CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) Simulated Workplace program is one of 16 innovations to receive national recognition for pushing the boundaries of exceptionality and effective learning models. The program, housed within the Department’s career technical education (CTE) office, is a proven model that merges entrepreneurship and skilled career pathways within the k-12 public education footprint.
The distinction is a part of the Learning Forerunners Across America report that highlights 16 innovations that power the most promising learning ecosystems throughout the country. HundrED, in partnership with Remake Learning and The Grable Foundation, released the report which builds upon the success of the previous 2019 release of Spotlight on Pittsburgh. The Learning Forerunners Across America report expands the ambition and scope of the previous Spotlight by focusing on system-level best practices that foster innovation at scale.
West Virginia’s Simulated Workplace was selected as one of these innovations due to its replicability and proven track record of success. This statewide program allows student-led businesses to replace traditional classrooms in order to replicate real-world work experiences. Teachers become consultants, while students become CEOs, safety managers, project managers and more. “Company meetings” largely replace lectures, and students themselves take charge of their companies’ successes. Real-world employers “inspect” and guide the companies, and all students apply to the program, learning interview skills from peers, teachers and employers alike.
Now in its seventh year, Simulated Workplace has enhanced the apprenticeship model in West Virginia to include “soft skills” in addition to the technical skill sets offered by apprenticeships. Because these soft skills are in high demand by employers, graduates of the Simulated Workplace often quickly rise through the ranks upon taking real-world jobs.
“The importance and impact of teaching and learning is unprecedented due to the changing dynamics of our time,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “Simulated Workplace and many of CTE initiatives have grown exponentially because they resonate with the way students receive, process and utilize information. These programs provide rich environments that teach content and life skills all while keeping students engaged well beyond what classroom lessons alone can do.”
“There may not be another moment in our lifetimes when educators are thinking as boldly about what education and learning might be than right now,” says Gregg Behr, Executive Director of The Grable Foundation and Co-chair of Remake Learning. “We should embrace these innovations as signals about what’s possible. And if we introduce these possibilities to parents and communities, and if we genuinely invite families to learn alongside students and educators, then we just might actually remake learning for years to come. That’s what is so electrifying about what’s happening now.”
The West Virginia Public Education Collaborative, which serves as a member of the Remake Learning Council and the Regional Lead for Remake Learning Days, was honored to nominate Simulated Workplace as a Forerunner.
The release of the Forerunner report coincided with the national launch of Remake Learning Days Across America, a yearlong festival that kicked off on October 13. First launched in Pittsburgh in 2016, Remake Learning Days has since drawn international renown and taken root across the United States.
Cities and regions celebrated in the report include:
- Central Pennsylvania
- Eastern Kentucky
- Greater Cincinnati
- Kansas City
- Northeast Ohio
- Southwestern Pennsylvania
- San Diego
- Southeastern Pennsylvania
- North Carolina’s Research Triangle
- West Virginia
You can find more information about each of these innovations and the HundrED Learning Across America Forerunners at https://hundred.org/en/collections/learning-across-america.