ANSTED, WV (WVNS) — West Virginia Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw was in Fayette County on Monday, September 26th, seeing a new school program in action that has helped young students.

In October 2021, Ansted Elementary School along with the rest of Fayette County began hiring teaching assistants. These assistants are there to help 1st and 2nd graders excel in the classroom and bridge any gaps created during the pandemic.

School principal Marchelle Bowling spoke about the responsibilities the aides have.

“They are the right-hand instructional aides to our teachers, they participate in PLCs, they participate in data talks, they participate in collaboration with kids, knowing what to do and what to do next,” said Bowling. “Um, they have been phenomenal and instrumental in our scores and you can see that in our phonics, um, continuum, and in our PALS data.”

According to Bowling, since the program began, the school’s seen an improvement in reading comprehension and overall testing scores. Interestingly, they’ve also seen an improvement in behavior.

Speaker Hanshaw said the program is successful, but there is one major roadblock to implementing it statewide.

“It’s purely a question of funding at this point so what do we do to make sure the counties have the resources to be able to continue these programs on a going-forward basis,” Hanshaw said. “So for counties that have used their federal funds to implement these programs already, three cheers for them. I’m really excited that they’ve done that but we want to make sure that the program doesn’t end when the federal funding ends.”

Currently, West Virginia law requires kindergarten classrooms to have a teaching aide to help students.

Hanshaw says an expansion of the law to include 1st and 2nd grade will be introduced early in the new legislative session in January.