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July 7, 2017 Policy Brief

“As Governor Inslee signed the historic education budget package yesterday, it was deeply humbling to stand with public school students from across Washington who will now benefit from funding that puts kids first. At Stand for Children, we are proud to have worked alongside so many committed policymakers, elected leaders and advocates who have tirelessly worked to create a more effective and equitable education for every student in Washington. Our goal throughout this effort has been to put the needs of individual students first so that we can decrease real and perceived barriers to success that all too often have resulted in disproportionate outcomes and achievement gaps in our state’s schools. We look forward to the work ahead as Washington implements the policies adopted in this plan and advance additional proven education reforms to help every student succeed.”

– Libuse Binder, executive director, Stand for Children Washington


Policy Round Up

The following are key education policies adopted this year in Olympia and supported by Stand for Children’s analysis and advocacy:

  • Ending “staff mix”  – a state formula to allocate school funding based on the experience level of a school’s teachers. The staff mix factor created inequity between districts in funding levels by sending more money to districts with higher average teacher salaries—mostly districts with more affluent communities.
  • Removing Salary Allocation Model – related to “staff mix,” a funding mechanism that was used to determine how much districts should get for teachers based only on a teacher’s educational level and experience instead of more student-centered metrics like performance, certification and additional job responsibilities. Most states do not have a Salary Allocation Model. In the current proposal, OSPI will develop a model schedule which districts can use in local bargaining if desired.
  • Categorical College and Technical Training – funding that used to go to a school’s general budget will now be required to be spent on vocational programing.
  • Creation of a High-Poverty Concentration Funding Stream the state will now provide additional funding to schools with student populations with more than 50% of students on Free and Reduced Price Lunch. The money will go through the Learning Assistance Program and must be sent to the school generating the dollars and spent on supports for students who are below grade level. The state previously allocated money for schools with high-poverty concentrations, but the funding went into the general budget.
  • Dual Credit – this important new law, signed by Governor Inslee on May 4, requires the adoption of a uniform policy for credit awarded to students who complete and pass Advanced Placement (AP) courses in Washington. There is currently not a uniform credit policy between universities and colleges in Washington. This new law will also help ensure that the significant number of low income, Hispanic, and African American students scoring a 3 on an AP Exam are not further disadvantaged when they matriculate to college by losing out on college credit and the tuition affordability the credit provides.
  • Expanding Dual Language Learning – this new policy will grow capacity for high quality dual language learning in K-12. Washington has seen a 689 percent increase in the number of students served by the state’s bilingual program instruction program from 1986 to 2016. 118,526 students are currently served by the state’s bilingual program.
  • Improved Standards for Paraeducators – this new policy will improve certification requirements and standards for Washington State’s paraeducators.


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What We’re Reading

Crunching the numbers over Washington state’s complicated property taxes to fund schooling – Seattle Times

“The owners of a single-family Seattle home with a median assessed value could pay $460 more in property taxes next year under legislation approved last week to beef up state funding of public schools, according to one state analysis.But a handful of Seattle lawmakers say that number includes some tax money that’s already being paid, and they insist the increase is lower, more like about $240 for that home.”

NEA to DeVos: Address Our Concerns or Resign – Education Week

“The nation's largest teachers union demanded July 4 that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos either address its concerns or resign. The nearly 3 million-member union wants answers to the questions posed by NEA President Lily Eskelsen García to DeVos in a February letter—including whether the education secretary will hold all schools receiving public funds to the same accountability and transparency standards and whether she will push to privatize special education or Title I dollars for needy students.”

Too Few ELL Students Land in Gifted Classes – Education Week

“Linnea Van Eman, the gifted education coordinator for the Tulsa school district, sees too many gifted students who simply don't have the language skills to show what they can do. The 36,000-student Oklahoma district has been pushing hard to bring more students from traditionally underrepresented groups—and English-language learners in particular—into its gifted program. Using a combination of more-diverse testing, greater parent outreach, and closer observation, Van Eman and her teachers are working to fill equity gaps in the district's advanced programs.”

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