Archive for September, 2008

LEV urges NO vote on Initiative 985

Posted by Michael

The education community urges a NO vote against Initiative 985.

“I-985 claims to reduce traffic congestion, but its major effect will almost certainly be to take away money from classrooms,” said Lisa Macfarlane, co-founder of the League of Education Voters. “Our schools need every dollar they currently get to prepare our children for college, job training programs and the workforce.”

“We believe I-985 would result in unacceptable cuts to K-12 education, health care and other programs that are important to children,” said Laura Bay, President of the Washington State PTA.

Why vote NO on I-985?

The paramount duty of the state is public education.

I-985 would take away more than $100 million a year from the state’s general fund which is used to pay for education, health care and social services, and public safety.

Instead, Tim Eyman’s initiative would spend that money on transportation. Currently, user fees such as the gas tax and tolls pay for highway projects. This would be a seismic shift in funding priorities for our state.

A roadblock to quality education.

I-985 is a roadblock in the way of improving Washington’s education system and preparing all children for college, job training and the workforce.

Our state’s general fund is already stretched thin. If I-985 is approved, it will threaten funding for:

  • Expanding all-day kindergarten;
  • Reducing class sizes; and
  • Increasing enrollments at our state’s colleges and universities.

Visit for more information about why voters should oppose I-985.

In the interests of children and schools, we urge a NO vote against I-985.

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Don't miss out on one of the most important Elections in a generation

Posted by Michael

Only 35 days remain until the Nov. 4 general election!  That means, the last day for online or mail-in voter registrations or transfers is Saturday, October 4.  If you’re not registered to vote, or need to update or check the status of your registration, here’s what you need to do:

Already registered to vote:

  • Check your voter status by accessing MyVote.

Registering for the first time in Washington:

Updating your voter registration:

  • Visit MyVote and enter your name and birth date to get access to the online address change form if you have moved to a new residence within the same county.
  • If you have moved to a different county, your address must be updated using the Online Voter Registration website.

For more information, visit the Washington Secretary of State’s website.

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Tell OSPI what you think about proposed revisions to science standards

Posted by Michael, updated Oct. 6

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction would like to hear feedback from you about proposed revisions to our state’s science standards. You’re invited to attend a public forum to hear more about the proposed changes and give your comments.

October 7th  6:30 – 8:00pm
Stanford Center Auditorium 2445 Third Avenue South

October 15th   6:30 – 8:00pm
ESD 112   2500 NE 65th Avenue

RSVP to or 360-725-4961

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Candidates for Superintendent debate tomorrow

Posted by Michael

With just over 40 days left until Election Day, here’s a great opportunity to see what separates the two candidates for Superintendent of Public Instruction.  This office oversees K-12 education in Washington State including one million students, 295 school districts and more than 2,100 schools.

Superintendet Terry Bergeson and candidate Randy Dorn will debate in Seattle Tuesday from 5:30 to 8:00 PM at First Place School (172 20TH Ave).  The debate-style forum is sponsored by the Equitable Opportunity Caucus and Minority Executive Directors Coalition.  RSVP to Theresa at (206) 325.2542 or email

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Higher Education Coordinating Board Meeting – September 17 and 18

Posted by Molly

I attended the HECB meeting earlier this week. The agenda for the two-day meeting consisted of one part work session and one part Board meeting.

The work session on the first day included committee reports on several key areas of the HECB’s Strategic Master Plan. First up on the agenda was the report on Policy and Demographic Analysis which sought to examine the state’s demographic and participation trends in those pursuing post-secondary education in order to identify target populations in the future.. The findings were not surprising. Based on the data, students from low-incomes families, students of color and people of working age (18-34) are prime demographic groups in need of more post-secondary education opportunities. There was discussion on possible policy recommendations to provide incentives for these target groups: expansion of dual-credit programs, establishment of a College Opportunity Incentive Network (COIN) that would coordinate individual policy efforts to encourage post-secondary education (GET for every student, Navigation 101, college students as mentors, etc.), and greater emphasis on teacher preparation.

Looking at the projected demographics was a very interesting and complex conversation which segued nicely into the Economic Needs Assessment presentation. This conversation centered primarily on getting students to pursue degree programs that will meet the economic employment demands for the next 10 years. Some of the preliminary conclusions from the committee were that there will be tremendous need in STEM programs (those that involve extensive math and science), construction, and health sciences and services; there must be a proactive and coordinated effort with education and workforce policymakers to ensure that the workforce is prepared for the jobs of tomorrow; and that those already in the workforce have the opportunity to gain the skills and education to stay competitive.

Finally, there was an update on the status of institutional performance agreements. So far, all six institutions (UW, WSU, WWU, EWU, CWU and TESC) have submitted proposals and appear to be committed to the process. The next challenge will be for all of them to reach an agreement.

The second day of the meeting consisted of discussion and approval of CORE 24 – the State Board of Education’s proposal for a new set of high graduation requirements. However, the bulk of the day was dedicated to the Higher Education Operating and Capital Budget requests in the upcoming legislative session. With the economy in upheaval and the budget forecasts predicting a large deficit, there is significant worry that higher education funding is at risk this session. Given the revenue projections for the state, the Board examined two alternative funding levels to help evaluate and prioritize expenditure requests for the proposed 2009-11 biennium. The two levels are:

Level 1: Sustaining Quality, Access and the State’s competitiveness; and
Level 2: Building a foundation for Excellence.

It is clear that the Board realizes the need to protect maintenance level funding, but values building the infrastructure necessary for higher education in Washington State to remain relevant and competitive. Finding the balance between these two concepts will most likely be on the top of the agenda when the Board meets again in October.

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WASL workgroup meeting — September 22nd

Posted by Heather

The agenda for the September 22nd WASL Workgroup meeting is now available:

House Hearing Rm B
John L. O’Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Work Session:  

  1. Follow-up from previous meeting.
  2. Commercially developed tests and experiences in other states.
  3. Multiple choice questions – discussion with Dr. James Popham.
  4. WASL performance audit – discussion with Legislative Auditor.
  5. Diagnostic assessments.
  6. Public comment and discussion on the work group’s next steps.

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PESB: Day 2

Posted by Heather

Thursday’s portion of the Professional Educator Standards Board meeting began with a look at the finances of the PESB. Transportation costs are up, and the PESB, like everyone else, is feeling the effects in its budget. The PESB isn’t running up a huge deficit, but Jennifer Wallace said the PESB will be asking the Office of Financial Management for some additional dollars for FY 2009 because of rising costs.

Later, Ms. Wallace presented on the PESB’s Goal 1 — a state-level system for assessing educator preparation program quality. A large chunk of this is done through site visits and PESB approval of programs. As the committee working on this moves forward, Ms. Wallace said the following are things to think about:
– What should ongoing site visits look like?
– To what extent should data items be included in site visit reports?
– How will the PESB weight items for approval?
– Should types of programs offered be a consideration?
– Is it better to collect information from programs annually?

Members of the board provided feedback, the most interesting focused on a potential “high-performing” label for preparation programs. Some members of the board cautioned against it, and others thought it a good idea if the bar for earning the distinction was raised (eg. earning “exemplary” in categories, rather than just meeting standard).

Corrine McGuigan, OSPI, returned to present on the implementation of Standard V — a new certification standard that requires candidates to provide teacher and student evidence to demonstrate mastery. July 2009 is the deadline for the PESB to approve preparation programs’ implementation of Standard V, and OSPI is working on data reporting templates to provide preparation programs. OSPI is currently raising awareness of Standard V to preparation programs, ESDs and professional organizations. Ultimately, the goal is for all teachers, teacher leaders and school support staff to know about Standard V and the importance of evidence of student learning.

The final agenda item before the board moved into executive session focused on Professional Certificate programs and their differences (ProCert is what teachers must pursue within their first seven years in the classroom). Mary Jo Larsen, OSPI, looked at all of the programs offered in the State and reported on their commonalities and differences. ProCert programs are based on the same WAC framework, but do vary in scheduling and additional portfolio components. Some programs are more flexible in terms of course requirements, while others prescribe specific courses to all candidates.

Final thoughts on the two-day meeting: The PESB is opening up possibilities to change the way Washington recruits and trains teachers. Given the other action in Olympia (State Board of Education, Basic Education Finance Task Force, budget session) the PESB may have its work cut out for it in the next year — I foresee a potential cage match over the importance of pedagogy in teacher preparation and some intense discussion on alternative routes to teaching.

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PESB: Day 1

Posted by Heather

Here’s a recap of today’s Professional Educator Standards Board meeting. Handouts are not online yet, but some are worth a read once they are (or contact PESB staff next week and they will email them to you).

To start, David Kinnuen, Corrine McGuigan, JoLynn Berge and Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson presented on certification fees for FY 2007-08. Certification fees are collected to finance certification office expenditures. Previously, revenues from certification fees exceeded expenditures, but now, the opposite is true. OSPI would like to 1) revamp the accounting system for cert fees (to make things more transparent) and 2) talk to all parties about raising certification fees (but won’t be asking to do so in the 2009 legislative session).

Next, Jennifer Wallace (PESB) presented on the work of the PESB Task Force – Ensuring an Adequate Supply of Well-Qualified Math and Science Teachers (summary materials from August meeting available here). I won’t rehash the entire summary — the meeting summary on the PESB website does it well enough. This Task Force has taken on a large task and it will be interesting to see what its final recommendation is. After Ms. Wallace’s presentation, Chair Van Glubt required every PESB member to comment on the issue. Below are questions and comments raised:

– Are math and science teachers on Task Force? They should be included.

– Pedagogy and subject-area knowledge are important.

– Need to look beyond UW-Seattle to supply teachers.

– Access is an issue: subject-area courses are often offered during the day, which are hard for working individuals to attend.

– Teacher compensation needs to be looked at.

– Easier access to information for interested candidates, maybe one person/group as the information source.

– Teachers don’t know about retooling, don’t feel incentive ($) to retool.

– Concern over differential pay; try loan forgiveness instead. How will English teachers feel? What about elementary teachers who teach all subjects?

– Why can’t we recruit teachers? Money is an issue. Maybe embed teaching course requirements into math and science majors.

– We need a substantial mentorship program, 5-10 years.

– Need to change image of teaching: salary, challenges under NCLB, etc. No one saying “this is a great profession.”

Ms. Wallace then presented on out-of-state and online teacher preparation programs that operate field experiences in Washington State. The PESB is putting together a policy framework for working with these programs.  This proposal outlines requirements for these programs, including conducting a needs assessment and agreements with school districts.

After lunch, Nasue Nishida (PESB) put forward three legislative budget and policy requests to be made to the Office of Financial Management and Gov. Gregoire. (These handouts are suggested reading)

1) Educator Workforce Data System: This proposal will be made with the State Board of Education and wants a data system by the end of the 2010-11 school year. The system should respond to the needs of stakeholders and include, at minimum, whether and where teachers are assigned, teaching assignments versus qualifications, and teacher qualifications related to student demographics by school.

2) Institutional Priority for Teacher Education Task Force: This Task Force would “raise the level of awareness, attention and dialogue addressing how Washington’s state institutions will better reflect and prioritize the need to produce more teachers, particularly in hard-to-fill subject areas and hard-to-staff locations.” Members of the Task Force will come from the PESB, public universities, the Higher Education Coordinating Board, OSPI and K-12. The Task Force has a list of directives and will need to make recommendations by September 2010. (Price tag: $59,500)

3) Preparation Program Quality and Teacher Effectiveness: This proposal seeks to revamp the evidence-based pedagogy assessment teacher candidates must take, increase response rates on beginning teacher survey, and fully funding the Teacher Assistance Program (linked to teacher survey). (Price tag: $695,288)

The final two agenda items — the biennial SBE-PESB report and changing program administrator certification requirements — need follow-up, so I’ll leave them for now.

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State’s Basic Education Finance Task Force members will be in Redmond Sept. 22

Posted by Michael

Education advocates in East King County have a great opportunity to hear from members of the Basic Education Finance Task Force Monday, Sept. 22. 

Three members, Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina), Rep. Glenn Anderson (R-Fall City) and Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Bellevue), will discuss their efforts to redesign our state’s K-12 finance system for the 21st century. 

The legislators will take questions from school board members and the public.

When:  7:00 PM, Monday, September 22

Where:   Lake Washington School District Resource Center

               16250 NE 74th St., Redmond, WA (Redmond Town Center)

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