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Archive for June, 2008

Live blogging: Full Funding Coalition, round two

Full Funding Coalition – Round Two

Time: 3:30 p.m. – 4:21 p.m.

Randy Parr starts off by expressing that their proposal is just that, a proposal. While it does outline clear benchmarks, these are explicitly stated only to provide an example of one way we could move forward in the short-term. To that end, the suggested six-year transition to the new funding plan includes:

  1. The state enriches funding through the current system for the 2009-11 biennium.
  2. The state would convert to the new Foundation Formula in 2011-2013.
  3. The CQEW reviews initial progress and makes recommendations for subsequent additional funding.
  4. The state makes additional payments on known, prioritized interventions during 2013-2015 budget cycle.
  5. Some additional interventions are necessarily spread across all six years.

Sup. Bergeson asks for clarification on student-weighted formula.

Randy continues to explain the year one phase in would include: K-3 class size reduction to 1:17, ramping up the phase-in of all day kindergarten, implementing additional relevant professional development, resources for struggling students, implementing behavior support systems, increasing support staff for principals and begin phase-in for NERCs.

Year two example includes: continue to increase K-3 class size reduction, all-day kindergarten, and additional ESA’s for classified staff, adding funding for key instructional programs in core subjects, and adding campus security funds for middle and high schools.

So – the cost: $1.2 billion increase in the next biennium. The most significant portion, about a quarter, of would increase teacher COLAs.

Randy goes on to outline a few revenue source ideas that would cover the first two years worth of reform efforts:

  • Capturing a portion of future growth. Transferring half of anticipated new revenue (above %5) in 09-11 would yield $500 million for public education.
  • Recapture the currently uncollected regular property tax authority to provide new revenue to school districts. Currently the state has reserved a total rate of $3.60 per $1,000 of assessed value, but the state property tax rate for schools in calendar year 2010 is expected to be $2.12 per $1,000 of assessed  value

Q&A

First question is, unsuprisingly, about the price tag. Rep. Fred Jarrett asks if $1.2 billion is the total cost. Randy Parr says no. When the study was completed it recommended 45% increase (of 10 billion at the time). The study has not been updated. There is not a specific dollar amount to the proposal – but do suggest a specific amount in the short term. We’re offering more because we want to prove that it can be done.
Next, Sup. Bergeson asks about teacher compensation reform and distribution. Randy Parry points out that they advocate for a salary survey and adjustments made according to that. He also noted that they discussed some local teacher compensation experimentation, but did not develop a specific proposal to this end.

Rep. Priest asks Randy Parr and Paul Rosier if the Full Funding Coalition can have an open discussion about
any of the ideas presented to the Task Force (bargaining at the state level for example), or if the coalition partners should discuss the issues separately. Both Mr. Rosier and Mr. Parr assured Rep. Priest that they would continue to try and work together.

Sup. Kowalkowski asks how realistic the revenue source proposals are – especially the property tax increase. Randy Parr acknowledged the difficulty of the property tax increase by stating that the property tax is the tax most legislators love to hate.

And so the day – and live blogging – comes to an end.

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Live Blogging: Full Funding Coalition

Full Funding Coalition (WSSDA, WASA, AWSP, WEA, PSEW)

1:55p.m.  – 3: 10 p.m.

Randy Parr, WEA, illustrates our K-12 funding crisis in a few slides. First, expenditures per-student as a percent of the national average have declined since the state took over ‘full’ funding of basic education. Second, in terms of our student achievement, we are highly efficient (high performing despite low funding levels). Rep. Hunter claims ‘legislative rules’ and points out that if the chart accounted for demographics, our student achievement in terms of NAEP scores would be average by comparison.

Randy Parr moves on to state that our definition of basic education is already in place (legal and legislative reform). We simply need schools to get the resources to do the job assigned them by government.

Cutting to the chase, Mr Parr posits three funding proposals for the State to choose from: 1) students perform at higher levels, 2) students continue to perform at current levels, or 3) students perform at lower levels (Randy admits that this is their fear).

David Conely begins to answer the questions – what constitutes basic education? how much does it cost? what results can we expect if we spend the money? Answers to these questions are based in the Washington Adequacy Funding Study, published in 2007:

  1. Major recommended additions: classroom-centered supports, educator supports, instructional supports, and learning environment supports
  2. Creating a Commission for Quality Education in Washington, a nonpartisan commission that would determine the annual amount of money needed to make ample provision for the education of all Washington students (much like the K-12 Revenue Council proposed in A Way Forward).

Advantages of a system like this is that it is scalable and lends itself to ramping up full funding based on expected student performance levels.

Rep. Hunter interrupts to question the viability of the CQEM because we don’t have the data available to correlate spending with student achievement. David Conely points out that data now is much better than it was 15 years ago and will continue to improve. He admits that this might not be perfect – but this is a better way. This is a policy advisory tool.

Rep. Jarrret suggests that, because of our strong constitutional language, it might be difficult to move forward with a model that identifies what ample is and most likely not be able fund it.

Questions continue from Sup. Bergeson and Sup. Kowalkowski, Sen. Tom, Chair Grimm and so on. It is afternoon, after lunch, nearing the end of two long days of lots of information. It is a little hard to stay on task.

Getting back to the PowerPoint, Randy Parr underlines that they are proposing a new basic education funding structure. It is called the Foundation Formula.

  • Like our proposal, local levy funds would only be used for their intended, supplemental use.
  • Five categorical funds would remain: regular instruction, CTE, special education, learning assistance, and English language learners.
  • Multi-Measure Accountability: multiple measures, reflection state goals, provide fair and scientifically accurate annual report cards for every school. Each school and district is held accountable fairly – in relation to student, school, and district characteristics (a growth model). Paul Rosier asks – how do we honor growth.

Time for a break… more later.

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Live Blogging: Washington School Nutrition Association

Washington School Nutrition Association

Time: 1:30 p.m.- 1:55 p.m.

The Washington School Nutrition Association started with a simple statement, hungry kids can’t learn. They recognized that the Task Forces has big issues to face and big asks – and that this would be a small ask.  Children from low-income families often still cannot afford the co-pay. Hunger is correlated with higher levels of aggression, hyperactivity and (obviously) poorer overall health.

The ask: They want the 2009 legislature to eliminate the co-pay for Pre-K and 4-12 grade reduced price students. The cost would be $9.3 per biennium.

Principal Deborah Gary from  Auburn School District, was the recipient of a USDA grant that has ensured that the school has fresh fruits every morning. Every day the grant ensures that fresh fruits and vegetables are served to every student and staff member with a message about nutrition everyday. Deborah then went on to talk about how Pioneer Elementary School’s student achievement and closing the achievement gap in several grades. She did not directly correlate the two results, but the implication was clear.

Q&A: Rep. Tom recognized the importance of school nutrition, but the questions remains for basic education, where do you draw the line?

The Nutrition Association argued that just as transportation is part of basic eduation, so should nutrition. It prepares them to learn.

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Live blogging: Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP

Washington Head Start and ECEAP, Joel Ryan

Time: 11:35 a.m.-12:00 noon

Mr. Ryan starts off by setting the framework for including early learning in the definition of basic education. He reminds the Task Force that three other states do this: North Carolina, New Jersey, and South Carolina. Additionally, 13 other states and D.C. include early learning in their school formula.

He asks: Why early learning? Is this just day care?

No. Early learning is about brain development. Research has provided a deeper understanding of how children’s brains develop and how quickly they develop. Research shows that factors in first grade predict drop out nearly as well as risk factors in high school. (My thought: WOW!)

His key point: If a child does not have a solid foundation entering kindergarten, than other investments will not pay off.

Mr. Ryan goes on to briefly discuss several well-known early learning return on investment studies. Gains are shown for the individual (especially low-income children) and society as a whole.

So, what should we do?

Step 1: Address Quality

Fund ECEAP at Head Start levels (from $6,630 to $8,725) = $17 million per year
Step 2: Cover ALL Eligible Children

An estimated 12,500 three and four year olds are eligible to receive services and do not because of a lack of resources. The cost to this would be an addtional $109 million a year

Q & A:

Rep. Hunter begins with two great questions. First, he points out that the fact that WA Head Start is targeted would create legal problems (basic education is, by definition, for all). Additionally, the State would have problems distributing funds in a mixed delivery system (for example, funds to church-based programs). Mr Ryan points out that he supports covering all children, his specific proposal would be the first step. He admits that there are constitutional issues that we’d have to iron out (to which Rep. Hunter laughed).

Rep. Hunter then asked why early learning should be in Basic Education rather than the General Fund. Many other programs that offer positive, proven results receive funding from the General Fund. Mr. Ryan reiterates his key point, research has proven that early learning provides a huge opportunity – and we cannot miss the opportunity to take advantage of it.

Rep. Hyde, who has done amazing early learning work in Bremerton, then asked about what results would we see if Mr. Ryan’s plan was implemented. Mr Ryan points to research from Head Start to show that children would enter school more ready to learn and gains would continue through the years. Gains would be rigorously monitored.

On a side note, Joel Ryan’s proposal is included within our proposal A Way Forward.

Posted in: Blog, Closing the Gaps, Early Learning, Funding

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Live blogging: Highly Capable Students

Washington Coalition for Gifted Education, Barbara Maurer and Irene Greve

Time: 11:05am-11:35am

The first group to, in their own words, not put forward an actual proposal or plan, but rather suggest what should be a part of any proposal moving forward. However, they then went on to say highly capable funding should move from a categorical program to being a part of basic education (which is arguably proposal like).

They began with some good news: Washington’s highly capable programs (which includes AP, IB, pre-AP, AVID and other programs, in additional to gifted/talented programs), according to this group, is well-regarded by other states, and is trying to make programs more expansive and inclusive (ie, serving more kids). Financially things are not as rosy, following the theme of every previous group; the State provided $6.7 million of the $37.5 million spent on highly capable students in 2006-07.

After some prodding from Chairman Grimm, the presenters made clear their ask from the Task Force. Namely, they would like more professional development for teachers, additional support for students in these programs, and program accountability.

After alluding that WASL scores do not adequately measure the growth of some highly capable students, Chairman Grimm asked if those students need a different type of assessment beyond the WASL. Ms. Maurer and Ms. Greve responded with the desire that WASL scores be disaggregated to more accurately measure the growth of students to better monitor their progress. They also suggested some students be allowed to take the WASL exams offered at higher grade levels.

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Live blogging: LEV Foundation Q & A

LEV Foundation, A Way Forward Q & A

TIme: 10 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Our proposal is bold and proposes significant changes. Task Force members were engaged and asked questions regarding price, phasing in, accountability (chart of accounts), bargaining at the state level, and teacher/principal evaluations. There were also key questions on the 13th year and early learning. A more comprehensive overview of the Q&A exchange will be posted a little later (if you listened in, you know there is a lot to cover!).

A key highlight was when Sup. Bergeson referred to our proposal, and more specifically to the bold reform in bargaining, as ‘eye-opening.’

Eye-opening indeed. No one ever said reform was easy. Besides, it is exciting to be on a path to answering these tough questions. We’re happy to have had the opportunity to frame the conversation this morning.

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Live blogging: LEV Foundation, Reform + Resources = Results

League of Education Voters Foundation, A Way Forward

9 AM- 945 AM

We’re back. Today we are here in force because our proposal, A Way Forward, is the first item on the agenda. Lisa Macfarlane, George Scarola, and John Tapogna are presenting.

There is no doubt about it, A Way Forward is a bold plan. Lisa begins by asking a simple question: do we take this once in a lifetime opportunity and propose bold solutions or do we patch the system. We choose the former.

Our plan is based on five core principles that the new finance system must address:

  1. The state is responsible for providing every student reasonable opportunities to meet the state’s high school graduation requirements.
  2. The new finance system is organized to drive improvements in student achievement.
  3. The funding responsibilities of the state and local school districts are clearly delineated and separated.
  4. Local decision makers are given flexibility to determine the best use of money while being held accountable for results.
  5. Revenue distribution is simplified and scull budgets are transparent.

Based on these principles, we propose five key proposals:

Redefine Washinton’s Basic Education Commitment

This is about being bold. This about giving every student reasonable opportunity to meet the state’s achievement standards and graduation requirements. Part of this is ensuring children have an opportunity to arrive to kindergarten school ready. To that end, we propose ensuring quality early learning for low-income children. We also recognize that a high school diploma is not enough education for young people today. We propose guaranteeing graduates a 13th year at the community college level.

Strengthen Accountability

Washington has some of the most burdensome and non-productive accounting practices around. Accounting system fixes and data system improvements are foundational issues for us. It’s time for an entirely new chart of accounts and to require all school districts need to use the same accounting system. When true costs are revealed, it will be crystal clear to policy makers, stakeholders, and taxpayers, what is being funded at what level and what is not being funded.

The time has come for teachers and principals and district leaders to work together to tap the full potential of using student achievement data to improve instructional practices. We propose that school districts and the state work together to establish benchmarks for spending and achievement.

We propose funding school-based performance awards. The awards, $100 or more per full-time student, would reward all the staff members of schools that meet or exceed their achievement targets, to reward collaboration.

In cases of persistent under performance, state inspections and interventions would kick in.

Core K-12 Education Fund

LEV proposes an entirely different budget development process that is more transparent and more honest. We call for a new K-12 Expenditure Council (modeled after the Revenue Forecast Council and the Caseload Forecast Council) and we suggest that policy makers develop a new tool- a K-12 Resource Model (like what is in use in Oregon).

We also call for an entirely different and much simpler way of distributing the money. We propose eliminating the many categorical programs (some of which are inside basic education and some are outside basic education) and replace them with a single, new K-12 Core Education Fund. It would essentially function as a block grant to school districts. This revenue would not be earmarked, but districts would have to account for how they spent the money and what results they achieved and they would do so using an uniform accounting system.

This new Core K-12 Education Fund would provide additional funding per student for four groups who require additional resources to meet their education needs:

  • low income
  • special education
  • English language learners
  • career & technology education

Targeted Intervention Fund

In addition to the Core K-12 Education fund, our 4th proposal calls for a new “targeted interventions” fund.

This would be the place that state policy makers could direct school districts to use new money for gold-standard-research-proven programs. Today the list of gold standard programs includes:

  • one-on-one tutoring in K-3,
  • class size reductions in K-1, and
  • monitors for students at risk of dropping out of high school.

This fund would also invest in targeted implementation of promising practices, like Navigation 101, and would commit the state to rigorous evaluation of them.

Better Compensation System

The single best thing you can do to improve student achievement is to ensure high-quality, supported teachers.

We need to do a better job of supporting teachers as they master the skills and knowledge necessary to drive student achievement . The state needs to invest more heavily in a rigorous teacher induction program if we want the highest quality teachers to enter and stay in the profession. Too many new teachers leave the field within their first five years.

We expect a compensation survey would recommend higher compensation for hard-to-staff positions, for example in subject areas such as math, science, or special education or in schools with challenging demographics or locations that make it hard to attract talented teachers.

Because we have given the state the responsibility for funding basic education, we think the state should also have the responsibility for bargaining educator salaries.

We are also calling for renewable, three-year rolling contracts for teachers and principals. Kids are not well served when struggling teachers or principals stay in the system without the support and training they need to become effective team members in their schools. Adopting this part of the proposal would force a much needed focus on evaluation, mentoring, and professional development.

Reform + Resources = Results. If we want our kids to be competitive and qualified for the jobs of the future, then we need to infuse resources and reforms into our school finance system

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Live blogging: Sup. Bergeson and the finale

Sup. Terry Bergeson, Proposals for Student Support and System Foundations
Time: 3:40pm-5:30pm

Continuing with the final presentation…The afternoon closed with some of the detailed aspects of Dr. Bergeson’s proposal: guidance and graduation support, career and technical education, and foundation support. By this time, the audience was thinning and energy was down (along with the number of Task Force members after 5pm). Continue reading for the action-packed final 90+ minutes. . .

—–

Guidance and Graduation Support

Dr. Bergeson has lots of love for Navigation 101, and would like to see grants offered so schools can implement the program. It costs $20,000 per secondary school to implement the program, and $10,000 per school over time. Her proposal also includes providing graduation advisors per 1,000 students to help track and manage requirements for students

Career and Technical Education

John Aultman, of OSPI, presented this part of the proposal, calling for the expansion of CTE offerings to 7th and 8th grade, change staffing from 19.5 to 18.5, create a “use it or lose it” provision for administrative allocation, increase NERCs, provide funding for summer school rich in math, science and technology, and provide additional staff at 1:25 for ELLs in the I-BEST progra

Foundation Support

After a brief look at resources given to ESDs and OSPI, Ms. Priddy took us into classified staff ratios and salaries. Currently, the State funds at 17.1 classified staff per 1,000 students, and OSPI recommends that be increased to 25.1 to 1,000 students (preliminary number). Districts spend $75 million beyond what the State funds on salaries for classified staff. To help curb this, OSPI recommends the State equalize these salaries and base future salaries on the salary survey already conducted by the State.

Rep. Priest raised the question of paraeducators and where they fit into the classified staffing ratio

Chairman Grimm asked about maintenance and if it made sense to have that be an entirely separate category, which was a nice transition to Dr. Bergeson’s presentation on facilities

Right now, State funding covers 58 percent of facilities maintenance expenditures, leading to a fair amount of deferred maintenance ($485 million worth in Seattle alone). The ask on this is (not surprisingly) an increase in State funding and NERCs

Rep. Priest asked about how small class size and longer school days will impact the Joint Legislative Task Force on School Construction. Dr. Bergeson said the happenings in the Basic Education Finance Task Force are on the radar of the other task force

Dr. Bergeson moved to NERCs (non-employee related costs), which includes technology. Here, OSPI is recommending the State allocate $1,383 per student (includes $282 per FTE for statewide technology program)

Chairman Grimm expressed concern over the reimbursement of expenditures, saying there is no disincentive to splurge on expenses. Ms. Priddy responded saying that is the reason OSPI is not recommending a reimbursement model

Technology was next, with OSPI looking to increase significantly the amount of technology available to students. The proposal includes laptops for all students in grades 9-12 to use throughout high school, laptops for all students in grades 7-8 in core classes, and a ratio of 3:1 for all students in grades 4-6

To end, we looked at curriculum and instruction. The highlight was the price tag to adopt all new curriculum ($727 million). In 2006-07, the State provided $42 per student for curriculum adoption, a model that allows districts to turn over curriculum every 18 years. At $92 per student per year, districts could turn over curriculum every eight years. For a six-year adoption cycle, it would cost $126 per student per year

Superintendent Kowalkowski raised the issue of staff development with new instructional materials. Ms. Priddy said that development would be a part of the 10 additional PD days proposed by OSPI

Finally, Dr. Bergeson pointed out some of the things not included in today’s presentation but in the back of OSPI’s collective mind — including transportation, accountability system, special education, small school factors and more. Interesting to see what, if anything, OSPI puts forward in these areas in the future

Before adjournment, Chairman Grimm returned to the statistic offered earlier today about the effect of master’s degrees in teaching on student achievement in Washington. Steve Aos (WSIPP) clarified that the studies they looked at generally found that MSTs did not have a positive correlation with student achievement. Within in the studies examined by WSIPP was one conducted in Washington, which had similar results (0 out of 4 found any impact).

We’ll be back with MORE live blogging tomorrow morning.

After all, we’re first on the list tomorrow morning.

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Live Blogging: Sup. Bergeson Proposal for Student Support

Sup. Terry Bergeson Proposal for Student Support and System Foundations
2:25pm-3:25pm

Dr. Bergeson was back for the final proposal of the day, which focused on supports for specific groups of students, namely: struggling students, English language learners, guidance/advisory/learning support, career/technical education, and college-prep/highly capable students. In the beginning of the end, Dr. Bergeson spoke to struggling students and ELLs, looking to increase funding for both — namely increase staff ratios and decrease class sizes. See the jump for further details. After the 10 minute break, we’ll tackle the remaining groups.

Struggling Students

Currently, the Learning Assistance Program allocates 3.46 staff per 1,000 low-income students, although no funds are set aside for materials. Dr. Bergeson recommends revised LAP allocations to include class size reductions for severe poverty, teachers for small group tutoring, teachers for intensive tutoring, program support, professional development for teachers, and instructional materials.

Rep. Priest asked the Task Force be mindful how decreasing class sizes inside and outside of LAP impacts K-12 funding.

Chairman Grimm again asked about the bottom line, and brought up the issue of LAP being a statutory program. According to Jennifer Priddy (OSPI), to implement the expanded LAP, it would cost roughly $420 million, nearly four times its current cost — some of which Ms. Priddy attributed to the inadequate base schools are working with now. This was a real WOW moment.

Rep. Hunter asked for clarification on the model, whether we would be allocating teachers based on LAP-eligible students or identifying students who would benefit from small-group instruction and funding those students. OSPI’s model is the former.

English Language Learners

Current allocation is $904 per ELL student, generating one teacher per 75 students. In Spokane, the district foots nearly two-thirds of the bill for its ELL program ($1.63 million of $2.475 million) and is achieving results, supporting the case that an increase in dollars can lead to results.

OSPI’s allocation proposal includes smaller class sizes for ELLs, floor funding for districts with few ELLs, high ELL/multiple language enhancement, middle/high school enhancement, professional development for staff, and instructional materials and assessments.

Rep. Priest asked about the time needed for professional development. In the proposal, PD days were set aside for specific ELL training for staff, however, these days would be phased out if 10 more PD days were added to the academic calendar.

Rep. Hunter expressed concern over the trade-off variables between the different programs and basic education overall (eg. having more of X, but not if Y is implemented).

We’ll be back after the break…

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Live Blogging: Social Emotional Learning as Part of a Basic Education in Washington State

Posted by Heather
Time: 1:50pm-2:25pm

Group: Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson

Social Emotional Learning as Part of a Basic Education in Washington State

 

Rep. Dickerson made a presentation advocating basic education be expanded to include social-emotional learning (SEL). She went on to link the drop out rate with low social-emotional skills, positing students drop out not because of the WASL or curriculum, but because of poor attendance, lack of engagement, poor academic achievement, lack of adequate counseling and behavioral problems. In its favor, a study of school-based SEL skills programs found that students in the program not only demonstrated improved SEL skills, but also scored 11 percent higher than non-participating peers on standardized tests. Rep. Dickerson proposed SEL be incorporated into basic education by creating standards, selecting curriculum, conducting teacher professional development, offering support for teachers from counselors and other specialists, and providing financial resources. In the end, she hopes SEL will be incorporated into basic education so students can be successful academically and successfully.

 

Task Force members were respectful and listened, however, the bottom line ($$) became apparent as Chairman Grimm asked about funding dollar amounts and Dr. Bergeson about staffing ratios/needs.

 

Superintendent Hyde brought up Navigation 101, as a curriculum to consider — one that has seen success in Washington.

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