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Issue Position: Education

Issue Position

Location: Unknown

Recent steps toward increasing educational attainment:

Beginning in 1992 the landscape of educational expectations in Washington changed. House Bill 1209 identified the skills and knowledge our students need to graduate prepared to enter the college of their choice. Unfortunately, funding for teacher professional development remains unfulfilled.

In 2009 the Legislature recognized the expanding demands on our students and made the biggest changes to basic education and its funding formula in more than 30 years. House Bill 2261 enhanced the definition of basic education and created a new, more transparent school funding formula model. The planning and phase-in have already begun.

In 2010 the Legislature followed up with House Bill 2776. This important next step sets in statute the numeric values for the new funding formula and identified phase-in dates for increased funding.

Also in 2010, we broadened the scope of education reforms to include the early learning needs of our littlest learners. Research shows that children who are enrolled in top-quality early education programs are less likely to fail grades, need special education services or become involved in the criminal justice system. House Bill 2731 lays outs out a timeline to expand the state's preschool program to all of the most at risk children.

Additionally in 2010, the Legislature led the charge for a new four-tiered evaluation system, including accountability, with Senate Bill 6696. The Teacher/Principal Evaluation Pilot projects have been hard at work since, creating a system that will provide meaningful feedback to improve every principal's and teacher's performance and ensure every child has a high quality educator in front of the class. Based on the work of these pilots, this year 65 districts created a new evaluation system. That's nearly one-third of the 295 school districts moving in the right direction in less than two years. Furthering this effort, this session, Senate Bill 5895 became law, establishing greater detail for the four-tier teacher/principal evaluation system -- which will go statewide by 2015-16.

Today's most in-demand, lucrative careers involve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. Washington ranks second in the national innovation economy, although we graduate very few STEM students to meet to demand. We have passed legislation to enhance STEM curriculum, support innovation schools, on-line learning and continue to partner with businesses to engage students with hands on learning so they can be the mathematicians, scientists and engineers needed today and tomorrow.

Our education reform efforts over the past 20 years have clearly defined the expectations for our educational system and establish what we value as a state.

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