Archive for August, 2008

Tracking the Class of 2010

Posted by Heather

With the release of WASL pass rates yesterday came the first opportunity to look at the progress of the Class of 2010. Two-thirds of the class is on track to graduate, having passed the Reading and Writing exams this past spring. But how has this class progressed over time? I took a peak at the data from when the Class of 2010 was in 4th and 7th grades (2001-02 and 2004-05, respectively).


The results: the Class of 2010 has made progress on the Reading and Writing WASLs but declined slightly on the Math exam. Science WASL scores are not included in this comparison as the class wasn’t tested three times in this subject.


Source: OSPI

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Announcing our second round of endorsements

Posted by George

We’re endorsing seven more outstanding candidates, in addition to our prior endorsements for governor and State Legislature.  These candidates will be allies in our effort to improve Washington’s education system from early learning through higher education.

Sen. Curtis King (R-Yakima): After winning an upset election to fill the last year of Sen. Alex Deccio’s term, Curtis King distinguished himself as a thoughtful, responsive member of the State Senate.  He successfully sponsored the inclusion of funding for the proposed East Yakima Early Learning Demonstration Project in the Capital Budget. He currently serves on the Joint Legislative WASL Review Committee.

Judi Owens for State Senate (D-Liberty Lake): Judi Owens’ education credentials include nearly two decades as a school secretary in the Central Valley School District. She has worked closely with LEV on education issues in her community as a key supporter of both the Initiative 728 and simple majority campaigns. She also serves as the state vice president for Public School Employees of Washington.

Fred Walser for State Senate (D-Monroe): A former police chief for the City of Sultan, Fred Walser worked closely with Sultan middle schools to reduce truancy. He tells voters at the door that well-funded schools are a better long-term investment than building jails. Fred will bring a unique perspective on what it will take to reduce our dropout rate and keep children on track to succeed in school and life.

Rep. Larry Haler (R-Richland): Rep. Larry Haler is the Ranking Member of the House Early Learning and Children’s Services Committee. His leadership in the Republican caucus on early childhood education issues ensured bipartisan support of the child care quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) and collective bargaining authority for child care center directors and workers (HB 2449). He was also a regional leader in the successful expansion of WSU Tri-Cities to a full four-year university.

Tim Knue for State House (D-Mount Vernon): Tim Knue is an award-winning teacher who has dedicated more than three decades in the classroom. As a high school teacher of agricultural education, Tim has helped prepare hundreds of students to contribute to their community. Tim will fight for adequate funding of basic education so schools in small towns can continue to support thriving rural economies.

Tim Probst for State House (D-Vancouver): As CEO of the Washington Workforce Association, Tim Probst makes education more relevant for students by helping them connect their coursework to career pathways. He created scholarship programs that have changed the lives of more than 100 at-risk youth who now work in skilled jobs at local businesses.  Tim will be a strong advocate for making college affordable for today’s young people.

Rep. Maureen Walsh (R-College Place): Rep. Maureen Walsh is a leader in the Republican caucus on children’s issues. Her support led to the strong, bipartisan passage of the child care quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) last year. Last session, she supported collective bargaining authority to empower child care center directors and workers to seek higher wages and standards (HB 2449).

Your vote in November will make a difference for Washington’s one million public school children.  The elected officials you send to Olympia will write the next education budget which will have broad impact, from teacher salaries to the number of seats in each classroom.

You can help elect these candidates by donating to LEV PAC

Thank you for your support!

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WASL scores unveiled

Posted by Heather


WASL scores for 2007-08 were released today by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. As we all could probably predict, results are mixed, but let’s look at this through a glass-half-full lens.


For the Class of 2008, passing rates on the Reading and Writing WASL are now at 92.9 percent, up 1.5 percent, or 684 students, from June (I wrote about those results here).  No, we can’t boast a pass rate of 100 percent. And yes, these numbers do not include the students who have dropped out (9,000+) or been reclassified into other grades (9,500+). BUT, we also can’t call the WASL-as-graduation-requirement a “train wreck” (as many thought it would be).


For the Class of 2009 (incoming 12th graders), scores are also going up, with 86 percent having passed the Reading and Writing WASL. Scores for all subgroups are up when compared to the Class of 2008 at the same point last year, although the achievement gap persists at a similar rate (between 11 and 17 percentage points).


And for the Class of 2010, scores weren’t too bad either. On the first go-round, 75.41 percent passed the Reading and Writing WASL. Unfortunately the achievement gap persists between subgroups, ranging from 7 to 25 percentage points.


Source: OSPI

In grades 3-8, Science and Writing WASL scores were up, although not always by leaps and bounds. Increases ranged from 1 to 2 percentage points in Writing and 3 to 6 percentage points in Science. Grade 5 had across-the-board score increases while grades 4 and 7 saw decreases in Reading and Math. Scores in grades 3, 4 and 6 varied little from last year.



Detailed results are available on the OSPI website here.


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Live blogging: Achievement Gap Advisory Committee

Posted by Heather

After finalizing presentations, each work group reported on its work. First up was Data, with Annie giving an abbreviated version of the presentation she prepared for the work group. Her presentation focused on WASL participation and proficiency rates and SAT scores for African American and White students. She also discussed a slide demonstrating how characteristics impact performance on the Grade 10 Math WASL. Trish added the recommendations of the work group, namely that teachers demonstrate mastery of EALRs and a GMAP-like accountability system for schools be developed. Deborah Wilds asked about 10th grade WASL score data including retakes (it did not but the data is available). Mona asked about a better data system, and the recommendation of a P-16 data system was added.

The Communications & Community Engagement work group was next. They began by presenting on town hall meetings, which will occur. The goals of the town hall meetings are to 1) educate and inform and 2) provide a call and response opportunity. The town hall meetings will be held in Pierce County (October 14 at Evergreen State College, Tacoma campus), King County and Eastern Washington (Spokane and/or Tri-Cities). James Smith asked about including questions about teacher quality in the town hall meetings. Mona asked about including outreach strategies beyond town hall meetings (other outreach methods are included in the communications plan).

Then we heard from the Best Practices work group. The work group has drafted a report which I don’t yet have a copy of. The draft addresses a P-16 framework, early learning, teacher quality, curriculum, and higher education. The work group also wants to meet with district superintendents. The group will also recommend that the definition of basic education be rewritten to require equity for all students, closing the achievement gap be a requirement for accreditation from State Board of Education, an oversight advisory committee be created to monitor the implementation of this group’s plan, and a cultural competency be added to teacher certification requirements.

The committee transitioned into a review of the draft outline of the interim report and gave suggestions to staff on organization.

After some other administrative items, the meeting was adjourned.

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Live blogging: Achievement Gap Advisory Committee

Posted by Heather

During lunch, Jennifer Priddy of OSPI gave a presentation on school funding in Washington and the work of the Basic Education Finance Task Force. Jennifer’s presentation is not online yet, but a similar PowerPoint is available here (slides 1-18). Much of Jennifer’s presentation focused on staffing ratios and Learning Assistance Program funding (two big drivers of school funding). The committee seemed to take to heart the funding crunch facing districts and asked some policy questions, specifically about funding and CORE 24.

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Live blogging: Achievement Gap Advisory Committee

Posted by Heather

As a data nerd, I joined the Data work group in the hopes of learning more from WSIPP’s Annie Pennucci. Annie, as usual, did not disappoint and presented depressing stats on the achievement gaps in our schools. In math, we see an achievement gap of about 30 percentage points between White and African American students. In reading, the gap is a bit narrower, averaging around 20 percentage points. While going through Annie’s presentation, members of the work group (Trish and Rosalund Jenkins) highlighted the need for more/better data tracking in the State.

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LEV priority candidates advance to November ballot

Posted by Michael

Our fourteen Priority Candidates made it through the new “top two” Primary Election yesterday.  All of them will need your help and financial support between now and November so they can be key partners in our effort to provide a quality education for all students in Washington State.

Here are the Primary Election Results for our candidates:


Christine Gregoire (LEV Endorsed) (Prefers Democratic Party)          49.27 %

Dino Rossi (Prefers G.O.P. Party)                                                               45.07 %


State Senator, 4th LD

Judi Owens (LEV Endorsed) (Prefers Democratic Party)                     42.65 %

Bob McCaslin  (Prefers Republican Party)                                                57.35 %


State Representative, 8th LD

Larry Haler (LEV Endorsed) (Prefers G.O.P. Party)                           54.29 %

Rob Welch  (Prefers Republican Party)                                                  45.71 %


State Representative, 10th LD

Tim Knue (LEV Endorsed) (Prefers Democratic Party)                       47.33 %

Norma Smith  (Prefers G.O.P. Party)                                                      52.67 %


State Representative, 14th LD

Vickie Ybarra (LEV Endorsed) (Prefers Democratic Party)                 32.46 %

Norm Johnson (Prefers Republican Party)                                                21.38 %


State Representative, 17th LD, Pos. 1

Tim Probst (LEV Endorsed) (Prefers Democratic Party)                     49.53 %

Joseph James (Prefers Republican Party)                                                31.88 %


State Representative, 17th LD, Pos. 2

Deb Wallace (LEV Endorsed) (Prefers Democratic Party)                   60.71 %

Micheline Doan (Prefers Republican Party)                                             39.29 %


State Representative, 26th LD

Larry Seaquist (LEV Endorsed) (Prefers Democratic Party)                55.73 %

Marlyn Jensen (Prefers Republican Party)                                                 44.27 %


State Representative, 30th LD

Skip Priest (LEV Endorsed) (Prefers Republican Party)                      56.47 %

Carol Gregory (Prefers Democratic Party)                                               43.53 %


State Senator, 39th LD

Fred Walser (LEV Endorsed) (Prefers Democratic Party)                   43.60 %

Val Stevens (Prefers Republican Party)                                                   56.40 %


State Senator, 41st LD

Fred Jarrett (LEV Endorsed) (Prefers Democratic Party)                    59.05 %

Bob Baker (Prefers Republican Party)                                                      40.95 %


State Representative, 41st LD

Marcie Maxwell (LEV Endorsed) (Prefers Democratic Party)              53.89 %

Steve Litzow (Prefers G.O.P. Party)                                                          46.11 %


State Representative, 44th LD

Hans Dunshee (LEV Endorsed) (Prefers Democratic Party)                59.12 %

Larry Countryman (Prefers G.O.P. Party)                                                  40.88 %


State Representative, 45th LD

Roger Goodman (LEV Endorsed) (Prefers Democratic Party)              51.24 %

Toby Nixon (Prefers Republican Party)                                                     48.76 %

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Make your voice count in Washington’s Primary Election tomorrow

Posted by Michael

Believe it or not, tomorrow is Washington’s Primary Election. 

The primary isn’t just for show.  Many local and statewide elections could change dramatically depending on the outcome tomorrow. 

It’s also the first time we get to try out our new “Top Two” primary.  The new primary means the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the November ballot.  For some districts in Seattle and Eastern Washington, two candidates from the same party could be on the November ballot.

The top two system applies only to elections for partisan office.  Judicial races and non-partisan statewide races (such as Superintendent of Public Instruction) may be decided in the primary if a candidate gets the majority of votes cast.

Remember to have your absentee ballots postmarked by Tuesday, August 19th or visit your polling location on Election Day if you live in King or Pierce counties.

View the League’s list of endorsed candidates.

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Early Education is on the Agenda

Posted by Molly

Every so often I take my eyes off of statewide education policy to check in and see how education issues are being discussed at the national level.  Last week, I watched an online forum on the 2008 Democratic Party Platform hosted by the New America Foundation.

Although the platform is still just a draft and won’t be finalized until the convention later this month, it is exciting to note the special attention given to early learning.  In fact, an individual section was devoted to the the topic:

We will make quality, affordable early childhood care and education available to every American child from the day he or she is born. Our Children’s First Agenda, including increases in Head Start and Early Head Start and investments in high-quality Pre-K, will improve quality and provide learning and support to families with children ages zero to five. Our Presidential Early Learning Council will coordinate these efforts.

It is exciting to see early learning receive national recognition as a vital investment for young students and their families.  I am looking forward to seeing what the Republican Party Platform says about early learning when it becomes available.

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Washington part of end-of-course exam trend

Posted by Heather


The Center on Education Policy, a policy shop/think tank in the other Washington, released a report this week on end-of-course exams. Washington’s plan to phase out the Math WASL and replace it with end-of-course exams in Algebra I and Geometry by 2014 featured heavily in the report (providing me with some interesting reading).


Like most reports coming out of think tanks, this one offered suggestions to states implementing EOC exams. The good news: Washington falls in step with some of their recommendations. As CEP suggests, we are phasing in our EOC exams and reviewing state content standards. As the State moves forward in developing and finalizing EOC exams, we can only hope stakeholders are consulted and teachers adequately prepared for implementation.


Given the unfortunate low performance of Washington students on the Math WASL, the move to EOC exams is a positive one — as long as we implement it well. EOC exams should also help schools identify struggling students earlier, rather than waiting until the 10th grade to see if students mastered Algebra and Geometry (classes they may have taken in 8th and 9th grade).


This report also reminded me about options for students who failed the WASL, namely using the SAT as a replacement. If a student uses the SAT as a WASL replacement, s/he need only score a 470 in math (out of 800), 350 in reading, or a 380 in writing. For a frame of reference, the average SAT score (math and reading) in 2007 of incoming freshmen at CWU was 991, at WWU was 1107, and at UW was 1090-1320.


The CEP report is available here.


An article in Education Week about the report is here.


More information about the Washington State Assessment System is available here.

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