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Education System Health

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Statewide Indicators of Educational System Health

Our 2020 report shows that while Washington is improving on some key education performance indicators, the rate of improvement is not enough to achieve the long term goals the state has set for its students. It is appropriate to acknowledge the incremental improvement in Washington’s educational outcomes, but also important to retain a sense of urgency about the size and scope of our achievement and opportunity gaps, which present as early as age five, and persist in the data to age 25 and beyond. The Board made a series of recommendations and reforms to address the areas where we have fallen short in our goals. Those recommendations are closely aligned with the Board’s recently adopted 2019-23 Strategic Plan.

Gears graphic showing progression from kindergarten readiness to post-secondary engagement

The Statewide Indicators of the Educational System Health authorizing legislation follows in the footsteps of the work of the Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee (EOGOAC). The EOGOAC is a workgroup comprised of community leaders and state legislators committed to closing racial opportunity gaps in Washington’s K-12 educational system. The data forming part of this work and the recommendations included herein are intended to work in concert with the EOGOAC recommendations and approach to closing the opportunity gap. In 2020, the Board met with the technical advisory committee (TAC) convened in 2018 to assist in the development of the report. The TAC and the EOGOAC provided valuable feedback on the indicators spanning from early childhood through high school and transitions to the post-secondary career and education environment. 

Link to Strategic Plan & System Health One Pager

Recommended Reforms

  1. Expand access to affordable, high-quality early childhood education for all of Washington’s children, particularly children of color and children in poverty. Support the EOGOAC examination of the Washington Inventory of Kindergarten Skills for racial bias to ensure the assessment yields valid and reliable results.

  2. Improve early learning and transitions within the K-12 continuum. Expand the availability of graduation specialists and career specialists in high school.  Maintain the state commitment to rigorous standards and assessment while eliminating the proficiency requirement on assessments to earn a diploma. Increase equity in access to accelerated learning opportunities, including dual credit programs

  3. Ensure students and staff return to safe school environments. Make sure state policy supports school environments where teacher-student relationships are prioritized and educators and staff are given the time and space to foster these relationships. Support the annual administration of a state-funded school climate survey. Maintain the state’s commitment to rigorous standards and assessment while providing meaningful graduation pathways. Create more authentic and meaningful opportunities to engage students, families, and community members as essential partners in the collective process of policymaking. Expand availability of mastery-based learning opportunities for students, through personalized learning strategies and project-based and career-connected learning opportunities, including credit for competencies acquired in the workplace, through volunteer work, or other extracurricular activities. 

  4. Enhance the supports to meet the evolving needs of students by developing a statewide framework for school safety and mental health to provide all schools with access to mental health professionals in schools, links to community-based mental health and other healthcare providers, and wrap-around supports for students. Provide school staff with professional development in trauma-informed, antiracist, and culturally responsive instruction. In addition, provide professional development to support mental health and social emotional learning. Bolster efforts to embed ethnic studies throughout K-12 state learning standards and curricula and to increase ethnic studies offerings in our schools. Update the K-12 content area learning standards to explicitly recognize issues of race, culture, and contributions of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Incorporate antiracism and cultural responsiveness into educator preparation and professional development programs. Encourage intentional consideration of culturally responsive, flexible calendars and scheduling and alternatives to the traditional 180-day calendar. 

  5. Increase investments to expand high quality, publicly funded learning opportunities including extended day, summer learning opportunities and extracurricular activities as well as transportation and other supports necessary to ensure equitable access. Retain and recruit educators and administrators who represent the diversity of the students served, and innovative educational leaders who are committed to eliminating biases, barriers, and opportunity gaps. Provide targeted funding to schools and students who need it most, including support for increased access to mental health services, wrap-around supports, Special Education, and English Language Learners. Modernize the school funding model to invest in more social emotional health and related staff.

  6. Ensure every student and educator has access to broadband Internet, an appropriate device for online learning, and technology support. Support families, caregivers, and community partners in creating environments conducive for successful distance learning.

Board Reports on the Indicators

2018 Report to the Legislature

2016 Report to the Legislature

2014 Report to the Legislature

2013, report to the Legislature

Background on the Indicators

In 2013, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 5491, which pertains to the establishment of goals for our educational system. The law uses the term “statewide indicators of educational health” to describe the metrics upon which system goals will be set. The law requires the SBE to identify realistic but challenging system-wide performance goals and measurements with assistance from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, the Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee, and the Student Achievement Council.

The law further states that if the educational system is not on target to meet the performance goals on any individual indicator, the report must recommend evidence-based reforms intended to improve student achievement in that area. The law required the Board to establish initial system goals in 2013, and issue a report every other year (even-numbered years) on the status of those goals.