Education Policy Brief - Back to School

Current Events & News, Legislation | 09/27/2019

Katie Gustainis
Marketing & Communications Director, Stand for Children Washington

Education Policymaking Brief #59

A summary for those closely following the education policy debate in Olympia.

September 27, 2019

With school back in session, autumn is now upon us.  As we prepare for the upcoming 2020 Legislative Session, we will resume issuing our policymaking brief on education issues in Washington on a (mostly) bi-weekly basis before starting our weekly schedule once session begins in January. Our team is always available to dive into the details of any education policy questions you have. Please feel free to reach out to me via email to get your education questions answered. 

For those who are new to Washington since the 2019 Legislative Session or who would benefit (as I always do) from a quick refresher on education policy adopted during that Session, we’ve put together a 2019 Recap below that can be scanned in 40 seconds.

The Horizon: Key Dates

  • November 5 – General Election (last day to mail in your ballots)
  • November 18-22 – Interim Legislative Committee Days
  • January 13 – 2020 Legislative Session begins 

Education Policy: What happened in the interim

One major development during the interim was the August 1 launch of the Center for High School Success. The Center for High School Success is a new data-based program founded on proven policies for increasing high school graduation rates called the Center for High School Success officially launched in Washington State. During the 2018-19 school year the Center will be partnering with ten districts in Washington - East Valley in Spokane, Ellensburg, Evergreen, Grandview, Highline, Moses Lake, Pride Prep, Toppenish, Warden, and Wahluke - to provide free support services in participating schools that includes one-on-one support coaches for teachers and staff, data analytics support to track student progress, inter-district networking to share best practices, and access to ongoing policy research evaluating how to best identify and support ninth graders at-risk of not graduating high school. The Center’s Ninth Grade Success approach is informed by research findings that students who are on-track to graduate at the end of ninth grade are four times more likely to graduate than their off-track peers. The approach also has a proven track record for improving graduation rates in public schools.

Education Policy: 2019 Recap

CLICK HERE to see our full-length summary of education policy in 2019. Want an audio version? You can also listen to the recording of our 1-hour legislative debrief here. For those looking for a quick refresher that can be scanned in 40 seconds, we’ve got you covered, too.

  • $250,000, 5-district pilot program for Freshman On-Track programming: will bolster the state’s efforts to identify incoming high school students at-risk of not graduating.
  • HB 1599 officially established Academic Acceleration statewide, making Washington State the first state in the country to adopt such barrier-breaking policy to automatically enroll all proficient high school students into “the most rigorous course” available to them.
  • HB 1599 changed Washington’s high school graduation requirements—replacing the stipulation that students pass the state’s English and Math tests with 8 pathways available to students to demonstrate career-and-college readiness. The bill also made necessary changes to the High School and Beyond Plan.
  • $9.8 million was provided for dual-credit programs, including subsidized Advanced Placement exam fees and International Baccalaureate class fees and exam fees for low-income students.
  • Almost a million dollars was allocated to develop and online High School and Beyond platform and staff a mastery-based learning workgroup.
  • $1.813 million was provided for increased school counselors at 20 of the state’s most struggling elementary and middle schools.
  • $3.9 billion in new funding for K-12 education, including $155 million for Special Education.
    • $373.8 million to fund State Need Grant and career-connected programing for Workforce Education Investment Account.
    • $11.5 million for career connected learning initiatives
    • $172.3 million implementation of Guided Pathways, foundational support, salary increases, new degrees and expanded enrollment at our community and technical colleges.

Let us know if you have any questions about a specific bill or what we’re watching closely on the education policy docket. You can reach me at

Key Numbers

  • 10 - Current number of school districts partnering with the Center for High School Success
  • 44th – Washington’s ranking in the United States for high school graduation rates

#WAedu Social Media Chatter


Education Funding: An explainer

How do Washington schools get funded, anyway? An education funding primer video to get you started:

What We’re Reading 

New effort forms partnerships to help ninth-graders succeed in Central Washington – Yakima Herald

“…The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is partnering with a new Stand with Children program, the Center for High School Success. The center, launched earlier this month, will offer training for partner schools on data-based intervention on a one-by-one basis, such as by addressing tutoring needs or attendance. It then provides coaches who meet regularly with school teams to continue training in data analysis and intervention.”

South Seattle has a new representative on the Seattle School Board: Teacher Brandon Hersey appointed to 2-year term – Seattle Times

“The South End will now be represented on the Seattle School Board by Federal Way elementary school teacher Brandon Hersey. The board appointed Hersey to the seat Wednesday evening and swore him in immediately. His term runs through fall 2021, the next regularly scheduled election for the seat.”

The Education Policymaking Brief is produced by Stand for Children Washington, a public education advocacy organization, and was established in 2017. If you’d like to review previous briefs, they are available here.

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