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Live Blog: CSTP’s proposal

Posted by Heather
Time: 11:20am-11:40am

Group: Jeanne Harmon, Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession

 

Ms. Harmon began with induction programs, picking up from the discussion begun during Dr. Bergeson’s first presentation. She briefly compared Washington’s induction program with Oregon, California and Connecticut, looking mostly at funding and structure. Ms. Harmon also advocated for state-wide mandatory induction for all new teachers to help reduce attrition rates. She raised the issue of public vs. private colleges, as 16 of the 22 degree-granting institutions in Washington are not state-funded.

 

Superintendent Kowalkowski asked about where certain “exemplar” districts funds comes from. Ms. Harmon’s answer: local levy and I-728 dollars.

 

Chairman Grimm asked about the selectivity of teacher training programs. Ms. Harmon responded that our system allows most applicants to earn certificates and relies on the marketplace to weed out low performers. Two other system models are 1) having high entrance requirements and allowing in a small group of applicants to teacher preparation programs, and 2) allowing in more applicants while having high exit requirements to earn a certificate.

 

Jennifer Wallace of the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) came forward and mentioned the four alternative certification pathways in Washington, as well as some upcoming PESB reports. Rep. Hunter asked about the number of candidates in alternative routes. Ms. Wallace said it’s roughly 120 per year.

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Live Blog: Edmonds Education Association and Edmonds School District

Posted by Heather
Time: 11:05am-11:20am

Group: Edmonds Education Association and Edmonds School District

The folks from Edmonds focused on teacher compensation and made a proposal meant to move away from steps and lanes and toward a more performance-based model. The model includes five components: instruction (standards referenced), data-based instructional growth (meeting professional goals), professional development (and demonstration of mastery), new and challenging situations (stipends and/or additional support), and leadership/active participation (additional pay for additional responsibilities).

Rep. Hunter asked, “What about teachers who do not demonstrate competence?” The group offered an answer about helping struggling teachers improve, while not allowing those who are not improving to stay in the classroom ad infinitum.

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Live Blog: Sup. Bergeson's Proposal

Posted by Heather
Time: 9:15am-10:45am

Group: Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson

Proposals for Quality Education Development, Compensation and Support

 

Dr. Bergeson was the lead-off presenter and came with a meaty proposal (100+ pages). The first chunk dealt with teacher training, retention and compensation. Her three main proposals were to 1) strengthen induction and professional development programs, and 2) develop a new compensation model, based on more than experience and education and offering additional pay for certain positions and obtaining results.

 

The presentation reflected the density of the proposal, taking more than 90 minutes and peppered with plenty of back and forth between the Task Force, Dr. Bergeson and her panel of experts (including Jeanne Harmon of the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP), Jennifer Priddy of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Jennifer Wallace of the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB)). See the jump for a more detailed account of Dr. Bergeson’s presentation.

 

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“The time for bold education reform solutions is now.”

League of Education Voters Foundation Proposes Major Reforms to Washington’s Education Finance System

Proposal to be presented to Basic Education Finance Task Force

SEATTLE – The League of Education Voters Foundation (LEVF) will propose major reforms to Washington’s public education system at the Basic Education Finance Task Force meeting Tuesday, June 10.

“The time for bold education reform solutions is now,” said Lisa Macfarlane, co-founder of the League of Education Voters Foundation. “We’ve got a once in a lifetime opportunity to redesign our public schools to work for the next 30 years.”

LEVF’s proposal, A Way Forward, is the culmination of a yearlong effort to develop a new education finance model that prepares all students for college and the workforce.

“We based A Way Forward on one simple premise: we need a public education system that will prepare all students to succeed in today’s competitive economy,” Macfarlane said.

A Way Forward proposes a series of reforms and investments to achieve results and boost student achievement.

“Today’s education finance system is overly complex and too prescriptive,” said Ken Hoover, superintendent of Monroe Public Schools and co-author of A Way Forward. “This proposal would give local school leaders more flexibility to solve problems and then hold them accountable.”

“The state does not provide enough funding for what it costs to educate students today. Communities have stepped up to subsidize public education through local levies.” Macfarlane said. “Our proposal redefines Washington’s commitment to public education.”

LEVF will present A Way Forward to the Basic Education Finance Task Force in Olympia on Tuesday, June 10 at 9 AM in House Hearing Room B, O’Brien Building.

Click here to view the full proposal.

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The League of Education Voters Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization dedicated to engaging ordinary citizens, educators, policymakers and the media in the effort to provide a quality education for all students in Washington State from early learning through post-secondary education.

Posted in: Blog, LEV News, Press Releases & Statements

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Class of 2008 rises to the challenge

Posted by Heather

 

 

Yesterday, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson gave an update on the Class of 2008, and fortunately the news is much better than the train wreck many predicted. Of the 67,000 or so high school seniors in the state, more than 61,000 (or 91 percent) have passed the reading and writing WASL exams or the equivalent. But keep in mind, this passing rate does not include the 9,000+ students who have dropped out or the 9,500+ students who have been reclassified into other grades.

 

Below are breakdowns of passing rates by ethnic groups and special programs. The gap between ethnic groups is shrinking (now less than 9 percent); however the numbers are less encouraging for English language learner and special education students.

 

What the WASL passing rates don’t show are the number of seniors who lack enough credits to graduate. In a 13-district sample study conducted by OSPI, 62.5 percent of the 10,000+ students in December 2007 were on track in credits and passed both required WASL exams. Another 5.3 percent of students were on track with credits but had not passed both WASL exams.

 

Dr. Bergeson also spoke to dropout statistics for the Class of 2008. We don’t yet, and won’t until the fall/winter, have a clear picture of the number of kids in the Class of 2008 who have dropped out of high school. And while any dropout rate is troublesome, it looks like the cohort dropout rate for the Class of 2008 will either hold steady with or be lower than rates for the past few cohorts (average of 21 percent over the last four years). So despite the anticipated panic, the WASL as graduation requirement is not causing students to mass exodus from schools.

 

Below is a graphical look at the mobility of the Class of 2008, from OSPI.

 

 

At the end of her presentation, Dr. Bergeson talked about next steps to drive further student achievement. Along with plans to strengthen options for English language learners and struggling students, she pointedly called out the need for an increase in funding in basic education. This is a rather timely assertion as the Basic Education Finance Task Force will hear proposals from various organizations, LEV included, next week in Olympia. 

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Schools Doing Great Things

Posted by Molly

Sometimes I feel like I spend all of my time thinking about the problems in our education system — kids falling through the cracks of a broken system, teachers struggling to effectively teach a class of nearly 30 students, and school districts making tough budget cuts while navigating the levy/bond gauntlet.  Reform often seems daunting, intimidating, overwhelming, and at times impossible.  However, there are teachers, schools and organizations doing amazing things for our kids.  I want to highlight just a few that I have had the opportunity to see firsthand.

The New School

The New School is a Seattle public school that receives supplemental funding through a private foundation.  With the additional funds, the New School is able to provide a comprehensive curriculum to its students, with a strong emphasis on quality programs and excellent and enthusiastic staff.  During my visit, I was amazed to see kindergarteners counting by tens to 100 and second graders making graphs to illustrate data.  It was inspiring to see these students rising to the challenge of high standards in such a supportive learning community.

Meany Middle School

Located in the heart of Capitol Hill, Meany is dealing with the typical problems that most urban schools in our country face — large populations of free and reduced-price lunch, ELL, and special needs students.   However, the teachers, staff and students of Meany are working hard and doing some really great things.  Due to private financial support from the Nesholm Foundation, Meany has recently undertaken the challenge of integrating the arts into the curriculum and the evidence is apparent when you walk into the building.  Poems, self-portraits and drawings line the hallways and the students’ pride is palpable.  I was lucky enough to be there on a day when students were sharing poems from their poetry portfolios.  Some of the themes of the poems were very mature; it was clear that a lot of these students are grappling with some very serious issues in their lives.  I was touched by the strength, wisdom and empowerment of the students as they were sharing.  This was just one day in one classroom, but it was clear that the students of Meany are flourishing.

The New School and Meany Middle School are combining quality programs, high standards and excellent staff that lead to higher student achievement. Progress does not come without costs however. Private foundation grants provide critical additional funding to allow for smart, strategic investments in programs that work. I was lucky enough to see progress at work in the classroom. With statewide per-student spending lagging far behind (43rd in the nation currently), clearly there is an urgent need to increase smart investments across Washington.

I encourage everyone to look to these great schools and programs for inspiration.

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Second Time’s a Charm in Renton

Posted by Molly

Good news for the Renton School District — it looks like their $150 million construction bond is going to pass. The bond failed to get the required 60 percent supermajority during the first election in March by just 78 votes. As of Thursday, the bond was receiving a 61.56 percent “yes” vote, which is above the 60 percent needed for passage.  Although levies can now pass with a simple majority, bonds still require the 60 percent supermajority.

The election results won’t be certified until June 4, but it is looking really good.

Congratulations Renton School District!

Posted in: Blog, Elections, Funding

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Two Million Minutes: An Essential Wake Up Call

Posted by Bonnie

Last week I attended a film screening of Two Million Minutes, a documentary comparing college preparation in India, China and America. The film was introduced by creator Robert Compton, a venture capitalist who travels to India and China frequently for business and decided it was time for Americans to wake up.

Robert Compton introduced the film by showing some shocking statistics. Alone the statistics wouldn’t bother you. They might seem trivial and even silly. Together they illustrate an intimidating picture of an America that has already fallen behind.

– Tallest building is in Taipei
– Largest publicly traded company is in Beijing
– Biggest refinery is being constructed in India
– Largest passenger airplane is built in Europe
– Biggest movie industry is Bollywood
– Largest casino is in Macao
– Only two of the world’s ten richest people are American.

Only ten years ago America would have topped almost every one of these categories.

Two million minutes is the four-year period that a student will spend in high school. How a student spends their Two Million Minutes—in class, at home studying, playing sports, working, sleeping, socializing—will affect their economic prospects for the rest of their lives. The film follows a male and female high school student in China, India and America and analyzes how each of these students prepares for their next step. Admittedly these students are the cream of the academic crop, however the differences in their preparation is shocking. Case in point, here is a comparison of math and science courses taken by high achieving students in the US and India:

America
Not required for graduation, but typical of high achieving students. Keep in mind, Washington currently only requires two years of math.
Physics – 1 year
Chemistry – 1 year
Biology – 1 year
Math – 4 years
Computer Science – 1 year

India
ISCE National Standard that starts in 8th grade and is required for graduation on technology track.
Physics – 5 years
Chemistry – 5 years
Biology – 5 years
Math – 5 years
Computer Science – 5 years

The movie also showed that the students in India and China are not only doing math and science to a higher level—their education is more rigorous across the board including music and language.

Robert’s argument throughout the film is clear: our culture needs to change. High poverty and rare opportunities for achievement in India and China have fostered a culture where ‘cool’ is equated with success. While success is most often equated with engineering or computer science, other fields are pursued. Most importantly, their plans are ambitious. The students in India and China seemed to reach for the highest possible achievement and realized that even if they didn’t make it, plans B, C, & D were still well above average. Apoorva’s father described it best by saying, “I want her to be able to face any situation fearlessly.” For him, her education is about giving her options and opportunity in an increasingly globalized world.

Click here to check out the trailer.

Posted in: Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma

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Talk to the State Board of Education

Posted by Michael

The Washington State Board of Education will hold 3 community engagement meetings in June to hear your thoughts on high school graduation requirements and accountability. It’s important that education advocates weigh in at these meetings.

The State Board will consider your feedback when they convene in July to make key decisions about the number of credits Washington’s students need to graduate from high school. Currently, our state’s minimum high school graduation requirements do not match minimum college admissions requirements.

Luckily, I had a great high school counselor who told me to take 3 years of math, instead of the minimum of 2 to graduate. But we shouldn’t rely on luck to ensure Washington’s students have the opportunity to go to college or enter the workforce with the skills needed to succeed.

Posted in: Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma

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Standing room only

Posted by George

It was standing room only at Tuesday’s meeting of the Basic Education Finance Task Force. As the Task Force bears down on the work of designing a better, more ample funding plan for schools, the room is filling with advocates, educators, print reporters and TVW. Soon we’re going to need a bigger room.

Most school advocates were encouraged by the sense that the Task Force is finally grappling with the rude question of what should be included in the cost of basic education. There were no academic discussions or presentations by visitors from out-of-state, just our own officials wrestling with the situation on the ground here in Washington.

Steve Aos, with the Washington Institute for Public Policy, the state agency that is staffing the Task Force, led off with his conclusions from the institute’s two major lines of research on compensation and class size. The state’s teacher salary schedule, which stretches incremental pay increases over 16 years, does not align well with the research that shows that the biggest gains in teacher effectiveness are in the first six years. A smarter system would aim to reward productivity gains, not simply years of service. On the issue of class size, the evidence is clear that reduced class sizes in grades K-3 matter. Mr. Aos even quantified the return on that investment: 10 to 16 percent over the lifetime of students.

That led to a vigorous discussion among members over the relative value of master degrees and years of experience. Experience won. Chair Dan Grimm was struck by Bremerton Superintendent Bette Hyde’s observation that her teachers all too frequently moved to other districts where they were paid more for the same job. How does that square with the state’s constitutional obligation to provide a “general and uniform” system of public schools?

Next, Rep. Ross Hunter presented his vision for a cost-based model for K-12 funding. He begins with a simple, bold—and unassailable—premise: build the K-12 budget around what kids need to meet the state’s high school graduation requirements. Because the State Board of Education is proposing to raise the minimum requirements so that high school graduates are prepared for college or meaningful employment, he starts there: fully fund 24 core credits, including three years of math and four years of English. At a minimum, this would mean funding six periods of high school instead of five.

Rep. Hunter would have the state build and cost out four model school programs (K-4, 4-5, 6-8 and 9-12) and then write the K-12 budget to fund them. He also proposes the state build and cost out model programs for English Language Learners, free and reduced-price lunch and special education students, programs reasonable people would agree are needed to provide all students with the opportunity to meet the state’s graduation requirements.

Rep. Hunter wants to require the Legislature to make explicit decisions about key cost drivers that are now obscure: class sizes, number of periods per day, and amount of teacher preparation time. He proposed further adjusting the high school model program costs to reflect four kinds of students: typical, struggling, honors and Career and Technical Education. And to avoid descending into the weeds, he imposes on each model school program the one-page rule.

Rep. Hunter wants the state to allocate funding for these model programs as a single block grant, and allow local districts to make actual spending decisions as they think best. To the extent districts choose to spend funds differently than the state allocation model, let them defend those choices to their parents and voters.

Next, Jennifer Priddy, finance guru at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, presented a sobering snapshot of current financing trends in districts. Declining fund balances have become the norm. The bottom line is districts are too reliant on local funds ( levies and I-728 ) that don’t keep up with inflation to support their current staffing levels and salaries. Expect to see more and more districts facing financial insolvency.

Chair Grimm asked, how much of the problem is due to the State’s underfunding of basic education and how much to districts’ own spending decisions? Superintendent Hyde responded that districts are facing a perfect storm. The very year that students must meet the WASL graduation standards, all the superintendents she knows are being forced to make cuts. The responsibility for the problem falls squarely on the State.

Last up was Mary Jean Ryan, chair of the State Board of Education, who made a compelling case for raising graduation standards. Unlike the rest of the modern world, and every previous generation of Americans, today’s students will be less well-educated than their parent’s generation.

Chair Grimm asked, why not let local districts set their own graduation requirements? Ms. Ryan answered, in an increasingly globalized economy where our students need to compete with their peers from all over the world, local standards just don’t work.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson noted that district superintendents are telling her they can’t imagine how to fund 24 core graduation requirements with current resources. But once the State Board adopts these requirements, it’s hard to imagine how the State can evade responsibility for providing the programs students will need to meet them—which is precisely Rep. Hunter’s point.

Next meeting, stakeholder groups and concerned individuals are invited to make presentations. The League of Education Voters plans to be one of them. Our focus will be ample funding and needed structural reforms.

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