June 16, 2017 Policy Brief

Key Dates

As the Legislature enters the finals days of their 2nd Special Session and continue negotiating a budget deal, all eyes are once again on the upcoming June 20 Revenue Forecast.

The final day of the 2nd Special Session is June 21st.

June 30: Budget or Continuing Resolution for 2017-2019 must be adopted

July 7: Initiative Filing Deadline


Policy Round Up

  • A “hot” debate with Olympia insiders heated up this week around whether passing state tests should be required for high school graduation, with some proposing to “delink” specific assessment requirements from earning a diploma.
  • At the request of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Senators Rolfes and Rivers introduced SB 5951 that would place a moratorium on the assessment requirements until 2019 and would eliminate the biology assessment requirement altogether. It was heard in the Senate Education Committee on Monday June 12th. The House Education Committee will hear its companion, HB 2224, on Monday the 19th. 
  • Also on June 12th, the Senate Education and Early Learning Committee, amended and passed HB 1046. While the original would have eliminated state tests as graduation requirements altogether, the amended version delays requiring the passing of the biology assessment until 2021 but keeps Math and English requirements in place.
  • All 3 bills would move the English and Math test to 10th grade, change the alternatives allowed for meeting the assessment requirements, and alter requirements for the High School and Beyond Plan.

Key Numbers

  • 81 percent of the Class of 2017 had met all three assessment requirements for graduation (ELA, math, biology) as of May 2017; this number will likely increase as students pass final retakes or meet the requirement through alternatives, such as a collection of evidence.

  • 7 percent of the Class of 2017 had met two of the three requirements, with one assessment requirement remaining. About half of those with one requirement remaining were specifically missing the biology requirement.


Social Media Chatter

The Ready Washington coalition is out with our last video of the 2016-17 school year: #BridgeToCollege. The video features students, teachers, and the principal at Mariner High School (Mukilteo SD) discussing the many benefits of these courses. As many of you know, the Bridge to College courses help prepare students for success in college-level coursework and also help students avoid costly remedial classes. Perhaps more than that, students say these courses help them develop confidence, team work, and critical thinking skills.

New video from @ReadyWA: #BridgeToCollege → https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2d85DXIv56I #WAedu #Math #ELA


What We're Reading

Education advocates fear McCleary compromise won’t go far enough – Seattle Times
“Libuse Binder, executive director of Stand for Children Washington, another advocacy group, ticked off a set of policies lawmakers should pursue as they work at a McCleary solution. They include getting rid of school ‘staff mix’ ratios, a formula at the center of how much state money each district receives; spending more on learning assistance and dual-credit programs; and building an early-warning system to help identify struggling students. ‘Success would look like having all these implemented,’ Binder said.”

What Is Keeping Young Men of Color Out of College?
A new report by the advocacy group, Education Trust, details the social and economic disadvantages facing young men of color that make them more likely to drop out of high school and less likely to go on to and graduate from college. Those barriers are rooted in institutionalized racism, according to the report, which says that only 76 percent of Latino teens and 67 percent of black teens graduate from high school. One student quoted in the report described part of the problem: "My counselors look at me and say, 'You should probably take this type of [lower level] math.' I said, 'Well, I'm taking AP calculus courses in the summer. I want to do this.' They said, 'Are you sure?'"

In Our View: Flunk Exam for Biology
“Yet while some leeway should be allowed regarding the biology test, the situation also provides an opportunity to reiterate the value of standardized tests as a graduation requirement. The Legislature approved such requirements in 1993, and in 1996 Gov. Mike Lowry vetoed a bill to overturn those requirements, writing, “These reforms were historic because, for the first time in our state’s history, they made schools and students accountable for learning — not just for following regulations or sitting through the required number of classes.”That is an essential distinction, and it marks Washington as a state where a diploma is meaningful.”

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