State Superintendent Randy Dorn's Top 5 Priorities
Because of inadequate state funding, Washington's school districts are forced to pay for a portion of basic education services using local levy dollars. Wealthy districts are able to pass high levies. Poor districts are not. This creates substantial inequity across our state — and it violates the civil rights of families who live in districts that lack financial resources.
Constitution plainly states that it is the state's "paramount duty" to amply fund basic education. In January 2012, the state Supreme Court upheld that concept in its
McCleary v. Washington decision.
The State is under a court order to produce a plan showing how it intends to achieve full state funding of K-12 basic education by 2018 without the use of local levies. As of 2015, the Governor and Legislature have not complied with that order. I have developed my own
complete plan to guide their work.
In 2011, Washington's
extended graduation rate — which includes those students who take longer than four years to graduate — topped 80 percent for the first time. I applaud our schools and our educators for their efforts in this area.
How do we make that number climb? We must provide more support to students who need it.
Our state began using the Smarter Balanced Assessments in the 2014-15 school year. Smarter Balanced is an online system that assess the
Washington State K-12 Learning Standards in math and English language arts. While no assessment is perfect, it's the best system our state has ever had, and it saves money and increases efficiency.
However, I'm concerned about the number of tests high school students take.
Testing requirements vary by year of expected graduation. That makes navigating graduation requirements challenging for students, families, and school staff. I will continue to pursue legislative changes to streamline that process, without taking away the rigor that all Washington citizens have come to expect for their students.
Career and technical education (CTE) programs and
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) opportunities give students a chance to apply their classroom learning to daily life and engage students who learn better in a hands-on environment. OSPI has partnered with
Microsoft IT Academy, Boeing, and other companies to help make that happen.
I am particularly proud about the progress we have made in
early learning. Investment in early learning pays off throughout a student's education: A student who gains important academic and social-emotional skills early is more likely to stay in school and eventually graduate.
We have increased the number of schools offering full-day kindergarten and have implemented the
Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS), which provides a snapshot of where Washington's kindergartners are in their development early in the school year and sets them up for success in school.