SBE Chair Signals Support for More Flexible Approach to New Instructional Hour Requirements

Yesterday, Chairwoman Dr. Kristina Mayer sent the below letter to Senate lawmakers signaling support for providing school districts more flexibility in meeting the new instructional hour requirements scheduled to take effect in the 2014-15 school year.   The letter was in response to Senate Bill 6552, which would delay the increased instructional time requirements by one year, allow compliance with the requirement to be calculated as an average across all grades (rather than across specific grade bands or grades), and provide districts flexibility in how to deploy budgeted resources to best support a career and college-ready diploma, starting with the Class of 2019.

In the letter, Chair Mayer emphasizes the need to stay focused on the desired system outcome of career and college-readiness for all students, rather than focusing on inputs.

Dear Members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee:

KristinaMayerOn behalf of the State Board of Education, I would like to thank you for your work on authorizing the 24 credit Career and College-Ready graduation requirement framework for the Class of 2019.

Like you, we have heard concerns raised by school districts regarding the implementation of the 1080 hour instructional hour requirement for grades 7-12, contained in ESHB 2261 (2009) and set to take effect for the 2014-15 school year.  The State Board of Education believes this bill represents a fair compromise — it provides the flexibility on “inputs” (the timing and the calculation of the instructional hours component) while preserving the outcome of improved postsecondary preparation through a meaningful high school diploma for the Class of 2019.

Career and college-readiness for our graduates is the ultimate policy goal.  Several school district superintendents have indicated a support for the revised 24 credit framework, but need some flexibility to make sure resources can be strategically deployed to support this goal most effectively on a case by case basis.   Instructional time is an important component of the program of basic education; however, we believe some flexibility in how this new requirement is met is warranted, given the delays experienced during the June 2013 special session of the Legislature, and unique circumstances of each district as they decide how best to modify course offerings for the class of 2019, our current 7th graders.

The Board has worked hard on the framework to make it into something that school districts and other stakeholders can support.  Ultimately, we believe providing the flexibility contained in Senate Bill 6552 gets us there.  We ask for your support in passing Senate Bill 6552 as proposed.

Sincerely,

Dr. Kristina Mayer,
Chair

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