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1 Education Reform in Washington State: Step-By-Step Education reform in Washington state has taken significant steps forward the past two decades. Starting with the landmark education reform act of 1993 to the adoption of public charter schools in 2012 to the College & Career Ready Diploma in 2014, the reform actions taken by the state are moving our education system in a positive direction. And, since 1994, Partnership for Learning is proud to have had the opportunity to partner with state education leaders, lawmakers and advocates on many of these significant timeline moments college & CAREER READY DIPLOMA AUTHORIZED In March 2014, the Washington state Legislature resoundingly approved Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 6552, which authorizes the College and Career Ready Diploma. The 24-credit diploma, a longtime policy priority of the State Board of Education, Washington Roundtable, Partnership for Learning and Excellent Schools Now coalition, more closely aligns Washington state s graduation requirements with college-entrance requirements. SB 6552 authorizes the diploma requirements for students in the class of It also addresses instructional hours, calls for the development of career and technical course equivalencies and reallocates $97 million in the state education budget for science labs, high school counselors, and materials, supplies and operating costs to assist school districts in implementing the new diploma. 1

2 2013 REAL LEARNING FOR REAL LIFE Next Generation Science Standards Adopted Washington becomes the 8th state to adopt new Next Generation Science Standards. A similar initiative to the Common Core State Standards, the Next Generation Science Standards outline the key scientific concepts that students should master as well as the important practices that scientists and engineers use to solve problems. Washington was a lead state in the development of the new learning standards. School Intervention Authorized Lawmakers adopt legislation (SB 5329) that will authorize OSPI to intervene in the state s lowest-performing schools. The State Board of Education is charged with creating an accountability framework and OSPI must have a system of support and intervention in place for the school year. Following years of advocacy by PFL and other education reform supporters, the focus on accountability is a significant advancement. To help build public awareness and support of the Common Core State Standards, PFL forms and leads with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction the Ready Washington Coalition. The effort focuses on communicating with parents, educators and the general public how the new common core state standards will help prepare students for college and careers, while allowing individualized learning opportunities. Charter School Implementation As Washington State prepares to authorize its initial charter schools, PFL teams with College Spark and the Model Schools Project to publish Expanding Our Expectations, a research paper on how college- and career-readiness expectations are leading to different learning environments. PFL is also instrumental in helping create the Washington State Charter Schools Association, a new non-profit to provide best practices and other technical support to those looking to create new charter schools. View the PDF 2

3 2012 mccleary v state The State Supreme Court, in ruling on McCleary v State, declares the state of Washington is failing to live up to its constitutional duty of amply funding basic K-12 public education. The unanimous landmark ruling by the highest court orders the state Legislature to make steady, real and measurable progress annually toward the goal of fully funding K-12 education by Charter Schools Authorized Washington becomes the 41st state to allow public charter schools as voters pass Initiative 1240 in November The law allows the creation of 40 charter schools during a five-year period. PFL helps incubate the non-profit Washington State Charter School Association. jobs Skills Gap Analyzed PFL partners with the Washington Roundtable and Boston Consulting Group to analyze the skills gap in Washington State. The resulting study estimates that there are 25,000 jobs that are persistently unfilled in the state due to a lack of candidates with the requisite skills, and the study projects that number will grow to 50,000 over the coming five years if nothing is done. But what really gets lawmakers attention are the benefits of closing the gap: approximately 160,000 new jobs, View the PDF a drop in the state unemployment rate of up to 2 percent, and nearly $800 million in new state and local tax revenues each year Washington STEM Launched new Graduation Requirements PFL and its volunteer leaders help launch a new non-profit organization to increase student interest and achievement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Washington STEM is organized to advocate for stronger STEM education programs and to provide private-sector funding for more timely deployment of effective instructional practices. The State Board of Education adopts a 20-credit requirement, beginning with the class of The approach is designed to increase rigor, while retaining flexibility for districts, schools and students to tailor the requirements to their individual needs. 3

4 2010 Common Core State Standards Adopted The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers jointly develop a series of proposed Common Core State Educational Standards for English Language Arts and math. These standards will provide valuable consistency and rigor from state to state. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn provisionally adopts the standards in 2010, with their final adoption coming in PFL continues to work with its coalition partners and other education stakeholders to promote thoughtful implementation of these standards and a smooth transition to their related assessments. State Graduation Assessment Requirements Changed End-of-course exams in math (Algebra, Geometry or Integrated Math) and science (Biology) are authorized to replace comprehensive assessments in those subjects for graduation purposes. As before, students who do not receive a passing score on the assessments have the option to pursue alternative routes to demonstrate proficiency. 24-Credit Career and College Readiness Framework Adopted After extensive analysis and stakeholder engagement, the State Board of Education adopts a framework for Career- and College-Ready Graduation Requirements, including a 24-credit requirement. The board does not implement the entire framework due to concerns of its impact on state and district budgets. Teacher Evaluation System Enacted Lawmakers enact legislation (SB 6696) creating a fourtiered principal and teacher evaluation system that will provide more meaningful feedback on educator performance. The law allows student performance data to be used as a factor in evaluations. Related legislation (SB 5895) directs that the evaluations be used as one element in professional development, staffing and other human resource decisions in the schools. After completion of several pilot programs, the evaluation system is implemented statewide. Excellent Schools Now After failing to earn any of the federal Department of Education s $4.35 billion Race to the Top grant funds, Partnership for Learning teams with other education advocacy groups to create a statewide coalition to accelerate career and college readiness for all students, especially for low-income students and students of color. More than 40 organizations sign on to promote an ambitious, six-year A+ Washington: A Way Forward for All Students strategic plan. The plan s five strategies are to: (1) Expand access to high-quality pre-kindergarten to 3rd-grade education; (2) Ensure access to excellent teachers and leaders; (3) Position students for career and college readiness; (4) Implement flexible and transformative approaches to K-12 education; and (5) Develop effective data and accountability systems. 4

5 2009 WASL Replaced Newly elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn announces plans to replace the Washington Assessment of Student Learning with redesigned assessments, the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) and the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE). Dorn also announces plans to migrate state testing to online assessments Improving Science Education Improving the Odds In conjunction with the College & Work Ready Agenda Coalition, PFL publishes Improving the Odds: Preparing Washington Students for Family-Wage Jobs. The report systematically refutes the notion that a high school diploma is sufficient to ensure a family-wage job or career opportunity. Instead, it demonstrates that some form of higher education at a two- or four-year college, a technical school or a certificate program is increasingly necessary to prepare students for career opportunities. The study is updated in 2011, incorporating the results of the Great Recession on the workforce market. With support from Battelle / Pacific Northwest National Lab, PFL works with classroom teachers, curriculum specialists and science advocacy groups to analyze the state of science education in Washington and makes a series of recommendations for improvement. Some of the recommendations include recruiting more highly qualified science teachers, dedicating more classroom time to science education, building on existing highquality science education partnerships, and advocating for science education with legislators and other policymakers. Funding from Batelle also provides for the expansion of Washington s Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform, or LASER. 5

6 2006 What Is a High School Diploma? The legislature directs the State Board of Education to review the purpose and expectations of high school graduation. PFL and other organizations encourage the board to define the diploma in terms of college and career readiness A+ Commission Disbands, State Board Enhanced In an effort to streamline Washington s educational governance system, the legislature disbands the A+ Commission and assigns its assessment and system accountability responsibilities to a newly reconstituted State Board of Education. The new board has gubernatorial appointees and is led by Seattle s Mary Jean Ryan. In the coming years, PFL board member Jeff Vincent will take over chairmanship of the board Charter Schools Authorized, Then Rejected Recognizing the potential of charter schools to bring innovative and effective educational models to Washington students, state legislators authorize their creation by passing ESSHB But charter school opponents file Referendum 55 to overturn the legislature s action. Despite strong support from business and community leaders, including the endorsement of civil rights leader Rosa Parks, charter schools are defeated at the polls, 58 percent to 42 percent. 6

7 2002 NCLB Implementation Washington s OSPI submits the state s NCLB compliance plan to the federal Department of Education. Rather than maintain two separate and distinct accountability systems, the A+ Commission aligns Washington s system to the federal requirements Campaign for Class of 2008 No Child Left Behind In reauthorizing the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Congress adopts a series of school improvement goals and metrics known as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Schools are expected to make progress toward a statewide uniform bar of student performance over a nine-year period and are to be evaluated based on whether they are making adequate yearly progress toward that goal. Additional goals are established for all significant socio-economic subgroups of students in the school, as well as for on-time graduation rates, drop-out reduction, and teacher quality. The legislature declares that the Class of 2008 will be the first whose students are required to pass the Reading and Math WASLs to be eligible for high school graduation. Recognizing the need to support educators in helping students and their families understand this new requirement, PFL teams with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) on an aggressive, statewide communications campaign. Lawmakers later adjust the graduation requirements to provide additional alternative means for students to demonstrate proficiency in these subjects. 7

8 1999 Washington School Improvement Goals A+ Commission Created With the state assessment created and in place, legislators created a new Academic Achievement and Accountability (A+) Commission responsible for setting passing scores on the WASL, establishing improvement goals for schools and districts, and developing a system of state rewards, support and intervention in local schools based on the performance of their students. Seattle banker Patrick Patrick is named the first chair of the A+ Commission. After extensive study and analysis, the A+ Commission establishes a series of improvement goals for Washington schools. The system is based on current student achievement levels, with schools expected to reduce the percentage of their students not reaching proficient scores on the assessments by 25 percent over a three-year period Partnership for Learning Launched Recognizing that statewide efforts to raise expectations for all students would require a much higher level of community support and engagement, business and community leaders come together to launch Partnership for Learning (PFL). Boeing CEO Frank Shrontz and Lt. Governor Joel Pritchard are named the organization s chair and president. PFL immediately begins a comprehensive program to help build public awareness and understanding of the need for higher educational standards and greater student achievement in order to ensure the success of Washington s young people in the workplace and society of the future. 8

9 1993 School Reform Legislation Passed Legislation (HB 1209) modifies SSB 5953 and incorporates the GCERF recommendations, calling for a comprehensive, statewide student assessment system. The Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) is to be criterion-referenced, comparing students to an established standard rather than against the performance of their peers. Subjects to be tested periodically throughout students K-12 careers include Reading, Writing, Listening, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts, and Health and Fitness, with tests phased in over time. Not all will be high school graduation requirements, but they are intended to help measure school performance. Many of the initially planned assessments are delayed or dropped altogether Commission on Student Learning Legislation (SSB 5953) creates the Commission on Student Learning (CSL) to identify Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs), develop strategies to assist educators in helping students master these learning objectives, develop a statewide student assessment system to measure student and school performance, establish a certificate of mastery that would demonstrate that high school graduates were proficient in these basic subjects, and recommend the time and support that schools and districts would need. Future State Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson is hired to be the CSL staff director. 9

10 1991 GCERF Recommendations When the legislature failed to adopt statewide education reform legislation, Governor Booth Gardner Shrontz Speech Boeing Chairman and CEO Frank Shrontz stunned regional leaders by publicly suggesting the company might be forced to look elsewhere for locations to produce its next-generation products. Shrontz cites a national study finding that 60 percent of Americans in their 20s lack reading and writing skills to be productive, while 90 percent lack required math skills. Our economic competitiveness for the future depends on a workforce sufficiently well-grounded in... reading, writing and arithmetic to handle the requirements of new processes being implemented, he said. created the Governor s Commission on Education Reform and Funding (GCERF) by executive order. The GCERF was charged with developing a long-term plan to significantly improve student performance. The next year its final report would include recommendations for more funding for standards and assessments, additional teacher professional development time, a mentor teacher program, establishment of a new account to provide rewards and assistance based on school performance, and the revision of the school funding formula by the academic year. Most GCERF recommendations were not fully implemented by the legislature. Partnership for Learning, the education foundation of the Washington Roundtable, is a statewide nonprofit organization that communicates the need for all Washington students to graduate from high school better prepared for college, work and life. As a trusted source of information, Partnership for Learning makes complex education issues accessible. To learn more, visit partnership4learning.org 10

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