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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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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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Activist of the Month: Maria Estrada

Maria Estrada testifies in Olympia on the new discipline law in April 2014.

Maria Estrada testifies in Olympia on the new discipline law in April 2014.

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 Activist of the Month for September: Maria Estrada. Read more about her experience as an advocate for all kids, including her daughter, Paulina Zepeda (our March 2014 Activist of the Month).

Maria Estrada believes in parent engagement. She believes in it so strongly that she’s worked with Donald Bender, Migrant Academic Service Coordinator for ESD 105, to write a series of curricula on parent engagement. But it’s one thing to write curricula and another entirely to take action on it. Maria testified at the public hearing at the State Board of Education meeting in Spokane in July on that very topic.

Maria says that parent engagement is key to student success. “When parents are engaged, they can help their children make decisions about their future and successfully achieve their dreams. Parents should trust their children and love them, of course, but they also need to stay engaged. In doing that, they not only help their own children, they help all children.” (more…)

Posted in: Activist of the Month, Advocacy and Activism, Closing the Gaps, LEV News

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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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Activist of the Month: Ashley Guerra

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 Activist of the Month for July: Ashley Guerra. Read more about her experience leveraging technology to improve parental involvement in education.

The Guerra family at the June 6 State Board of Education forum. From left: From left to right, Ashley, her younger brother Julito, her mom Yelenys, and her dad Julio.

The Guerra family at the June 6 State Board of Education forum. From left: From left to right, Ashley, her younger brother Julito, her mom Yelenys, and her dad Julio.

Ashley Guerra just finished her first year of high school, so it might surprise you to hear that we chose her as our Activist of the Month for July. But it won’t surprise you for very long.

Ashley recently testified at the State Board of Education’s forum on the updated high school diploma for Washington. Her focus was parent engagement.

Her goal to increase parent engagement began as a school project at Kent-Meridian High School, which has the lowest graduation rate in Kent. Ashley and her peers decided to try to find a way to improve Kent-Meridian’s graduation rate.

After researching strategies that have been shown to improve the graduation rate, Ashley and her project group members decided to focus on parent engagement. (more…)

Posted in: Activist of the Month, Advocacy and Activism, Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, LEV News

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Making the College and Career Ready Diploma a Reality

By Kelly Munn, State Field Director

A meaningful high school diploma. (Image of graduating students.)The College and Career Ready Diploma became law with the passage of SB 6552 this past legislative session. That was a huge win, and it took many of you to make it happen.

Thank you. Thank you for the emails, the calls, the testimonies, for the late nights you spent working to get the College and Career Ready Diploma passed.

Now we need your help to make sure the diploma works the way it’s supposed to. (more…)

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

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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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LIVE BLOG: SBE

3:15pm-5pm

Consideration of Future Work Based on State Budget and Federal Fiscal Stimulus Package and Retreat Planning

>>Board members reflected on positives from the past year. Things mentioned include better run board meetings, collaborating with stakeholders, and enacting good policy. Big shout outs to LEV’s organizing students to testify in support of CORE 24 [whoop whoop].<<

Things to Remember about the Federal Stimulus Package — Jeff Vincent

-Four assurances of State Fiscal Stabilization Fund are very important

-There are different pots of money

>>Discussion about various foundations and private dollar possibilities. Members expressed disappointment over Washington’s rank in various reports. Then much discussion about the Gates Foundation. Followed by discussion of the Core Standards work.<<

Small group discussions about the SBE strategic plan

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LIVE BLOG: SBE

1pm-1:50pm

Accountability Index, continued — Dr. Pete Bylsma

English Language Learners Recommendations

-Exclude results of ELLs in their first 3 years of public school enrollment, or until achieving Level 3 on WLPT

-Use performance on WLPT to provide feedback about wheter ELLs are on track to meeting standard

-Report detailed WLPT results on OSPI Report Card

Alternative Schools Recommendations

-Compare index as usual and use normal rules to determine AYP

-If alternative school does not make AYP in 2 consecutive years or “in improvement,” look at more complete set of data

Proposed Recognition System

-Use same accountability matrix, receive recognition when meeting specific benchmarks

-Applies to both schools and districts

-Two forms of recognition

1. Outstanding overall performance

*Recognition in 8 areas for very high levels of performance

*Must meet rigorous minimum conditions to ensure only truly outstanding performance is recognized

2. Noteworthy performance

*Recognition in each of the 20 cells when the 2-year average is at least 5.5 and when the index averages at least 5.0

*Less stringent minimum conditions

>>There was some concern over language used to describe/refer to alternative schools. Members were reminded of the diversity among alternative schools and the students they serve. Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn appreciated the work of the SPA group and the creation of the Accountability Index, but felt that recognition should also be at the discretion of the superintendent’s office. Dr. Mayer said the group felt the systems (superintendent’s awards and Accountability Index recognition) could easily coexist.<<

1:50pm-2:45pm

Update on OSPI Math Plans and Proposed Changes to Math Rule for High School Students — Dr. Alan Burke, Dr. Kathe Taylor

OSPI Math Plans

-Superintendent’s recommendations for K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 instructional materials have all been issued

-Work continues on collecting and making available supplemental material supports for districts

-Core academic standards (CCSSO, NGA, College Board, ACT, and Achieve) movement may have an effect on current math standards [Washington is working with this group]

-Grade 3-8 Mathematics Measurements of Student Progress

*Begin online testing in 2010

*SBE sets cut scores in July/August 2010

-High School Mathematics High School Proficiency Exam

*Shorter, single-session tests in 2010

*Begin end-of-course tests in 2011

-Two “base” tests: Algebra I/Integrated I and Geometry/Integrated II

-Base tests augmented with course specific topics

-SBE sets cut scores in July/August 2011

*Re-take “common core” exam to graduate high school (for students taking math EOCs before high school)

>>Lot of discussion around national standards. OSPI seems to like the idea (and potential cost savings). Concerns and pushback from some board members. Questions raised about the fate of the publishing and testing companies.<<

Changes to Math Rule

-Students who takes high school courses before high school may choose to not have the course recorded on their transcript

-What to do with students who take Algebra or Geometry before 9th grade and don’t record course?

-Rule Revision Recommendation 1: students move on to receive at least 2 credits in a progressive sequence

-Rule Revision Recommendation 2: after students earn credit in Algebra II, they can choose math courses that meet their education and career goals (staff recommendation)

>>General board consensus is around Rule Revision Recommendation 2.<<

2:45pm-2:55pm

Public Comment

Julie Wright, Where’s the Math? — Concerns with certain math curricula; would like more parent participation in curriculum decisions

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LIVE BLOG: SBE

11:30am-11:50am

Recommendations from System Performance Accountability Work on Accountability Index and Recognition System — Dr. Kris Mayer, Edie Harding, Dr. Pete Bylsma

Overview

Update

*Now have 6 tiers in the Accountability Index: exemplary, very good, good, acceptable, struggling and priority

>>Some discussion over the tier labels. Chair Mary Jean Ryan thinks the “acceptable” tier isn’t acceptable and would like another name for the tier. Sheila Fox suggested “fair.” Members seemed to agree with that. Jeff Vincent suggested the SBE conduct some focus groups to find labels that make sense to stakeholders. Dr. Mayer shared that the SPA group has done some focus group work but didn’t ask if the labels matched the point range.<<

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