March 16, 2018 Policy Brief

A summary for those closely following the debate.

Now that the legislative session has ended, this brief will reduce in frequency going forward. Thank you for your interest in Washington education policy!

The Horizon: Key Dates

  • Friday, May 18th: Election Filing Deadline
  • July 20th: Ballots Mailed
  • August 7th: Primary Election
  • October 19th: Ballots Mailed
  • November 6th: General Election


To wrap-up the session, we’ve pulled together an overview of our legislative priorities and the most significant education legislation to be passed into law this year. To read the full-length version, please visit our website. Here is a shortened version of our 2018 legislative summary:

High School Success Priorities: Our legislative priorities were focused on two High School Success policies: Academic Acceleration and Early Warning Data Systems. Although the policies went through several bill iterations in both the Senate and the House, they did not make it far enough in the process to become law in 2018. However, we are pleased with the solid foundation that was laid for both policies upon which we can build momentum going forward. We have plans to continue our work with school districts statewide throughout the year, supporting the implementation of High School Success policies that support every student.  

Adjustments to Education Funding: In the final days of the 2018 session, the legislature tweaked last year’s bill designed to equitably fund education. Called the “McCleary Fix,” it made several revisions to education spending.

  • Teacher Salaries: Most notably, the new law aligns with the recent state Supreme Court ruling that full funding take place by 2018. The primary outcome is an accelerated increase in teacher salaries for 2018-2019, originally planned for 2019-2020.
  • Special Education: The bill attempts to tackle the inequities in special education funding by increasing the ratio of extra dollars to districts.
  • Students in Poverty: Last year’s education bill allocated additional Learning Assistance Program (LAP) money to schools with more than 50% of students living in poverty. The legislature adjusted this qualification so that now funding is given to schools based on a three-year rolling average rather than only the previous year’s enrollment.
  • Highly Capable: The new law provides guidelines for selecting highly capable students as determined by  policy rom last year which infused an additional $62.8 million into highly capable programs over four years.

“Breakfast after the bell”: A bill that would make sure students who need it, can get breakfast at school. The bill was first introduced in 2017 and moved quickly through the legislative process this session. The bill requires schools to continue offering breakfast after the school day begins so students who cannot arrive at school early do not go hungry during class.

Dyslexia Screening: A bill aimed at recognizing dyslexia early to provide students with the supports they need was successful this year. It articulates the definition of dyslexia in law, and requires districts to screen children in grades K-2 for indicators of dyslexia as determined by specific criteria.

Supporting undocumented students: Undocumented students who have lived in Washington for three consecutive years prior to graduating from a Washington high school, and who commit to applying for permanent residency when available, can now be eligible for the College Bound Scholarship program. This bill will protect students who might previously have qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

Read our full-length 2018 legislative summary on our website

Key Numbers 

  • About 76 percent of Running Start students who graduated from high school in 2014-15 enrolled in a two- or four-year college after high school, compared to only about 55 percent of students who did not take Running Start courses.
  • At White Center Heights, the chronic absenteeism rate plunged from 24 percent of students to 8 percent in three years (Seattle Times)

Social Media Chatter


What We're Reading

At 25, Running Start is a success. Now it must attract the students who need it the most. – Seattle Times

The dual-credit program that allows students to get college credits while in high school at little cost is proving to be a national model but benefiting most are middle-class students who planned to go to college anyway.

A Picture of Chronic Absenteeism – Stand for Children Washington Blog

Cinthia is one of many “chronically absent” students that Washington struggles with. The state has the second highest rate of chronically absent students in the country with 17% of students missing 18 or more days of school per year. These students often struggle to catch up once they’ve started falling behind.

From Tumwater to Seattle, students unite in gun walkout – Crosscut

Absent any school bell to prompt them, thousands of teenagers in schools across Puget Sound left their classrooms as the clock struck 10 on Wednesday morning.


Thank you for reading our summary. Please share any questions or feedback you may have with Katie Gustainis,

We look forward to hearing from you.

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