State Board Chair: Our Student Diversity is a Treasure

“I wanted to take a moment to send a message on behalf of the State Board to our students in Washington. The Board takes seriously our mission to provide a high-quality education that prepares each and every one of our students for college, career, and life.  We believe it is important to share with you and your families that the State Board of Education believes that one of our greatest treasures as a state is found in our diverse student population.

“As a daughter of Spanish-speaking parents who is now serving as the chair of the Washington State Board of Education, I want to personally reach out to our students of color, our young girls and women, and those who speak languages other than English.  I have walked in your shoes and I know how hard the journey can be.  Just know that I believe in your potential to do great things for our state and this country.  Also know that there are those in your school buildings, in your community and in your state government that will continue to work hard to support you along the way.  So keep your eyes on your goals, your feet moving forward, and know we got your back.”

— State Board of Education Chair Isabel Muñoz-Colón

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Statement on McCleary order by State Board of Education Chair

State Board of Education Chair Isabel Muñoz-Colón issued the following statement on today’s order by the State Supreme Court in the McCleary case regarding Washington’s public school funding:

“I applaud the Supreme Court for continuing sanctions, and emphasizing the urgency of strengthened school funding.  The legal sanctions are meaningful, but the real urgency comes from a looming crisis: fewer and fewer of our best and brightest are choosing the teaching profession. Clearly, the state does not fund compensation or provide professional development at levels that will attract and retain the best educators for our next generation of students.”

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Board’s input for Education Funding Task Force

Responding to a request for input on implementing a program of basic education, the State Board of Education sent this letter to Legislature’s Education Funding Task Force :

September 8, 2016

Dear Members of the Education Funding Task Force:

We appreciate your request for input from stakeholder communities on how the Education Funding Task Force can utilize its platform to better our education system in Washington State.   Specifically, you ask for “a description of what you feel would define a successful Washington K-12 public school system.”

The State Board of Education has a unique role in this process.  By statute, the Board is charged with “advocacy and strategic oversight of public education,” as well as a responsibility to “promote achievement of the goals” of the program of basic education (RCW 28A.305.130).  We also have a unique responsibility in setting standards for high school graduation for individual students, and setting goals for our public education system on a range of student achievement indicators (RCW.28A.150.550).

Given our role, we are regularly confronted with the relationship between the standards set for our schools, and the resources deployed to help reach those standards.  Our collective view is that performance and funding are connected.  While minimum proficiency standards may not require difficult resource decisions, truly high college and career-ready standards for all students – such as those adopted by Washington – require commensurately high resources.

We believe that the role standards play in funding decisions is key to your work.  We understand that analyzing the accounting detail of how districts spend their local levy funding is potentially useful to policymakers.  We are concerned, however, that it becomes the basis for determining what ‘ample’ funding is.  It seems more desirable that “full funding” be based not simply on what was included in HB 2276, or what is currently expended out of excess levies, but rather on a specially designed basic education program that broadly fulfills the ambitious statutory goal of preparing all high school graduates “for success in postsecondary education, gainful employment, and citizenship.” (RCW 28A.230.090).  That is what we believe the Quality Education Council attempted to do, and what we ask you to consider as part of your recommendations going forward.

Despite our ambitious goals, it is worth noting that today approximately 3 out of every 10 low-income students do not graduate in 4 years, while only slightly more than half of limited English proficient students do so.  Without the needed resources, these gaps will persist and may even widen as we transition to a K-12 system that is fully aligned to college and career-ready standards.  While funding levels are certainly not the only reason for these unacceptable outcomes, we believe they are a meaningful contributing factor.  Accordingly, we would ask the Task Force to consider the following recommendations for inclusion in its final report.

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Smarter Balanced Participation goals

In its March meeting, the board voted to release a statement about the benefits of Smarter Balanced assessments. There are several good reasons for Washington students to take the Smarter Balanced Assessments.

On the assessments’ benefits, board chair Isabel Muñoz-Colón said, “Smarter Balanced assessments help Washington students in two ways. For students who are struggling, the assessment can be used by educators and other stakeholders to identify who needs help and target resources to those students and their families. Students achieving a level 3 or 4 on the assessment can be placed directly into credit-bearing courses at Washington colleges and universities. We now have a system where the pathway to college and career, though not perfect, is much clearer.”

For more information, read the board’s statement addressing participation rates for the Smarter Balanced Assessment and a set of goals about assessment participation and remediation rates (also below).

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Community Outreach

Starting in March 2015, the SBE changed its approach to community meetings, opening the meetings to any member of the community with an interest in Washington’s education system. 217 people attended a community forum in 2015 – were you one of them? Register for the March 8 forum in Renton today!

2016Infographic

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