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Graduating all students college and career ready in Washington

A campaign for the strongest rules possible in the implementation of Washington’s new high school diploma culminated in a big win for kids. Read the story of our journey below.

Posted in: Advocacy and Activism, Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, LEV News

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Activist of the Month: Ashley Guerra

At the League of Education Voters (LEV), we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state. We are pleased to announce our Activist of the Month for July: Ashley Guerra. Read more about her experience leveraging technology to improve parental involvement in education.

The Guerra family at the June 6 State Board of Education forum. From left: From left to right, Ashley, her younger brother Julito, her mom Yelenys, and her dad Julio.

The Guerra family at the June 6 State Board of Education forum. From left: From left to right, Ashley, her younger brother Julito, her mom Yelenys, and her dad Julio.

Ashley Guerra just finished her first year of high school, so it might surprise you to hear that we chose her as our Activist of the Month for July. But it won’t surprise you for very long.

Ashley recently testified at the State Board of Education’s forum on the updated high school diploma for Washington. Her focus was parent engagement.

Her goal to increase parent engagement began as a school project at Kent-Meridian High School, which has the lowest graduation rate in Kent. Ashley and her peers decided to try to find a way to improve Kent-Meridian’s graduation rate.

After researching strategies that have been shown to improve the graduation rate, Ashley and her project group members decided to focus on parent engagement. (more…)

Posted in: Activist of the Month, Advocacy and Activism, Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, LEV News

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On the proposed rules for E2SSB 6552

League of Education Voters CEO Chris Korsmo sent the following letter to all Washington state legislators earlier today regarding the proposed rules for E2SSB 6552.

On behalf of the League of Education Voters, I applaud the Legislature for the passage of E2SSB 6552 and for the explicit recognition that “preparing students to be successful… requires increased rigor and achievement, including attaining a meaningful high school diploma with the opportunity to earn twenty-four credits.” I strongly agree and thank you for your leadership.

With the passage of 6552, we have a law that can increase rigor, empower local control and ensure consistency at the state level for high school graduation requirements.

At the League of Education Voters, we believe that every student in Washington state should have access to an excellent public education that provides the opportunity for success. E2SSB 6552 is a step in that direction. But only if implemented well.

Next week, the State Board of Education will vote on proposed rules guiding the implementation of this new law.

We have a number of concerns related to the implementation of the law and the proposed rules that are addressed in detail in the attached document.

Of particular concern to the League of Education Voters is the provision allowing students to waive credits. We have an economic imperative as a state to ensure that students are ready for the next step after high school, whether that is a career or post-secondary education. However, allowing any of the 24 credits to be waived results in less rigor, not more. In addition, high school graduation requirements should be consistent across the state. The proposed rules include significant flexibility for both school districts and for students, which incorporates the extensive discussions leading up to the passage of 6552. The State Board of Education has done exactly what the Legislature authorized them to do and any further changes to E2SSB 6552 should be made through additional legislation.

Thank you again for your work to ensure that each Washington student graduates from high school with a college and career ready diploma and the opportunity for success. Please review the attached addendum for more information about our specific concerns on the updated high school diploma. I welcome hearing from you on this important issue and working together during the 2015 legislative session.

Sincerely,

Chris Korsmo
CEO

Att: On the proposed rules for E2SSB 6552

Posted in: Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, LEV News, Press Releases & Statements

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Making the College and Career Ready Diploma a Reality

By Kelly Munn, State Field Director

A meaningful high school diploma. (Image of graduating students.)The College and Career Ready Diploma became law with the passage of SB 6552 this past legislative session. That was a huge win, and it took many of you to make it happen.

Thank you. Thank you for the emails, the calls, the testimonies, for the late nights you spent working to get the College and Career Ready Diploma passed.

Now we need your help to make sure the diploma works the way it’s supposed to. (more…)

Posted in: Advocacy and Activism, Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Closing the Gaps, LEV News

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Activist(s) of the Month: Sarah Butcher, Jennifer Karls, Beth Sigall

At the League of Education Voters (LEV), we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state. We are pleased to announce our Activists of the Month for April: Sarah Butcher, Jennifer Karls, and Beth Sigall. Read more about their experiences as strong advocates for special education.

Sarah Butcher, Jennifer Karls, and Beth Sigall are strong advocates for public education in Washington state. Sarah and Jennifer formed the Bellevue Special Needs PTA in 2012, where Jennifer serves as President and Sarah as co-Vice President. Beth serves as the Vice President of Advocacy for the Lake Washington PTSA Council. (more…)

Posted in: Activist of the Month, Advocacy and Activism, Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Closing the Gaps, Legislative session, LEV News, School Discipline

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The 2014 Legislative Session

The 2014 legislative session may have been short, but there were significant policy accomplishments in improving public education in Washington state. These accomplishments expand access to financial aid for higher education for all Washington students, pave the way for all students to graduate from high school ready for college or career, and make steps toward reducing the opportunity and achievement gaps. (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Closing the Gaps, Higher Education, Legislative session, LEV News

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A multifaceted approach yields a strong step forward in closing the opportunity and achievement gaps

By Beth Richer, League of Education Voters Government Relations

Governor Jay Inslee signs the Dream Act (Real Hope Act). Photo by the Seattle PI. Governor Jay Inslee signs the Dream Act (Real Hope Act). Photo by the Seattle PI.

Governor Jay Inslee signs the Dream Act (Real Hope Act). Photo by the Seattle PI.

Within any given legislative session there are victories, defeats, and measures left in a state of limbo. The 2014 session was no different. But amidst those victories, defeats, and states of limbo, there was an underlying theme for much of the education legislation related to the opportunity gap. Legislators, advocacy organizations, teachers, parents, students, and business leaders alike all said loud and clear: “We must take action to close the gaps and address our most underserved students.” (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Closing the Gaps, Legislative session, LEV News

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Activist of the Month: Paulina Zepeda

At the League of Education Voters (LEV), we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state. We are pleased to announce our Activist of the Month for March: Paulina Zepeda. Read more about Paulina’s experience as an advocate and activist.

Paulina Zepeda (right) with LEV Community Organizer Micaela Razo

Paulina Zepeda (right) with LEV Community Organizer Micaela Razo

Paulina Zepeda is a high school student in the Grandview School District. That sounds pretty straightforward, until you learn that Paulina had to advocate to be allowed to attend school.

Paulina immigrated to Grandview from Colima, Mexico, two years ago. She was in high school in Colima, but because she was 18 years old when she arrived in Washington, she was told that she could not continue high school despite having transfer papers with class and grade information.

Paulina kept fighting to be able to attend school, and the school district eventually allowed her to attend but ignored her transcript from Colima and enrolled her in elective classes rather than core credits that would allow her to graduate. (more…)

Posted in: Activist of the Month, Advocacy and Activism, Blog, Legislative session, LEV News

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What a college and career ready high school diploma means

The field of Human Centered Design & Engineering is growing, and more than 80% of the program’s graduates are employed within 6 months of graduation. But Stephanie White, an undergraduate advisor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington, says that even though the undergraduate program has been flooded with applications, a lot of the students who want to study engineering in her department can’t—they simply don’t have the prerequisites to qualify. “Many students find out their junior year of high school that they don’t have the prerequisites to study STEM in college—by then it’s too late to take the courses they need.”

Sadly, Stephanie’s experience isn’t unusual. Only 4 in 10 graduating seniors meet the basic admissions requirements to get into a public university in Washington. And nearly 60% of students who attend community or technical college must take remediation classes to get to those basic 4-year college admissions requirements. In other words, many students must pay tuition to learn what they should have been taught in public high school. Help us to change this for Washington students by signing a petition in support of a college and career ready diploma.

(more…)

Posted in: Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Legislative session, LEV News, STEM

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Progress in Olympia on gap-closing legislation

The House Education committee voted a number of bills out of committee this morning, including one of LEV’s priorities, 3SHB 1680, which focuses on closing the opportunity and achievement gaps utilizing a number of different strategies.

Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos is the primary sponsor of the bill, which was first introduced during the 2013 legislative session. The bill is based on recommendations from the Education Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee, which Representative Santos co-chairs, including: addressing disproportionality in school discipline, educator cultural competence, instructing English language learners (ELLs), ELL accountability, disaggregated student data, and the recruitment and retention of educators.

“The work needed to address the opportunity gap is a multifaceted issue, and it needs a multifaceted approach in order to purely address it. 1680 does that,” testified Beth Richer, a member of the League of Education Voters Government Relations team, during a House Education Committee session on Monday.

Washington students need champions, like Representative Santos and her colleagues in the House Education Committee, who are committed to closing the opportunity and achievement gaps. Stay up-to-date on the progress of the bill through the Washington legislature website and Chris Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup.

Posted in: Blog, Closing the Gaps, Legislative session, LEV News

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