High-quality instructional time

A number of bills are being heard this week in the House and Senate related to instructional time—the amount of time students are in school engaged in learning activities. In Washington, instructional time includes any time from the first bell of the day to when students are released at the end of the day, minus the lunch period. Included in this definition are passing times, recess, and parent-teacher conferences.

At the League of Education Voters, we believe high-quality instructional time:

  • Actively engages students in learning
  • Provides students with the knowledge needed to meet academic goals
  • Helps develop social emotional or other non-academic skills that contribute to academic success
  • Enables students to demonstrate their knowledge by completing tasks, assignments, or tests
  • Is inclusive of teacher/parent-guardian conferences that discuss a student’s educational needs
  • Minimizes the amount of days teachers aren’t in the classroom due to other professional responsibilities

The League of Education Voters anticipates that with the full funding of McCleary v. Washington, there will be more, not less, K–12 instructional time for our students. Professional development time for teachers is critically important, but it must not come at the expense of student instructional time. Teachers must be paid for a full work day, like any professional, and this time must include state-funded, principal-directed professional development.

Here is a quick summary of the bills under consideration:

SB 5982—Preserving K–12 Instructional Time
Sponsored by Senator Ericksen, this bill would limit the number of early release and late start days to seven within the 180-day school year except for unforeseen events. If a district seeks a waiver for more, then each additional partial day shall count for no more than a 1/2-day for purposes of allocation and distribution of state funds.

SB 6064—Requiring an analysis of how school districts use school days
Sponsored by Senators Fain and Litzow, this bill directs the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to conduct a study of how the school day is used, including how districts define classroom and instructional time, and how and when non instructional hours are used.

SB 6082—Concerning K–12 Instructional Hours
Sponsored by Senator McCoy, this bill adds teacher collaboration time to the definition of instructional hours.

SB 6189—Delaying the requirement for increased K–12 instructional hours
Sponsored by Senator Hargrove, this bill delays the requirement for increased instructional hours to 1080 in grades 7–12 from 2014–15 to 2016–17.

Two bills intend to highlight how often school districts hire teachers after the start of the school year due to unreliable enrollment information available to them.

SB 6153—Requiring the collection of teacher attendance that matches student, course, and teacher
Sponsored by Senator Litzow at the request of the Professional Educators Standards Board, this bill directs the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to collect daily teacher attendance data that matches the student, course, and teacher.

HB 2575—Requiring that certain teacher assignment and reassignment data be included in data submitted to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)
Sponsored by Representatives Bergquist and Dahlquist at the request of the Professional Educators Standards Board, this bill requires school districts, no later than the beginning of the 2014–2015 school year, to include dates of teacher assignments and reassignments in the data they submit to OSPI.

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