Education Policy Brief - Session Week 6

Current Events & News, High School Success, Legislation | 03/01/2019

Katie Gustainis
Marketing & Communications Director, Stand for Children Washington

Education Policymaking Brief #48

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

Created on February 22, 2019

The Horizon: Key Dates

  • TODAY: High School Success bill (SB 5343) was unanimously voted through the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education @ 8AM
  • TODAY: House-Of-Origin Policy Committee Cutoff
  • Friday, March 1: Fiscal Committee Cutoff
  • Wednesday, March 13: House-of-Origin Cutoff

High School Success

Senator Mullet’s Facilitating High School Success bill (SB 5343) was voted out of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee this morning. This bill would establish equitable policies for enrolling students in advanced classes statewide as well as provide the structure, resources, and expectations to implement Freshmen Success strategies statewide.  It’s expected to be heard in the Ways and Means Committee next week.

Education Policy

Today was the cut-off for bills to be voted out of the education committees in the House and Senate.  You can see a full list of K-12 education bills that made it through the cut-off and their current status in the House and the Senate.

Here are the bills we’re closely tracking that made it through the cut-off:

  • SB 5315, Governor Inslee’s request legislation, moved out of the Senate committee on Wednesday. This bill would provide more funding for school nurses, social workers, psychologists, and school counselors in elementary and middle schools.
  • HB 1265, Rep. Ortiz-Self’s legislation increasing funding for elementary and middle school counselors, was voted through on January 31st and awaits a hearing in the Appropriations committee.
  • SB 5548, OSPI’s request bill, was moved out of the Senate Education Committee today. This bill would alter Washington’s graduation requirements by ‘delinking’ federally required tests from our graduation requirements, meaning students would no longer be required to pass a state assessment in English, Math, and Science in order to graduate. In its place, students would be required to meet one of a list of ‘pathways’ requirements—which include passing the state assessments along with options such as passing an AP or IB exam, passing the Armed Services vocational aptitude battery, or completing a certificate earning CTE program. The bill is an attempt to move past a long-standing debate in the legislature around the test requirement for graduation. The House also advanced Rep. Stonier’s HB 1599, which proposes similar changes to graduation requirements.
  • The Senate has also advanced proposals attempting to address lingering concerns about the 2017 McCleary deal:
    • SB 5313 would allow districts to raise local levy money up to 20% of their overall funding or $3,500 per student—an increase from the caps of $1,500 or $2,000 per student depending on the district.
    • SB 5091 makes changes to the special education safety net which would result in more funding being available to districts coming up short in their ability to cover Special Education costs.

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 or 940-390-3039.

Key Numbers

  • 65 - days left in the regular 2019 session
  • 34% - Data released Feb. 5 by the U.S. Department of Education show that 34 percent of all high school students take dual-credit courses. That figure rises to 42 percent for students whose parents have bachelor's degrees. And it drops to 26 percent for students whose parents didn't complete high school. 

#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

Report suggests lead in drinking water at unsafe levels in most state public schools - Q13 FOX

"The watchdog group Environment Washington analyzed data from water quality tests performed at schools across the state. The department of health tested more than 8,500 fixtures and found 60-percent had lead levels of at least one-parts-per-billion.”

Students from Educated Families More Likely to Take Dual-Credit Classes – Education Week

"It's really a shame, because we know that when those programs are designed well, they can have a benefit for all populations, including underserved populations," Vargas said.

Without special attention to policies and practices to ensure equal access, "you'll get stats like these," he said. What are those areas that need special attention? One is ensuring that state or local policies don't raise financial barriers for students, Vargas said. If families must shoulder the entire cost of dual-enrollment courses, for instance, that will limit some students' opportunities.”

Making the grade: Parents, here’s how to find — and decipher — Washington’s new school report cards - Seattle Times 

"Late last year, Washington state released new school report cards online for parents and guardians to see how well their children’s schools performed. The website broke. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction stabilized its servers sometime after the new year, putting the state in line with new transparency rules under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.”

Legislative committee advances bill that would allow school districts to raise more local taxes - KNKX

"Lawmakers continue to wrestle with the new education-funding system they put in place in 2017, in which the Legislature increased the state property tax as a way to satisfy the long-running McCleary school-finance lawsuit. The approach limited how much districts can raise through local levies. One bill addressing how much school districts can collect through local tax measures recently passed out of a state Senate education committee."

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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