The 2019 legislative budget-writing session has ended without going into special session for the first time in a decade, and we’re thrilled to report several successes on behalf of students.
Now that the dust has settled, here’s where our policy priorities stand:
DUAL-CREDIT EQUITY GOAL: Establish the expectation of an Academic Acceleration policy in every district and eliminate financial barriers for low-income students in advanced english, math, and science classes.
2019 RESULT: Success! Six years after we advocated for and achieved an Academic Acceleration incentive grant program, the legislature passed HB 1599 and has established that every school district in Washington must adopt an Academic Acceleration policy by 2022. This makes Washington the first state in the country to prioritize equity, reduce historic barriers, and elevate every qualified student into the advanced coursework they’re ready for.
FRESHMAN SUCCESS GOAL: Provide every district resources and support to develop and adapt a freshman success strategy for their students.
2019 RESULT: Washington will continue to emphasize the Freshman On-Track metric as part of our state ESSA accountability plan. This year, the legislature included a budget proviso (p. 265) for $250,000 that establishes a pilot program for five districts to implement freshman success and intervention strategies starting in July 2019. OSPI will report to the legislature in December 2020 on the progress of these districts.
We will continue to seek support to implement this programming statewide but we have made a step in the right direction that will support students during the critical freshman year of high school.
INCREASING COUNSELORS GOAL: Direct state funding to invest in school counseling services at the middle and high school level.
2019 RESULT: While there is room for growth, the legislature did allocate funding (p. 270) to increase guidance counselors in 20 elementary and middle schools that are already receiving targeted supports as part of the Washington School Improvement Framework. The twenty schools must already have staffing at or above the recommended ratios in order to receive the additional funding. Amidst the conversations about special education, teacher salaries, and levy equalization funding, an increase in counselor funding was a difficult ask going into session. However, this investment bodes well as a starting point for future funding cycles.
The success we’ve seen this year is really a buoy as we transition into the interim period in between legislative sessions. Now, at Stand for Children, we’re thinking about how to best support school districts and OSPI in implementing these policies and help Washington students.
We are also looking forward to continuing to work with our partners in the High School Success Coalition on prioritizing equitable opportunities for all of Washington’s students. It is with immense gratitude that we consider ourselves part of this group, and we are so thankful to both legislators and our coalition partners for their incredibly hard work this session
This past Monday, we hosted a debrief conference call with advocates from across the state, OSPI, educators, and activists. Listen to the one-hour call here and get the scoop on what happened this session in an audio format.
Thank you, again, for supporting Washington students.
Standing with you,