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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: It’s Halftime

Chris Korsmo

Well Folks,

If the legislative session were the Super Bowl, Lady Gaga would be pretending to drop through a hole in the Capitol roof – it’s halftime! Sort of. Whatever time it is, you can always catch up on the action with our bill tracker. You might also check out our podcast series, including the newest one with Senator Hans Zeiger, Chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. Let’s take a look at how things are going.

Progress: That wind storm that rocked the western half of Washington may have been caused by the collective exhale of school district officials upon the news that the legislature passed an extension of the so-called Levy Cliff. With expanded levy capacity set to expire at the end of the year and levies to drop, districts were scrambling to figure out how to avoid sending out pink slips to staff. Now the legislature can settle in to resolve the rest of the K-12 funding situation – including a reprisal of sorts of the McCleary task force, an 8-member group tasked with drawing up a final plan. While much of the discussion so far has focused on the State’s obligation under the McCleary ruling, there’s been good movement in thinking about how to get more resources to kids who need more – how to ensure that money allocated to close gaps and accelerate results for struggling students. We aren’t the only state trying to unleash the potential that this moment holds. However we go about it, we’d like to see more of this.  And this.

Regress: Even as the Legislature buckles down on the funding issues, we can feel the slow shifting of the ground – ground we thought we’d already covered – underneath us. Bills to reduce graduation requirements and undo the State Board of Education continue to be debated. In case you missed it, the Washington Round Table issued a report showing both the heightened expectations for our workforce of tomorrow and the underwhelming way in which we prepare our kids for those opportunities. Backward is how you get out of a driveway. Not how progress is made.

Recess:

  • Turns out parents really can be influential.
  • That hour of sleep you’re about to lose this weekend? It’s not good for you.
  • Principals, the oft ignored solution…
  • Purple goes the way of analog. Legislative and Congressional districts aren’t the only places where politics are undivided.
  • There’s an algorithm for that.

That’s all for now, kids! I’ve got to get my hands mani on before the PTA auction tonight. Can’t raise a paddle with claws like this, now can we? As always, thank you for all you do on behalf of our kids! And keep it up! Halfway isn’t all the way, but it’s a good start.

Chris

 

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Posted in: Closing the Gaps, Funding, Legislative session, Podcast, 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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State Board of Education must become a leading voice for all students

The Washington State Board of Education today fell short of setting a clear path for our state toward all students graduating high school prepared for their next step in life.

The State Board of Education’s leadership has been essential in trying to realize their own vision of “a high quality education system that prepares all students for college, career, and life.” Nine years ago, they recommended that the state update high school graduation requirements to 24 credits, and they saw that recommendation to fruition in 2014 despite opposition and numerous obstacles along the way.

Unfortunately, the State Board made no progress today toward moving the system forward in preparing all students for college, career, and life. They took an “equal impact” approach on setting the English Language Arts (ELA) cut score. Due to poor-quality data, the State Board was unable to take an “equal impact” approach in setting the score for Math, so they set a correlating score based on the ELA cut score. This approach maintains the status quo without setting any specific date by which the cut score would be set at a college and career ready level or a plan to get there.

The League of Education Voters acknowledges the complexity of setting graduation cut scores. We also believe that decisions based on maintaining an “equal impact” without any date or plan to get to the goal of college and career readiness for all students is not good enough for our students, nor is it leading with a sense of urgency for the approximately 50 percent of high school graduates who enter postsecondary in remedial courses.

A transition period is understandable. A transition period with no end date or specific plan does not serve our students’ best interests, nor does it display any urgency for closing our state’s growing achievement and opportunity gaps.

Earlier this summer, we called on the State Board again to hold our system to a higher standard. We asked that they set the graduation cut score at the level of college and career readiness—level 3—in order to bring our state closer to their vision, or at least set a date for when this goal might be achieved. They started to do so in a draft position statement but postponed that action and any related discussion until the September meeting.

We look to the State Board to once again to become a leading voice for all students, and the League of Education Voters is committed to working with them and others going forward to ensure that the State Board achieves its vision of preparing all students for college, career, and life.

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

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This changes everything.

Emma Margraf spoke at today’s State Board of Education meeting and submitted testimony similar to the blog post below.

By Emma Margraf

Last week Jane came in the house with a big envelope in her hand saying, “Mooooommmm….” in a hesitant voice. The envelope was from the college she wants to attend.

I told her that it might just be a mailing, because her application hadn’t been complete for very long. They have a rolling admissions process, so we didn’t know. I watched her open it and read the first few lines of the letter that came in the envelope and then handed it to me looking like she didn’t understand what was happening.

I read the first few lines—they started with, “Congratulations! It is my pleasure to offer you admission…”—and when she saw my face, Jane started jumping up and down.

Six years ago, every school official in Jane’s life would have said this was impossible, and we’ve been told not to hope for it ever since. (more…)

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

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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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Making the sky the limit

Making the sky the limit. (View from Spokane.)Rogers High School in northeast Spokane had a graduation rate of 50 percent in 2010. This year, the graduate rate was 85 percent, an increase of 35 percent in four years.

What changed between 2010 and 2014? Not the student body. Seventy-five percent of students at the high school are eligible for free and reduced lunch (FRL). What DID change is how students prepare for high school and life after high school.

Rogers High School is in its sixth year of a Navigation 101 grant from College Spark Washington, and they have also implemented the AVID program in their school. Both Navigation 101 and AVID are programs designed to prepare students for college or career.

One aspect of both of those programs is the High School and Beyond Plan, used to help students chart a path through high school to achieve their post-high school career goals. The High School and Beyond Plan is also one part of the newly updated high school diploma for Washington, which was passed during the 2014 legislative session. The League of Education Voters is working with communities across the state to ensure that the implementation of the new diploma is as effective as possible.

So how did Rogers High School implement the High School and Beyond Plan successfully? (more…)

Posted in: 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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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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Washington students increase SAT participation, scores

Standardized test scantron formMore Washington students are taking the SAT than ever before, and they are also scoring well. The Washington state average score is 52 points higher than the national average of 1474, and they rank 3rd in the nation in math, reported the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) last Thursday.

In 2012, the number of students participating in the SAT rose by 4.6 percent, compared with an 0.8 percent national increase. Overall participation across the state is at 55 percent, making Washington 3rd in the nation for participation, behind Texas (56 percent) and Utah (100 percent).

In addition, participation from students of color increased by a larger margin than the rest of the country. Participation by Hispanic students increased by almost 15 percent, more than double the national increase. Participation by black students increased by nearly 9 percent, compared to an almost 2 percent national decrease. American Indian student participation increased by nearly 7 percent, compared to an increase of 4.6 percent nationally. Participation by Asian students increased by 2.7 percent, compared with a 1.7 percent national increase.

The SAT exam has been approved by Washington’s legislature as an alternative to Washington’s state exams in math, reading, and writing. Students who either do not pass the Washington state exams or who transfer into Washington schools from another state can apply to use their SAT scores instead of their state exam results.

The press release about the increase in SAT participation is available on OSPI’s website.

Posted in: Blog

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