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Students Must Be Ready for What Comes Next

Lisa Jiménez - League of Education VotersBy Lisabeth Jiménez
Guest Blogger

I am currently a sophomore at Columbia Basin College, where I major in political science with a minor in education. I attended two separate high schools before graduating in 2015: Delta High School, the first STEM high school in Washington, for 9th through 10th grade, and then I transferred to Pasco Senior High School to participate in Running Start, a program that allows students in the 11th and 12th grade to attend college courses to earn an Associate in Arts degree upon graduation from high school.

In high school I was a C/D average student. A few Bs made an appearance from time to time but not consistently, and it wasn’t from a lack of trying. My friends were A+ students, always making the honor roll, and they didn’t have to try. I would stay up till 4 o’clock in the morning, sometimes pulling all-nighters to finish assignments and group projects because of short deadlines and multiple assignments coming due at the same time. My friends’ teachers gave them small assignments and did not thoroughly check them to see if they were finished. Because of pre-conceived expectations, if their teachers saw writing on the papers turned in, they would give my friends an A for assignments because they were “completed.” My friends did not know how to find the slope of a y-intercept, learn the stages of mitosis, or master writing an analysis essay, but I did.

When it came to state testing, the teachers at Delta were committed to making sure we all passed because they wanted to see us walk across the graduation stage in the spring. I studied night and day for these exams, while some of my friends asked their parents to opt them out of the testing. I graduated with a 2.45 grade point average, passed all my state exams, and earned 24 high school credits and 33 college credits. My friends who did not take the tests graduated with a 4.0 average, 22 high school credits, and opted out of all the state exams because they simply did not want to take them. They had the opportunity to apply to any college they wished because of their grade point average, but my GPA did not provide the same opportunity.

They applied to universities and local colleges, and were accepted. The next step was to take their placement tests to determine which courses they would be eligible to take. Unfortunately, they received low test scores that placed them at the beginning of a long road of remedial college courses. How could a 4.0 student not be college ready? When I took my placement tests for Running Start, I placed right at the English 101/102 level and Math 99. I, a 2.45 GPA graduate and a C/D average student, was able to take college courses while still in high school.

Grades should not be the only thing to determine whether a student is college ready, because they are just a letter that some teachers give if the student behaves well.  State exams were not created only to burden students, as some tend to believe. The exams are there to ensure we are ready for the next step in our lives. After doing the required work in high school, I was able to pass all my state exams. I had to take a year off to work to save money for college, and I’m now more than halfway finished with my Bachelor’s degree.

Posted in: Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Higher Education

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: Quiet on the Western Front?

Chris Korsmo

Whenever the house goes quiet, the hair on the back of my neck goes up and my Spidey senses ask: what are they up to? In my case, “they” would be the neighborhood boys who congregate in the basement. In the context of the legislature, it’s, well… the legislature. It might seem like all’s quiet on the western front, but we know better.

Some news to get you caught up:

A few stories for Teacher Appreciation Week:

Other morsels to chew on:

And finally, a couple items we’ve been working on here at LEV:

Until the quiet ends, thanks for all you do on behalf of Washington’s kids. And Happy Cinco de Mayo.

Chris

 

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Posted in: Blog, Funding, Teacher Prep, Weekly Roundup

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: Sunny Skies for Now

Chris Korsmo

You ever play those meeting “icebreaker” games where you have to indicate which tree you’d be, or what animal you were in a past life? If the legislature were a condiment, what would it be? My vote this week is ghost pepper sauce. Discuss.

Money, Money, Money, Money. Money! When last we met we shared the news that the legislature had averted multiple local education funding crises by passing an extension of the levy cliff. This was welcome news for many, even as attention quickly turned to the bigger issue, McCleary. The good news? The economic forecast is sunny. The bad news? Well, for now, there really isn’t any. Yes, the two sides might bicker from time to time and we don’t yet have a final plan to fund, but we will. Our aim is to make sure more of the resources intended for kids who need something more or different – see gaps diatribe below – actually get those resources. Even while we build a compensation system that our education professionals find both fair and energizing.

Next week we’ll get our first look at how the Senate will address education funding when they release their budget. Expect the House version the week after. Here’s how things stack up so far.

Testing Testing: The state’s long love affair with the testing debate will air in all its glory next week when Senate Education takes up HB 1046, the House bill that “delinks” passing the state’s math, English language arts and science exams from high school graduation. Superintendent Reykdal was asked about it recently and spoke in support of removing the requirements. We’ve long taken a different position, that delinking the exams makes it difficult to know whether they’re taken seriously. As the only consistent statewide measures of proficiency, we need good – comparable – data that tells us how our students are doing and importantly, how students fare by groups. We’ve long said we can’t close gaps we can’t see. Between the national moves to reduce federal oversight – or even expectations – and the state wanting to no longer (accurately) capture this information, our kids caught in the opportunity and achievement gaps will be invisible. And, sadly, kids who think they’re college material because they can pass the high school courses that meet the graduation requirements will often find out that they are in fact, NOT ready for prime time. For a state with the kind of student academic performance we have – only 31% of our kids get a degree or certificate from a two- or four-year college – this is a major step backward. Proponents will say that kids are the only ones being held accountable for proficiency – the graduation requirements are high stakes exit exams. It’s true our system is not a bastion of accountability. But eliminating the little bit that we have will only hide the gaps, mislead our kids, and drive our degree completion rates in the wrong direction. (How do I really feel?)

While we’re talking about money, the President’s budget was released this week and it is not a good time to be poor, or a first-generation college student, or a kid in after school programs. The good news here is that a President’s budget is typically just a conversation starter. And, by the looks of it, everybody’s talking.

Light Reading:

  • Sometimes a walk in the woods really pays
  • Speaking of gems, there’s one right in our backyard.
  • More thinking on the causes and impacts of the achievement gap.

As always, thank you for all you do on behalf of our kids. Happy Saint Paddy’s Day!

Chris

 

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Posted in: Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Closing the Gaps, Funding, Legislative session, Weekly Roundup

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: We’ve Made Progress on Education Funding

Chris Korsmo

Well, that didn’t take long.

If you like your politics the same way you like your food – not to touch under any circumstances – then this was your week. Even as we’re going to press, the Senate Democrats are pursuing a floor takeover through parliamentary procedures. The podium grab is possible because the Senate Republicans are down a few men – you may have heard that the Senator Dansel has moved on to the Department of Agriculture and Senator Erickson is advising the EPA (apparently, he won’t be publishing studies on the website, or blogging about the effects of global warming). Dansel has left office, leaving an open seat, while Erickson is holding down two jobs for the time being and racking up frequent flyer miles. Should they prevail and are actually able to take action on the floor, the Senate Dems are looking to pass the levy cliff extension bill – a measure that passed the House earlier this week. The bill was also put on the Senate Ways and Means calendar for this coming Monday – a show of good faith or a pre-emptive maneuver to blunt the necessity of the take over? Oh, cynics. Stop it. (Little known fact about how I think about the word pre-emptive: think Carrie Underwood)

Meanwhile, progress is being made. Earlier this afternoon, Senate Republicans unveiled their education plan. The proposal could be heard early next week and includes a change to the way we allocate funds – from a focus on salaries and staffing to a student-centered approach – and doubles the resources into Career and Technical Education, among other things. There’s much to appreciate in this plan, which includes a bump in pay for starting teachers. You can find a side-by-side of the Senate proposal with Governor Inslee’s on our website here.  Which, by the way is where you can find our bill tracker.

Theme of the week: there are quite a few bills that either change, eliminate or de-link our assessment requirements for high school graduation. Coupled with moves to reduce the high school graduation requirements, it raises concerns that we’re watering down our preparation and expectation of our kids at exactly the wrong time.

In other news:

Have a wonderful weekend. And happy Lunar New Year. Thanks for all you do for Washington’s kids.

Chris

Posted in: Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Career Technical Education, Funding, Legislative session, Side-by-Side Comparisons, 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 www.k12.wa.us/essa.

 

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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