Posts Tagged accountability

Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: There’s Also a Price When We Don’t Pay

Chris Korsmo

Happy Friday to you, Friends!

If you’re playing along at home, we are two weeks past the midway point of the legislative session. You can keep score here. Let’s dive right in.

If You Spend it They Will Come: If it’s true what Oscar Wilde (and with slight revisions, P.T. Barnum) said, “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about,” then Senate Republicans should feel great about their budget coverage. You cannot swing a dirty sweat sock in this town without breathless headlines and clever turns of phrase. With a $1.8 billion increase to K-12 education, Senate Republicans have said they are fully funding “basic education,” the point of the McCleary decision and subsequent rulings by the Supreme Court. The budget gives further legs to the Senate’s education plan released earlier this session with levy reform playing a leading role in the “how to pay for it” discussion. We can all agree that there’s also a price when we don’t pay…

This opening budget salvo did come at a price to higher education, early learning, housing and food assistance – cuts we hope are restored (and then some) when final negotiation are under way. And at the time of this writing it looks like Republican senators are open to those conversations. With the Senate budget out, we expect the House to put their plan forward next week. Both chambers would do well to invite this journalist to the negotiating party.

Rigorous Rigor: Last week I had a little soapbox moment about the attempts to roll back high school graduation requirements. This week, there’s more evidence that raising expectations (and supports) raises outcomes. Sometimes you gotta ask yourself whether it’s funny when you’re the butt of the joke.

De Minimizing the De Minimis: You may have noticed the Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch was engaged in multiple rounds of Senate confirmation hearings this week. A funny thing happened on the way to the marble arch. The U.S. Supreme Court – they of the even numbered variety for over a year now – managed a unanimous decision. On special education. Overturning a case from the 10th Circuit from which Gorsuch hails. I’m not one who typically exalts the writings of Chief Justice Roberts, but do not miss this:

“When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing ‘merely more than de minimis’ progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all,” wrote Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who wrote the 16-page opinion. “For children with disabilities, receiving instruction that aims so low would be tantamount to ‘sitting idly… awaiting the time when they were old enough to “drop out.” ’ ”


Lovely, Lively Reads:

As always, thank you for all you do on behalf of our kids.



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Posted in: Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Closing the Gaps, Early Learning, Funding, Higher Education, Weekly Roundup

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Every Student Succeeds Act Public Comments

College and Career Ready - League of Education Voters

Parents, students, teachers, and community members can help shape the public education policy that will affect students for years to come.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has created a draft Consolidated Plan that outlines how the state intends to implement the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). From now until mid-February 2017, OSPI is taking your comments on the Consolidated Plan. Submit your feedback HERE.

ESSA builds on key themes of the bill it replaces, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, while allowing states more say in how to address struggling schools. While NCLB brought focus to education gaps across the nation, the bill was punitive towards schools that weren’t succeeding. ESSA instead allows states to dictate what measures will be taken, working to improve schools by offering professional development opportunities, teacher recruitment and retention incentives, and more.

Sponsored by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the U.S. Congress passed ESSA in December 2015. The bill will be implemented in America’s schools in the 2017–18 school year.

Learn more about the Consolidated Plan public comment period at


Posted in: Blog, Closing the Gaps, ESSA, School Discipline

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Listen to the Superintendent of Public Instruction Candidates in Their Own Words

Superintendent of Public Instruction candidates Erin Jones (L) and Chris Reykdal

Superintendent of Public Instruction candidates Erin Jones (L) and Chris Reykdal

The League of Education Voters interviewed both candidates for Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

Listen to Erin Jones HERE

Listen to Chris Reykdal HERE

Note: The League of Education Voters did not promote or endorse either candidate.

Posted in: Blog, Closing the Gaps, Elections, ESSA, Funding, Higher Education, Media Clips, Podcast, School Discipline, Teacher Prep

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Flexibility in exchange for accountability at Kent’s iGrad Academy

iGrad Academy Principal Carol Cleveland

iGrad Academy Principal Carol Cleveland

Kent School District’s iGrad Academy is a program unlike any other in the district. Comprised of six pathways, students choose from a range of opportunities.  They can earn a high school diploma or two-year AA degree as iGrad fosters unique plans for individual students that did not find educational success at their previous school. iGrad offers what Principal Carol Cleveland calls a 1418 program, which follows a nontraditional calendar year, nontraditional instructional hours, a lower teacher-to-student ratio, a lower counselor-to-student ratio, and commits to addressing the needs of the whole child.  These unique elements are what make iGrad one of a kind.

As a young girl, Principal Cleveland dreamed of becoming a doctor but education ran in the family. After substitute teaching in Georgia, she witnessed a lack of adequate attention given to students with special learning needs. These students were being directed down a path that would ultimately create a larger achievement gap. It was this experience that made her realize the education system needed her help.

Determined to influence educational policy, decision making, and progress for students like those with special needs, Cleveland began working tirelessly. In 2012, such determination brought her to her position today as the leader and principal of iGrad Academy.

As an advocate for specialized education systems, Cleveland is passionate about the iGrad program and curriculum. The basic principle of the program, she says, is to grant young learners and educators the flexibility to think and operate outside of the box to ensure that students are college, career, and life ready. Such a foundation enables all those who attend, and teach, to have more freedom. The teachers at iGrad all believe that students can learn and experience academic, social, and personal success. Common belief in individual potential creates a strong bond between educator and student and contributes to the success of the program.

At iGrad, relationships are everything. Principal Cleveland goes out of her way to get to know every single student. By setting up monthly meetings with students, Cleveland takes a hands-on approach as school leader. She hears directly from participants in the program about what is and is not working. For students to reach their goals, Cleveland values listening to what they want and what they need. As a result, iGrad has seen exponential educational growth.

After several years at iGrad and tracking the progress of the program and its students, Principal Cleveland is thinking about the future. By working to strengthen relationships between middle schools and high schools, businesses and colleges, Cleveland hopes to expand opportunities to teach students how to apply what they are learning in the classroom to the real world. Students gain greater insight and create more options for themselves when they learn from business professionals which skills and abilities are desirable in employees.

Unfortunately, funding remains a challenge for the program. In addition to statewide inadequacies in support for public education, Open Door programs have different accountability measures and that can directly impact funding.   Even though students don’t always show academic progress in accordance with state timelines, Principal Cleveland and her staff believe that every student can learn. Many students have been given the tools needed to move forward in their educational pursuit by attending iGrad and Cleveland hopes the community will continue to support her efforts to increase the number of success stories.

Carol Cleveland’s medical career never took flight but she is healing broken dreams and changes hundreds of lives every day. Through her dedication to closing the opportunity gap and her success as the leader of iGrad Academy, she has created a pathway to success for many young adults who have struggled to find their own way. The League of Education Voters celebrates this amazing woman and her stellar program.

Caring, innovative, supportive, flexible, and successful – shouldn’t Carol Cleveland’s approach be basic education?

iGrad Academy is grateful for the support students receive from community members.  If you are interested in making a donation, iGrad is always in need of the following items:

School Supplies:  paper, pencils, pens, pee-chee style folders, spiral single-subject notebooks

Metro Bus tickets / Orca Cards: Help students get to and from school

Graduation Items: Gowns, Caps, Tassels

Toiletry items: for males and females, all ethnicities

New undergarments: for males and females

Gift Cards for achievement prizes: Starbucks, Fred Meyer, Target, etc…

One time need:

Female and Male mannequin (to dress in caps and gowns for inspiration)

Young Adult Books:

Many iGrad students love to read and the Academy is working to build a library of young adult books for them. If you’re interested in making a donation, there are lists of suggested titles and authors below:

King County Library System Teen Booklist:

Alex Award for Young Adult Fiction:

Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers:

Other Specific Publishers:



Other Specific Authors:

Ellen Hopkins

Allison Van Diepen’s urban fiction

Other Specific Title:

Nickel Plated

If you prefer to donate cash:

If you prefer to donate cash, iGrad Academy has established a trust fund which is used to purchase items that will allow students to focus on their learning. In addition to the above items, the Trust Fund may purchase online access for a student without internet, required materials for a college class, or a change of clothing for a homeless student.  Please call 253.373.4723 to express interest.


Posted in: Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Closing the Gaps

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Conditional support for the revised Achievement Index

The wheels of progress moved forward yesterday for Washington state, no thanks to the state legislature.

While the legislature convened for its second special session to pass a 2013-15 budget, a working group of the State Board of Education (SBE) advanced a significant piece of work to enhance our state’s K-12 accountability system.

Last spring Washington state applied for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind requirements and received a one-year conditional waiver. This waiver can be renewed for a second year if the state meets certain interim benchmarks.

One of those benchmarks is updating our Achievement Index.  As part of its work to update the Index, the SBE convened an advisory Achievement and Accountability Workgroup (AAW) to collect stakeholder input as it develops the revised Index.  LEV has participated in the AAW since its inception last fall.

The AAW voted yesterday to support the draft Index.  LEV was among a handful of conditional support votes.

The current draft of the Index is a substantial step up from what we have now.  The proposal incorporates student growth, includes measures to try and close achievement gaps, and includes a college and career readiness indicator.

Despite the good work that has been done, LEV still has significant concerns about how English Language Learner (ELL) students are or are not incorporated into the Index:

1) Though student growth and proficiency data of current ELL students are included as part of the Limited English subgroup in the Index, English language acquisition data of ELL students is not incorporated in the Index.

2) We support the recommendations of the Quality Education Council (“QEC”), in their 2010 study, that long term outcome goals for ELL students who have exited TBIP should be included in the state accountability system.

As a recent Seattle Times editorial stated, it is critical that we get this right.

We look forward to working with our partners both on the AAW and elsewhere to continue to tackle the issue of how best to hold our education system accountable for the outcomes of ELL students, special education students, and all groups who have had persistent and unacceptable opportunity and achievement gaps in our state.



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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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New study looks at what it takes to attract and support talented principals

CRPE (the Center of Reinventing Public Education) released a a study titled Principal Concerns: Leadership Data and Strategies for States which explores what states do (and can do) to “find, deploy,  and keep good principals.”

As the study notes, principals are an extremely important component to education. Principals are responsible for hiring teachers and enacting and developing school policies that increase student success. In fact, researchers cite a study which says that principals account for a quarter for “school’s total impact on student achievement.”

According to the research, states are just now beginning to implement legislation to support strong principals. Some districts, such as  New York City, New Orleans, Chicago, Hartford, and Denver have enacted laws that have given principles more decision making power by getting rid of mandates that deal with “requirements in schools, class sizes, how many students can be in a class, and how teacher time must be used.” Some states and districts have also worked to ensure budget flexibility enact competitive pay.

CRPE provides suggestions for state policymakers to aid them when it comes to attracting and keeping talented principals which includes looking at and publishing data, choosing high impact options, encouraging  districts to try new things, and linking principal policies to teacher policies.

Read the full study here (PDF).

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Comparing President Obama and Governor Romney's education plans

On the NPR segment Tell me More, host Michele Martin interviewed Education Week writer Alyson Klein about the two presidential candidates’ education platforms.

The interview kicked off with Martin asking Klein how she and those in the education policy field feel about the amount of attention that education was getting (or not getting) at the two conventions. Klein responded that in the case of both the DNC and RNC, education has been a side issue to the economy.

Martin then asked Klein to compare Obama and Romney’s education stances. Klein said that Romney’s plan asks for a “robust” role for private school choice. If elected, Romney would give federal dollars directly to parents to use at public or private schools. Klein confirmed that the Obama administration has spent a record amount of education, in spite of the recession. The administration has spent $100 billion on education in the stimulus plan and has awarded grants in several different Race to the Top competitions.

Klein said that both candidates are “big fans of charter schools” and both want teacher evaluations revamped.

Listen to the full interview here.

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Identifying high-performing and high-progress "Reward Schools"

OSPI recently released the list of “Reward Schools” for the 2012-2013 school year. Reward Schools are categorized in to Reward A and Reward B. Schools with Reward A designation are among the highest performing, having met the Annual Yearly Progress Progress (AYP) for three years in a row in Math and Reading and displaying no significant in-school opportunity gap. Schools with Reward B designation are high progress and have been in the top 10 percent for Reading and Math AYP scores for three years.

There are eight Reward A schools and 50 Reward B schools, making 58 in total. There are currently 2,349 public schools in Washington state.

In order to be eligible for an ESEA waiver, states had to identifying Reward A and Reward B schools. We wrote about Washington’s ESEA waiver agreement here.

Check out the full list of reward schools here.

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Arne Duncan addresses teachers

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently addressed a group of teachers in Baltimore on the Obama administration’s education platform.

In the address, Secretary Duncan stated some of the Obama administration’s accomplishments. “President Obama spent $60 billion to keep teachers in the classroom,” he said. “That’s why he’s calling for another $25 billion right now to protect teaching jobs.That’s why – year after year – he has protected education from budget cuts – and that’s why he has pushed a bold agenda for change.”

He also addressed some of the challenges that U.S. face when it comes to education. “The fact is that today 25 percent of our kids don’t even graduate from high school,” he said. “About half of all students who go to community college need remedial education. And over 90 million adults in America have limited literacy skills. Our families, our communities, and our country deserve better. And we won’t change those numbers without high standards and high expectations.”

The secretary ended his address with inspirational stories from teachers across the country, including one about Shira Fishman from Washington D.C. who took a pay major cut when she went from a job as an engineer to one as a teacher and believes strongly in accountability and teacher evaluations. “Teachers who are struggling need to be helped. The ones that are continuously ineffective need to find a different career because it’s not good for the kids. Those that are good need to be acknowledged and used by the school to help everyone get better.”

Read Secretary Duncan’s address here.

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