Gov. Jay Inslee and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn today met with legislators about proposed legislation that would put Washington in a strong position to protect nearly $40 million in federal funds for struggling students. The proposal by Inslee and Dorn, would also allow Washington to continue its successful implementation of a new teacher and principal evaluation system (TPEP).
The legislation being drafted represents a compromise Inslee brought to U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Secretary Arne Duncan Sunday. The USDOE has placed Washington at "high risk" of losing a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law that allows the state to continue receiving certain federal funds while it implements the teacher and principal evaluation program. USDOE has told states they "must" include statewide assessments as part of teacher evaluations, but Washington's evaluation program currently says districts "can" do so.
"This funding is crucial in our efforts to support struggling students, and I think everyone in Olympia agrees we must do everything we can to preserve it," said Inslee. "I assured Secretary Duncan that if he grants us this waiver, we will ultimately be able to deliver a stronger, more effective evaluation system that better serves our students and educators. He indicated that, given our demonstrable progress on a range of reforms, this is a positive step could provide a satisfactory path forward. "
The bill from Inslee and Dorn will call for statewide assessments to begin in the 2017-18 school year. To ensure that consideration of the use of new standards and assessments are adequately reviewed, and to address cultural bias, the bill directs the TPEP Steering Committee to submit recommendations to Dorn's office in 2016-17. The bill only goes into effect if USDOE extends Washington's waiver.
"The best thing for the state of Washington is to move forward, get the bill passed and get this waiver from the feds," said state Superintendent Randy Dorn. "This is the best thing for our kids."
Washington is one of a handful of states at risk of losing its waiver. Inslee said he knows his bill won't be embraced by everyone, but it offers legislators a realistic, viable -- and necessary -- option. He says it's critical for legislators to remain focused on the key goal of preserving Washington's waiver.
"Doing nothing is not an option if we want to preserve that funding," he said. "Washington has gone above and beyond what many other states are doing. We've made tremendous progress on a range of reforms to boost student performance including Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, accountability measures and more. Our TPEP system is one of those accountability measures. I think this bill gives USDOE the assurance they need about our commitment, and the time we need to do this right."