Our primary policy priorities during the 2019 legislative session have been laser-focused on supporting high school success. That means reducing barriers to advanced classes, ensuring students have access to counselors, and prioritizing our resources to focus on the freshman year.
The Seattle Times editorial board wrote in support of these policies this past December. Now, as the 2019 legislative budget negotiations are getting underway, the paper has just published a resounding endorsement of the critical Ninth Grade On-Track policies that are under consideration in Olympia.
"If a student passes every class during freshman year of high school, research shows she or he is 3.5 times more likely to graduate four years later.
The Washington Legislature should keep this fact in mind as it debates the state budget. An amendment to the Senate proposal would create a five-school-district pilot to try out a new Ninth Grade On-Track program championed by education advocates Stand for Children."
Lawmakers are currently in the midst of deciding what will make it into the 2019-2021 state budget, and the Senate recently approved an amendment that would provide for a pilot program that would fund the Ninth Grade on-Track (also known as "Freshman Success") work in 5 school districts.
"The Ninth Grade On-Track program, as designed by OSPI, uses both data and interventions to track freshmen and, if necessary, get them back on track. The interventions range from programs to improve attendance to academic tutoring and study groups. Parents get involved through a “student-parent-school compact.” An early warning system uses all kinds of data — from attendance to testing — to identify which students need more help passing their classes."
"The pilot program in the Senate budget would cost $250,000 for the next two years. That’s a good start. But as education researchers have already discovered, success in the 9th grade is already positively connected with improved graduation rates. School districts across the state should be studying this OSPI program and doing their best to embrace its recommendations whether or not they are part of a pilot.
This work is important; school districts should prioritize some budget dollars in this direction this next school year."
It's incredibly encouraging to see this type of endorsement of policies that have been proven to work for Washington students. Keep an eye out for updates on education policy as the legislative session comes a close later this month