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Rethinking Our Education System

Rethinking Basic Education - League of Education VotersIn the 2017 legislative session, Washington state is poised to make historic investments in basic education. But what will those dollars buy? The current program of “basic education” is not robust enough to meet our “paramount duty” and ensure that all students have the knowledge and skills to compete in today’s economy and participate in our state’s democracy. The upcoming investment provides an unprecedented opportunity to rethink our system of education and the resources and tools at our disposal to provide Washington students with the education promised by our Constitution.

What is required of our educational system will continue to change over time. We need to develop a program of basic education that can evolve based on current and future student needs and a funding mechanism that is flexible enough to support that shifting program. Let’s envision a program of basic education that is aspirational and that creates a new path forward for Washington state. The vision should include best practices, teaching and instruction that closes achievement gaps, supports that allow students to be the best learners, a program that doesn’t start with kindergarten and end with high school, but consists of the full education continuum—early learning through postsecondary.

Ample and equitable funding is necessary to build a robust education system that works for all children. However, money is a tool, not a solution. New dollars should be seen as a tool to improve our system for all students. We believe that this can be done by rethinking how we:

  • compensate teachers and staff
  • leverage funding and human resources according to meet student needs
  • recruit, retain, and train teachers
  • provide additional student supports
  • measure the effectiveness of our investments and improve practice

How should we redefine basic education? Well, we don’t have to look far. There are programs and practices across our state that are working but need the proper investments in order to be sustained and spread to other schools and districts. Over the next few months, we’ll share how money can be used as a tool to fix teacher compensation; recruit, retain, and train qualified teachers; and add necessary student supports that yield positive outcomes and close achievement gaps. We’ll also share stories from around the state on how districts, community-based organizations, and citizens are closing gaps and subsidizing “basic education” with local resources. Asking the paramount question: How can money be used to go beyond our current basic education?

#BeyondBasic

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

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McCleary Resources

Olympia - LEV McCleary Information In McCleary v. State of Washington, the Washington state Supreme Court ruled that the State of Washington is violating the constitutional rights of students by failing to amply fund basic education. The Court ordered the Legislature to make “steady, real, and measurable” progress each year to fully fund K-12 public education by 2018.  Below are resources that will help clarify the debate over education funding.

Definition of Basic Education

Glossary of Key Education Terms

Rethinking Our Education System

Presentations on education funding by the LEV Policy Team:

  1. I Can See McClear-ly Now: A look at the education funding debate in Washington, gives you an in-depth look at how we got where we are today.
  2. We Can Work it Out: A long and winding road to funding basic education, covers whether our current education funding structure is fair and whether the system benefits all kids.

LEVinar on The McCleary Task Force: What to Expect Archived Recording | Presentation Slides

McCleary Education Funding Task Force Duties and Responsibilities

Senate Bill 6195, which created the Education Funding Task Force

Our view on NPR Education’s School Money series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Posted in: Blog, Funding, Legislative session

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What Is Basic Education?

Classroom Students

By the LEV Policy Team

In Washington state, it is the state’s “paramount duty” to fund a program of basic education for all students. It is the Legislature’s responsibility to define that program of basic education. The Legislature has established goals for the education system, as well as a program intended to achieve those goals. The program of basic education can be changed and added to. It may only be reduced for educational reasons, not financial reasons. The instructional program of basic education is provided through the K-12 system, as well as in juvenile detention facilities, residential facilities, and adult correctional facilities (RCW 28A.150.200).

The Goals of Basic Education (RCW 28A.150.210)

  1. Read with comprehension, write effectively, and communicate successfully in a variety of ways and settings and with a variety of audiences;
  2. Know and apply the core concepts and principles of mathematics; social, physical, and life sciences; civics and history, including different cultures and participation in representative government; geography; arts; and health and fitness;
  3. Think analytically, logically, and creatively, and to integrate technology literacy and fluency as well as different experiences and knowledge to form reasoned judgments and solve problems; and
  4. Understand the importance of work and finance and how performance, effort, and decisions directly affect future career and educational opportunities.

The Program of Basic Education (RCW 28A.150.220)

The program of basic education is the legislatively defined basic education that the state must fully fund. Districts must use state funding to provide all of the following components to students.

Time:

•   1,000 hours of instruction for full-day Kindergarten (being phased in)

•   1,000 hours of instruction for grades 1-8 (districtwide average)*

•   1,080 hours of instruction for grades 9-12 (districtwide average)*

•   At least 180 school days

*Can be calculated as districtwide average of 1,027 hours grades 1-12

Academics:

•    Instruction in the Essential Academic Learning Requirements (adopted by Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction)

o The Arts

o English Language Arts (Common Core)

o English Language Proficiency

o Early Learning

o Math (Common Core)

o Science

o Social Studies

o Educational Technology

o Health and Physical Education

o Integrated Environment and Sustainability

o World Languages

•    The opportunity to complete 24 credits for a high school diploma

Supports:

•   Learning Assistance Program—supplemental instruction for “underachieving” students

•   Transitional Bilingual Instructional Program—supplemental instruction for English Language Learners

•   Special Education—appropriate education and supports for students with disabilities

•   Highly Capable Program—programs for highly capable students

•   Transportation (RCW 28A.150.200)

Components provided in the prototypical school funding formula (RCW 28A.150.260), such as Materials, Supplies, and Operating Costs (MSOC) or specific staffing ratio­­s do not constitute the program of basic education. They represent the Legislature’s assumptions of what resources are required to provide the program of basic education, but districts may choose to deliver the program in a different way.

Basic Education Compliance

Each district must certify to the State Board of Education that it is providing students with the minimum requirements of the basic education act. Districts must report that they provide:

  • K-12 students with 180 days of instruction
  • Kindergarten students with either 450 or 1,000 instructional hours, depending on full-day Kindergarten phase-in
  • Grades 1-8 students with a districtwide average of 1,000 instructional hours and grades 9-12 students with a districtwide average of 1,080 instructional hours, OR a districtwide average of 1,027 hours across grades 1-12
  • The opportunity to complete a 24-credit high school diploma

Instructional Hours: the definition of instructional hour is time in the school day from the beginning of the first period class to the end of the last period class, except for time spent on meals. Passing time and recess are counted as instructional time.

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Posted in: Blog, Funding, Money Matters

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