2018 Legislative Priority: Career Connected Learning

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

Career Connected Learning - League of Education VotersMake sure all students have access to supports & opportunities as they explore their career options and determine the academic pathway that helps them achieve their goals.


Career connected learning provides the guidance and opportunities for elementary through high school aged students as they explore career options and the academic pathways to pursue their career interests inside and outside of the classroom. To better serve students our schools can be better supported to utilize and support the High School & Beyond Plan, Career & Technical Education (CTE), dual credit, student learning plans, transition planning for special education students, counseling and other elements of a robust career connected learning system.


School counseling includes academic, guidance, career, and mental health services. School counseling has been shown to help reduce discipline rates to improve academic outcomes. (1) Our current funding model gives discretion to districts in spending state funds to meet local needs. (2) In 2016-2017, the prototypical school funding model provided funding for districts to hire 2,137 counselors to serve 1,080,000 students for a statewide student to counselor ratio of 505:1 students. (3)

Currently the state provides enough funds to districts via the prototypical school funding model to hire counselors at:

Elementary: 811 students per counselor
Middle: 355 students per counselor
High: 236 students per counselor

Career and Technical Education (CTE) provides 21st century academic and technical skills to students as they pursue their career interests. CTE funding has historically been funded by Washington state, but funds were not required to be spent on CTE programing. In 2017, the legislature made a series of changes to CTE to increase funding and ensure CTE funds would be spent on CTE programs.


Lower student-to-counselor ratios lead to lower discipline rates, increased attendance, and improved academic achievement. (4) The American School Counselor Association recommends a ratio of 250 students per counselor has become the goal of many states and districts across the country. But research does not suggest that student benefits decrease at lower ratios. (5) Postsecondary enrollment thrives due to robust school counseling, particularly for students of color, low-income students, and first generation students as counselors offer academic and non-academic supports and guide students through the college and financial aid application process.6

CTE/Dual credit:

CTE and dual credit opportunities, while under researched in Washington, are important components in a robust guiding and advising system – but must be implemented using research-based best practices. (7,8,9)


Legislative priority:

  • Assessing the issues in access to programs that provide career connected learning opportunities, including dual credit, Career and Technical Education, and work-based learning.
  • Improving student access to advising and mentoring through investment and guidance on the implementation of the High School and Beyond Plan, student learning plan, and transition planning for special education students.

System change: We can construct a comprehensive system to support and K-12 enable students to pursue their career and college goals. To do so, we need a deeper understanding of what research-based best practice will meet the diverse needs of the 295 school districts across our state.

The work we do to support counseling and CTE programs must also purposefully contend with how historically under-served students have been systematically steered to a restricted subset of career opportunities, and discouraged from other pathways. Moving forward we must ensure that our approach to career connected learning closes the opportunity gaps for historically marginalized communities.

1. California Department of Education, Re- search on School Counseling Effectiveness, Dec. 2017

2. Washington State House Bill 2776, 2010.

3. Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, School District Personnel Summary Profiles, Table 21, 2016-17

4. Carey, J.C., & Martin, I. (2015). A review of the major school counseling policy studies in the United States: 2000-2014. Amherst, MA: Center for School Counseling Outcome Research and Evaluation.

5. The College Board National Office for School Counselor Advocacy, School Counselors: Literature & Landscape, Nov. 2011.

6. Pathways to College Network, Removing Roadblocks to Rigor, Institute for Higher Education Policy, April 2009.

7. Washington State Report Card, OSPI CTE and Dual Credit Reports.

8. Giani, Matthew, et al. “Exploring Variation in the Impact of Dual-Credit Coursework on Postsecondary Outcomes: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis of Texas Students.” The High School Journal, The University of North Carolina Press, 29 May 2014.

9. An, Brian. “The Impact of Dual Enrollment on College Degree Attainment.” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 1 March 2013.


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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: Hitting the Ground Running


Chris Korsmo

Chris Korsmo

It’s so good to be back with you! After a three month sabbatical, I’m renewed and refreshed, ready to hit the ground running.

Sadly it’s hard to know where to begin when so much promise, talent and opportunity came to an end – again – in a school in Florida. Another mass shooting, another school, another day of horror and grief. I have a sixth grader and a spouse who’s an elementary school principal. I know this is my worst fear.  I also know this has to stop. I feel like my head will explode if one more person says we need a national conversation about gun violence. It feels like we have that conversation many times a year – after another incidence of gun violence. Thoughts and prayers? Pray for the courage it takes to do the right thing. And think when you fill out your ballot.

As for what we can do for kids, if we are serious about our kids’ mental, physical and social well-being, there are some school staffing ratios that should look dramatically different. Among other things.


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2018 Legislative Priority: Student Supports

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

Student Supports - League of Education VotersStudents learn most effectively when their school feels safe, inclusive, supportive, and respectful. (1)

Closing opportunity and achievement gaps and improving student outcomes relies on our ability to create positive school climates for every student.


Creating positive school climates and providing student supports can mitigate the impact of trauma (2), mental health needs (3), and other non-academic factors that affect a student’s ability to engage in learning (4). Washington state has embarked upon some critical work to create positive school climates. The Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee (EOGOAC) spearheaded a number of reforms, most recently with the passage of HB 1541 that continued student discipline reform and created the Washington Integrated Student Supports Protocol (5). The state also convened a workgroup to develop benchmarks for Social-Emotional Learning (6) for district use. We can enhance these and other efforts to deliver services to students and enable districts and schools to create welcoming and supportive environments for every student.



Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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Afterschool Is Essential for Millions of Students Nationwide Each Year

By Ruben Balderas
Guest Blogger

Ruben Balderas - League of Education VotersRuben is a senior at Walla Walla High School, and recently secured a job as a Walla Walla Public Schools afterschool tutor. Throughout his afterschool journey, Ruben has acquired a number of real-world skills, and has made many friends and professional contacts along the way.

Afterschool is very important to me for many different reasons. It has taught me many different things, including computer programs, videography and cinematography skills, communicating with other people. My program has also helped me develop different strategies around critical thinking, problem solving, analyzing, planning, brainstorming, time and stress management, and leadership. All of these skills learned in afterschool can also be used in a real-world work environment; for me, that would be something in the field of animation or concept art. In both of these fields, it is essential to be able to work and communicate within a team structure in order to produce the best content for the job.


Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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2018 Legislative Priority: Expanded Learning Opportunities

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

Expanded Learning Opportunities - League of Education VotersLow-income kids get the least exposure to family reading time, weekend day trips, preschool, summer camp, and after-school programming – adding up to a 6,000 hour learning gap by 6th grade.(1)

High-quality expanded learning opportunities, such as after-school and summer programs, correlate with decreased academic gaps, improved behavior and social-emotional skills, fewer school absences, and lower dropout for all student groups. (2) High-quality apprenticeships and internships for high schoolers help students connect their schooling to important workforce skills. (3)

The Washington Legislature made initial investments in the Expanded Learning Opportunities Quality Initiative, which provides professional development, technical assistance, and a quality measurement system to ensure that programs offered to Washington youth are high-quality and effective. An additional $2.25M investment to expand the ELO Quality Initiative can increase the number of programs able to participate by 330— and increase access to high-quality programs for more than 11,000 students across the state.


Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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Education Advocate of the Month: Brenda Yepez

At League of Education Voters, we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state.

We are pleased to announce our Education Advocate of the Month for February: Brenda Yepez. Read about her advocacy for English Language Learners.

Brenda Yepez February 2018 Education Advocate of the Month - League of Education Voters

February Education Advocate of the Month Brenda Yepez

Brenda Yepez is one of the founders of a student group called the Ambassadors of Lakeview Achieving Success (ALAS), which began her advocacy journey. Brenda attended our Tri-Cities Student Legislative Roundtable in December, where students spoke with legislators about their community work, and she testified at the State Board of Education January meeting to ask for additional supports for English Language Learner (ELL) students. In addition to advocating for the Dream Act in Washington D.C., Brenda herself is a DACA student attending the Washington State University Richland campus.

She became involved with League of Education Voters through Ruvine Jiménez, our Tri-Cities community organizer. Brenda recalls, “By the time I met Ruvine, I was a member of the ALAS community group, and I am now in my fifth year with them. I started as a high school student and now I’m in college, so I’m a mentor.” At last month’s State Board of Education meeting, Brenda shared ideas of what she and her peers thought about education, specifically the new 24-credit high school graduation requirement. “Ruvine asked me to talk about my experience and thoughts as a college student, being engaged with ALAS. They’re high schoolers and some are about to graduate,” she says. “I described how I went through high school and what changes I saw.”


Posted in: Activist of the Month

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Local Levies – Frequently Asked Questions

Across Washington state on February 13, communities will vote on local levies to continue funding for enrichment programs and capital projects at district schools in a special election. Here are frequently asked questions about those levies.

1. What is a local levy?

a. A local property tax passed by voters of a school district that generates tax revenue for local school districts. All money generated by school district levies goes directly to the school district to pay for enhancements to the state funded basic education. By voting for a local levy, voters are voting for an additional property tax in their district.

2. How many school districts have a local school levy?

a. 287 of the 295 school districts had a local levy in school year 2016-17

3. What is basic education?

a. Basic education is the educational program that the state is responsible for funding.

i. The state Legislature defines the program of basic education and is required by the constitution to amply fund it. The state defined program of basic education is the minimum that districts are required to provide students—districts may offer additional programming and services with local funds. Currently, the program of basic education includes the number of hours and days of school that districts must offer, academic standards, and specialized instruction for students qualifying for special education, English Language support, and below or above standard academically.

4. What restrictions are placed on the use of levy money? (more…)

Posted in: Funding

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2018 Legislative Priority: K-12 Funding Implementation

By League of Education Voters Policy Team

The passage of House Bill 2242 in 2017 will inject an additional $7 billion in state funding into our K-12 system.

In order to determine whether the new investments are distributed equitably and improve student outcomes, we will need more robust means to track school spending and results. We will also need to examine the new structures and mechanisms put into place to ensure they do not recreate inequities in our funding system.

Opportunity: New mechanisms to track spending are created in both HB 2242 and in the new federal ESSA legislation.


Posted in: Funding

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