The following is a statement from State Superintendent Randy Dorn on using state testing to help determine if students are on a path to success after high school:
OLYMPIA — April 27, 2015 — In September, the Supreme Court held the State in contempt of court because the Legislature hadn’t produced a complete plan to fully fund basic education by 2018. At the time, I argued that the Court should allow the State the 2015 legislative session to act. As a former legislator, I thought that was fair, particularly because the Legislature had earlier assured the Court that 2015 would be the year of the “grand agreement” on education funding.
Unfortunately, during the regular session, the only complete plan introduced was the one my office generated, based almost entirely on the court decision and laws already adopted by the Legislature.
To say I’m disappointed is an understatement.
I am encouraged that late in the session, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate introduced bills that show progress toward meeting
McCleary v. Washington. This shows serious conversations are taking place. But the bills have yet to move through the legislative process. Simply put, the State hasn’t done enough for the Supreme Court to lift the contempt order.
That means we are no closer to full state funding of our schools now than we were six months ago. Students in some parts of the state continue to receive a better, more well-funded education than students in other areas of our state.
Reaching agreement on a complete plan to fully fund education and avoid a constitutional showdown with the Supreme Court must be the top priority during this legislative session.
In addition to funding, however, a long list of unfinished education policy items remain, such as:
- Technology: As part of the
state’s learning goals for all students, technology is vitally important for the future, and is part of basic education.
A bill I requested would require students to show their proficiency by passing a technology literacy and fluency test, or by completing a culminating project “or other substantively equivalent methods.” Accompanying the bill was a budget request for $139 million that would increase student allocations for technology and fund staff support to update technology learning standards so that they align with existing state standards. The bill passed the education committees in the House and Senate, but the funding request was not included in either the House or Senate budget.
- Dropouts: We need to provide support to students who are in danger of dropping out. A good approach,
which I support, would require OSPI to administer a statewide dropout prevention, intervention and retrieval program. In addition, I requested $31 million to provide wrap-around services and counseling for at-risk students. This request not only would lower the dropout rate, but also make our schools safer by providing students the services they need. Again, this proposal was not funded in either budget.
- Assessment: Students are overtested.
A bill I introduced would eliminate the requirement that students pass tests to graduate. Instead, if students don’t show that they are college-and-career ready by 11th grade, they can take specific classes during their senior year to give them the skills they need. A version of this bill was still under consideration as late as this week.
- Waiver: For the second year in a row, I’ve asked the Legislature to make a simple adjustment to our teacher and principal evaluation system. The adjustment – asking that student growth on state tests, when available, be one of many components in their evaluations – would secure a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act. It would return the control of $40 million to districts across the state, instead of the money going to private tutoring companies. This bill passed the Senate, but has not progressed in the House.
I call on the Legislature to address all of these familiar issues during the special session.
I hope that the special session Gov. Jay Inslee has called for produces solid results. Our students have waited too long already, and I doubt the Supreme Court will tolerate further delay.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.
OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.
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