Archive for September, 2012

SAT Report: Only 43 Percent of 2012 College-Bound Seniors Are College Ready

On the heels of a report from the ACT that found that only about half of ACT-takers are prepared for college, a new SAT report (PDF) finds that only 43 percent of SAT-takers are prepared for college success.

The report shows that 43 percent of students who took the SAT in the class of 2012 met the SAT College & Career Readiness Benchmark score of 1550. The score indicates a 65 percent likelihood of achieving a B- average or higher during the first year of study at a four-year college. According to the College Board, the makers of the SAT, research shows the SAT benchmark is “associated with higher rates of enrollment in four-year colleges, higher first-year college GPAs and higher rates of retention beyond the first year.” Based on this finding, the report advocates for greater rigor in schools, and applauds the shift to the Common Core standards.

The report also highlights the increasing diversity of SAT-takers. For the first time, nearly half of students who took the test were minority students, and 36 percent of test-takers indicated that their parents’ highest level of education was a high school diploma or less. However, the report does not share these students’ performance on the SAT.

Read the full report here (PDF).

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Washington state to use new accountability measures

As a result of Washington’s ESEA waiver, Superintendent Randy Dorn has announced a new federally approved accountability system. Instead of AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) results, Washington schools will be using Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs).

AMOs will be more targeted than AYP goals. AMOs are calculated using proficiency gaps, which are targeted at the school level and focused on the differences in achievement between all students and every tracked subgroup. Tracked subgroups include English language learners, students with disabilities, students of color and low-income students. According to OSPI, “a proficiency gap is the percentage point difference between that group’s level of proficiency in the baseline year of 2011 and 100 percent.”

In a statement to the press, Superintendent Dorn said, “We have high expectations for all of our students. The targets set for 2017 are realistic expectations for schools and subgroups, but we will keep working so every student can go as far as their talents and abilities will take them.” Washington state plans to cut all proficiency gaps by 50 percent by 2017.

Read the full announcement here.

More information can be found below:


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Wash. Supreme Court hears argument on constitutionality of two-thirds tax initiative

Challenging I-1053, League of Education Voters vs. Washington StateThe Washington State Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of Initiative 1053 yesterday. The initiative imposes a supermajority vote in the state Legislature to raise revenues or close tax loopholes. The League of Education Voters (LEV), along with the Washington Education Association, parents, taxpayers and lawmakers are asking the court to rule that the supermajority requirement is unconstitutional.

“LEV was founded on the concept that Washington schools need to be fully funded in order to ensure that all kids reach their potential,” said Chris Korsmo, Chief Executive Officer of LEV. “This lawsuit is another important piece in making sure our kids have all the resources they need to get an excellent education. It’s also key to ensuring that legislators have all of their constitutionally protected powers at their disposal for making budget decisions.

The Court asked critical questions of both the plaintiffs and defendants, particularly on the standing of the case. In order to decide on the constitutionality of I-1053, the Court must first determine that the issue is theirs to determine based on the facts of the case. The plaintiffs including LEV, along with the governor argue that the issue should be determined by the Court.

Even to close the outdated tax loopholes, I-1053 requires a two-thirds vote. But the constitution sets the rules for the Legislature, and it requires a simple majority to raise taxes or close loopholes. As long as I-1053 goes unchallenged, a minority of legislators can block the will of the majority.

Part of the initiative requires a two-thirds vote of both chambers of the Legislature to raise revenue or modify tax preferences. LEV believes that the state constitution is clear that such measures require only a majority vote of the Legislature.  The state’s constitution cannot be amended by statute, regardless of how that statute came into existence.

Watch the proceedings below.

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New study finds that re-segregation is growing in public schools across the country

A new report, conducted by The Civil Rights Project, found that U.S. schools are growing more segregated, even as the U.S. population grows more and more diverse.

New York, Illinois, Michigan, and California top the list for the most segregated states for African American students. According to the data, two-fifths of Black students attend a school that is less than 1 percent White. In Michigan, a third of Black students attend a school  that is less than 1 percent White. Researchers say this segregation is worse than the south before Brown v. Board of Education. The data also shows that southern states, like Arkansas and Tennessee, are growing more and more segregated. Latino students also face segregation, especially in western states like California and New Mexico where the percentage of Latino students in public schools is highest.

How does Washington state stack up? Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics for the 2009-2010 school year, researchers found that Washington has one of the highest percentages of Latino enrollment in public schools (16.8 percent). Of those students, 53.9 percent attend schools that are 50 to 100 percent minority. By comparison, Rhode Island has a Latino student population of 18 percent, and 74.1 percent of them attend schools that are between 50 to 100 percent. Oregon’s Latino student population is slightly larger than Washington at 20.4 percent. However,  only 39.8 of Oregon’s Latino public school students attend a school that is 50 to 100 percent minority.

Researchers point to the elimination of desegregation assistance under the Reagan administration for the increase in public school segregation. When it comes to the implications of segregation, the researchers write, “The new segregation that has grown out of that diversity is multiracial, affects many more districts, involves language and immigrant issues as well as isolation by race, ethnicity and poverty. It is also spreading. If one examines the testing and graduation statistics on the state department of education websites, the relationship between failure to meet state standards and this segregation is an obvious reality, although it is virtually invisible in policy discourse. Resegregated schools tend to have severe problems of educational performance but as far as this issue goes, most states have taken a pass.”

Read the full report here (pdf). Read the Education Week coverage here.

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The anatomy of a successful turnaround school

Though the final data for turnaround schools will not be released until later this year, the American Institutes of Research, Policy Studies Associates, the Urban Institute, and Decision Information Resources have collaborated to share an initial review of what makes a turnaround school successful.

The organizations found several key factors in taking a low-performing school and changing it to a more successful one with the momentum to keep improvements. The study included schools with the lowest 5 percent of performance in Florida, North Carolina and Texas, with achievement in the bottom 15th percentile for that state and less than 40 percent student growth over time in both reading and mathematics.

About half the schools identified as initially low-performing were able to show some signs of improvement within three years; another 35 percent showed no increase in student-achievement status or growth. But the study found 15 percent of schools were true turnarounds: They improved the number of students reaching proficiency in math or reading by at least 5 percentile points, with student growth rates in the 65th percentile statewide.

Turnaround rates varied considerably by state and subject, with schools much more likely to improve poor performance in mathematics than in reading, and only 3 percent to 4 percent able to improve in both subjects at once. Those two-subject-turnaround schools were more likely than other schools to report low turnover of highly qualified teachers and more technical assistance with data use.

Read more about the study in Education Week.

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Despite gains, grad rate gaps persist

The Schott Foundation for Public Education released a report on the national graduation rate and found that, despite overall gains, gaps between Black males and Latino males and their White peers persist. The national graduation rate for Black males has increased by ten percentage points since 2001-02, with 2010-11 being the first year that more than half of the nation’s ninth-grade Black males graduated with a regular diploma four years later. Yet, this progress has closed the graduation gap between Black male and White, non-Latino males by only three percentage points. According to the study, at this rate, it would take nearly 50 years for Black males to achieve the same high school graduation rates as their White male counterparts.

In Washington, 55 percent of Black males graduated on time in 2009-10, a level that is nearly 20 percent less than their White peers’ graduation rate. The rate is three percent higher than the national average and an increase of five percent from the 2007-08 year. Of Latino males in Washington in 2009-10, 56 percent graduated on time, two percent fewer than the national average.

The report notes that the states with the highest graduation rates for Black males are those with relatively low percentages of Black male enrollment, like Maine, Vermont and Utah. It draws the conclusion that Black males “perform better in places and spaces where they are not relegated to under-resourced districts or schools. When provided similar opportunities they are more likely to produce similar or better outcomes as their White male peers.”

The authors also urge states to take action on school discipline as a way to close gaps. Blacks and Latinos face disproportionate rates of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions. They recommend replacing these punitive practices with well-resourced schools where teachers have the training, mentoring, administrative support, supplies and the facilities they need to keep students in the classroom. The Schott Foundation also supports the call for a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions

For the full report click here (PDF). For the 2007-08 report, click here.

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New York Times: Online Mentors to Guide Women Into the Sciences

This article was originally featured in the New York Times on Sunday, September 16th.

Hundreds of prominent women working in science, technology, engineering and math will become online mentors for college students next month, part of a six-week program to encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM fields.

“I think of this as a MOOC — a massive open online course — and a big mentor-fest,” said Maria Klawe, the president of Harvey Mudd College and a sponsor of the project. “Getting more women into STEM is my passion in life, and every institution that’s set up mentorship programs for young women has been successful at increasing their numbers, so I think this can make a real difference.”

The program has no curriculum, no exam, no grades and no credit — just a goal of connecting young students with accomplished women working in STEM fields. Prominent universities — including the California Institute of Technology, Cornell, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley — have been quick to sign on, contributing mentors and publicizing the program to students.

“I thought this was a great idea as soon as I heard about it,” said Dennis Berkey, the president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “Young women in STEM, more than young men, have a lot of questions about what kind of career they’ll have, whether the rewards are based on performance or the old boys’ network, whether it’ll let them make a positive impact on the world, and how it will relate to their aspirations for family.”

Read the full article here.

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New study reveals near 15 percent of youth are 'disconnected', cost taxpayers $93 billion

In the new report conducted by Measure of America titled One in Seven: Ranking Youth Disconnection in the 25 Largest Metro Areas, researchers found that one in seven (5.8 million) Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 are not enrolled in school or employed. Referred to as “disconnected”, this group of young people are estimated to cost taxpayers $93.7 billion in government support and lost tax revenue.

According to the report, more than one in four African American youth between the ages of 16 and 24 in Seattle are unemployed and out of school.

Here’s what the report had to say about Seattle,

“Seattle’s rate of youth disconnection is the same as the national average of 14.7 percent. In terms of education in the metro area today, Seattle boasts a highly educated population, with 37 percent of adults having a bachelor’s degree or more. However, without concerted attention, Seattle’s positioning as a city with a competitive workforce is in jeopardy: far too many young people in the 16-to-24 age range have left school, with a dropout rate of over 18 percent. While the overall rate is at the national average, African American disconnection in Seattle is astonishingly high, at 26.9 percent. More than one in four African Americans in Seattle are unmoored from school and work.”

Seattle, along with Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Phoenix, have the highest rate of African American youth disconnection in the country. Nationally, African American youth have a disconnect rate of 22.5 percent. The metro areas of Boston, New York, and Phoenix have the highest disconnection rates for young Latinos. Latino youth have the second highest national disconnection rate at 18.5 percent.

Researchers point to shifts in the labor market as a possible reason for such high unemployment among youth. Unlike a few decades ago, most sustainable jobs require some sort of post secondary degree or certificate. Ensuring that all kids have access to a high quality education programs like early learning and dropout prevention as well as career pathways are important tools in preventing youth disconnection.

Read the full report here. Read the Education Week coverage here.

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Jeffrey Charbonneau named teacher of the year

In a special ceremony at the EMP, State Superintendent Randy Dorn named Zillah High School science teacher Jeffrey Charbonneau Washington’s 2013 Teacher of the Year.

Jeffrey Charbonneau is a National Board Certified Teacher and has been teaching at Zillah High School for eleven years. During his tenure at the school, Mr. Charbonneu has been an integral part of creating STEM courses, allowing students to earn college credit. He also created a Robotics Challenge and a Hiking Club and serves as an advisor to several student clubs, including yearbook.

In a statement to the press, Zillah High School Principal Mike Torres said, “I am fortunate to have Jeff as an instructor at Zillah High School. But I am even more fortunate to have him as a teacher for my own children. Both my son and daughter have taken classes from Jeff and they have expressed that he is the type of teacher every student deserves to have. He is innovative, enthusiastic, challenging and motivating. He takes a personal interest in every student. As a parent, I see how Jeff has motivated my children, not only to learn the content, but also to become advocates for learning in general. It is what makes him a standout.”

Congratulations to Mr. Charbonneau and all of the nominees!

Find out more here.

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OSPI hosting webinars on Common Core

Washington is set to begin implementing Common Core Standards and OSPI is offering up several webinars for those looking for more understanding on the standards. The webinars will be focused on the three different levels of Common Core Implementation:

  • District and Building CCSS System Coordination – Systems-implementation focus for connecting leaders, programs, and instruction across content areas to support strong implementation of the CCSS.
  • Mathematics CCSS Content – In-depth focus on the mathematics shifts within the CCSS and resources available within Washington and nationally.
  • English Language Arts CCSS Content – In-depth focus on the ELA content shifts, as well as critical linkages and implications within the CCSS across subject areas and disciplines.

The next webinar will be taking place September 18th and will focus on Math. OSPI will be hosting webinars on Common Core Standards through May of 2013.

For those seeking more background information, The webinar archives can be found here.

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