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.