Education Policy Update
February 28, 2019
OLYMPIA – February 22 was the cut-off for bills to be voted out of the education committees in the House and Senate. Some key bills that made it through the cut-off include:
SB 5343 Senator Mullet’s Facilitating High School Success bill seeks to establish equitable policies for enrolling student in advanced classes statewide as well as provide the structure, resources, and expectations to implement Freshmen Success strategies statewide. It is expected to be hear in the Ways and Means Committee this week.
SB 5315 Gov. Jay Inslee’s bill would provide more funding for school nurses, social workers, psychologists, and school counselors in elementary and middle schools.
HB 1265 Rep. Ortiz-Self’s legislation increasing funding for elementary and middle school counselors, was voted through on January 31st and awaits a hearing in the Appropriations committee.
SB 5548 OSPI’s request bill, was moved out of the Senate Education Committee. This bill would alter Washington’s graduation requirements by ‘delinking’ federally required tests from graduation requirements, meaning students would no longer be required to pass a state assessment in English, Math, and Science in order to graduate. In its place, students would be required to meet one of a list of ‘pathways’ requirements—which include passing the state assessments along with options such as passing an AP or IB exam, passing the Armed Services vocational aptitude battery, or completing a certificate earning CTE program. The bill is an attempt to move past a long-standing debate in the legislature around the test requirement for graduation. The House also advanced Rep. Stonier’s HB 1599, which proposes similar changes to graduation requirements.
The Senate has also advanced proposals attempting to address lingering concerns about the 2017 McCleary deal:
SB 5313 would allow districts to raise local levy money up to 20% of their overall funding or $3,500 per student—an increase from the caps of $1,500 or $2,000 per student depending on the district.
SB 5091 makes changes to the special education safety net which would result in more funding being available to districts coming up short in their ability to cover Special Education costs.
Food for thought: Data released by the U.S. Department of Education shows that 34 percent of high school students take dual-credit courses. That figure rises to 42 percent for students whose parents have bachelor’s degrees and drops to 26 percent for students whose parents did not complete high school. These numbers suggest that those who would benefit most from taking dual-credit classes are either not getting access to or are not taking advantage of the opportunity. If families are required to cover the entire cost of dual enrollment courses, it will limit some students’ opportunities.