Partnership For Learning

In 2014, Partnership for Learning is celebrating its 20th anniversary. This landmark milestone provides an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the impact of the Partnership, its achievements since 1994 and its vision by year 2020 for K-12 public education in Washington state.

2014

College & Career Ready Diploma Authorized

In March 2014, the Washington state Legislature resoundingly approved Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 6552, which authorizes the College and Career Ready Diploma. The 24-credit diploma, a longtime policy priority of the State Board of Education, Washington Roundtable, Partnership for Learning and Excellent Schools Now coalition, more closely aligns Washington state’s graduation requirements with college-entrance requirements. SB 6552 authorizes the diploma requirements for students in the class of 2019. It also addresses instructional hours, calls for the development of career and technical course equivalencies and reallocates $97 million in the state education budget for science labs, high school counselors, and materials, supplies and operating costs to assist school districts in implementing the new diploma.

In March 2014, the Washington state Legislature resoundingly approved Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 6552, which authorizes the College and Career Ready Diploma. The 24-credit diploma, a longtime policy priority of the State Board of Education, Washington Roundtable, Partnership for Learning and Excellent Schools Now coalition, more closely aligns Washington state’s graduation requirements with college-entrance requirements. SB 6552 authorizes the diploma requirements for students in the class of 2019. It also addresses instructional hours, calls for the development of career and technical course equivalencies and reallocates $97 million in the state education budget for science labs, high school counselors, and materials, supplies and operating costs to assist school districts in implementing the new diploma.

2013

Real Learning for Real Life

PFL, in partnership  with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), forms and leads the Ready Washington coalition to help build public awareness, understanding and support of the Common Core State Standards,. The effort focuses on communicating with parents, educators and the public on how the new learning standards will help prepare students for college, work and life.

PFL, in partnership  with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), forms and leads the Ready Washington coalition to help build public awareness, understanding and support of the Common Core State Standards,. The effort focuses on communicating with parents, educators and the public on how the new learning standards will help prepare students for college, work and life.

Next Generation Science Standards Adopted

Washington becomes the 8th state to adopt new Next Generation Science Standards. A follow-on to the Common Core State Standards effort, these new science standards outline key scientific concepts students should master as well as important practices scientists and engineers use to solve problems. Washington was a lead state in the development of the new learning standards.

Washington becomes the 8th state to adopt new Next Generation Science Standards. A follow-on to the Common Core State Standards effort, these new science standards outline key scientific concepts students should master as well as important practices scientists and engineers use to solve problems. Washington was a lead state in the development of the new learning standards.

School Intervention Authorized

Lawmakers adopt legislation (SB 5329) that will authorize OSPI to intervene in the state’s lowest-performing schools. The State Board of Education is charged with creating an accountability framework and OSPI must have a system of support and intervention in place for the 2014-15 school year. Following years of advocacy by PFL and other education reform supporters, the focus on accountability is a significant advancement.

Lawmakers adopt legislation (SB 5329) that will authorize OSPI to intervene in the state’s lowest-performing schools. The State Board of Education is charged with creating an accountability framework and OSPI must have a system of support and intervention in place for the 2014-15 school year. Following years of advocacy by PFL and other education reform supporters, the focus on accountability is a significant advancement.

Charter School Implementation

As Washington State prepares to authorize its initial charter schools, PFL teams with College Spark and the Model Schools Project to publish “Expanding Our Expectations,” a research paper on how college- and career-readiness expectations are leading to different learning environments. PFL is also instrumental in helping create the Washington State Charter Schools Association, a new non-profit to provide best practices and other technical support to those looking to create new charter schools.

As Washington State prepares to authorize its initial charter schools, PFL teams with College Spark and the Model Schools Project to publish “Expanding Our Expectations,” a research paper on how college- and career-readiness expectations are leading to different learning environments. PFL is also instrumental in helping create the Washington State Charter Schools Association, a new non-profit to provide best practices and other technical support to those looking to create new charter schools.

2012

McCleary v State

The State Supreme Court, in ruling on McCleary v State, declares the state of Washington is failing to live up to its constitutional duty of amply funding basic K-12 public education. The unanimous landmark ruling by the
highest court orders the state Legislature to make steady, real and measurable progress annually toward the goal of fully funding K-12 education by 2018.

The State Supreme Court, in ruling on McCleary v State, declares the state of Washington is failing to live up to its constitutional duty of amply funding basic K-12 public education. The unanimous landmark ruling by the
highest court orders the state Legislature to make steady, real and measurable progress annually toward the goal of fully funding K-12 education by 2018.

Job Skills Gap Analyzed

PFL partners with the Washington Roundtable and Boston Consulting Group to analyze the skills gap in Washington State. The resulting study estimates that there are 25,000 jobs that are persistently unfilled in the state due to a lack of candidates with the requisite skills, and the study projects that number will grow to 50,000 over the coming five years if nothing is done. But what really gets lawmakers’ attention are the benefits of closing the gap: approximately 160,000 new jobs, a drop in the state unemployment rate of up to 2 percent, and nearly $800 million in new state and local tax revenues each year.

PFL partners with the Washington Roundtable and Boston Consulting Group to analyze the skills gap in Washington State. The resulting study estimates that there are 25,000 jobs that are persistently unfilled in the state due to a lack of candidates with the requisite skills, and the study projects that number will grow to 50,000 over the coming five years if nothing is done. But what really gets lawmakers’ attention are the benefits of closing the gap: approximately 160,000 new jobs, a drop in the state unemployment rate of up to 2 percent, and nearly $800 million in new state and local tax revenues each year.

Public Charter Schools Authorized

Washington voters declare that the state should finally join 41 other states by authorizing public charter schools. Initiative 1240’s narrow passage authorizes the creation of 40 charter schools over the coming five years. Upon implementation, a number of charter school applications are submitted to local and state education authorities. Spokane is the first school district in the state approved by the State Board of Education to authorize a local public charter school within its boundaries.

Washington voters declare that the state should finally join 41 other states by authorizing public charter schools. Initiative 1240’s narrow passage authorizes the creation of 40 charter schools over the coming five years. Upon implementation, a number of charter school applications are submitted to local and state education authorities. Spokane is the first school district in the state approved by the State Board of Education to authorize a local public charter school within its boundaries.

2011

Washington STEM Launched

After several years of hard work by PFL and its volunteer leaders, a new non-profit organization is launched to increase student interest and achievement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. Washington STEM is organized to advocate for stronger STEM education programs and to provide private-sector funding to allow more timely deployment of demonstrably effective instructional practices statewide. Major funding for the new non-profit comes from PFL members such as Boeing, McKinstry, and Microsoft.

After several years of hard work by PFL and its volunteer leaders, a new non-profit organization is launched to increase student interest and achievement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. Washington STEM is organized to advocate for stronger STEM education programs and to provide private-sector funding to allow more timely deployment of demonstrably effective instructional practices statewide. Major funding for the new non-profit comes from PFL members such as Boeing, McKinstry, and Microsoft.

Class of 2016 and Beyond Graduation Requirements

As a step toward full implementation of its 24-credit Career- and College-Ready Graduation standards, the State Board of Education adopts a 20-credit requirement, beginning with the Class of 2016. The approach is designed to increase rigor, while retaining flexibility for districts, schools and students to tailor the requirements to their individual needs. Districts are allowed to apply for an additional two years to implement some of the changes in areas such as English and Social Studies.

As a step toward full implementation of its 24-credit Career- and College-Ready Graduation standards, the State Board of Education adopts a 20-credit requirement, beginning with the Class of 2016. The approach is designed to increase rigor, while retaining flexibility for districts, schools and students to tailor the requirements to their individual needs. Districts are allowed to apply for an additional two years to implement some of the changes in areas such as English and Social Studies.

2010

Common Core State Standards Adopted

The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers jointly develop a series of proposed Common Core State Standards for English language arts and math. These standards will provide valuable consistency and rigor from state to state. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn provisionally adopts the standards in 2010, with their final adoption coming in 2011. PFL continues to work with its coalition partners and other education stakeholders to promote thoughtful implementation of these standards and a smooth transition to their related assessments.

The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers jointly develop a series of proposed Common Core State Standards for English language arts and math. These standards will provide valuable consistency and rigor from state to state. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn provisionally adopts the standards in 2010, with their final adoption coming in 2011. PFL continues to work with its coalition partners and other education stakeholders to promote thoughtful implementation of these standards and a smooth transition to their related assessments.

Teacher Evaluation System Enacted

Lawmakers enact legislation (SB 6696) creating a four-tiered principal and teacher evaluation system that will provide more meaningful feedback on educator performance. The law allows student performance data to be used as a factor in evaluations. Related legislation (SB 5895) directs that the evaluations be used as one element in professional development, staffing and other human resource decisions in the schools. After completion of several pilot programs, the evaluation system is implemented statewide.

Lawmakers enact legislation (SB 6696) creating a four-tiered principal and teacher evaluation system that will provide more meaningful feedback on educator performance. The law allows student performance data to be used as a factor in evaluations. Related legislation (SB 5895) directs that the evaluations be used as one element in professional development, staffing and other human resource decisions in the schools. After completion of several pilot programs, the evaluation system is implemented statewide.

State Graduation Assessment Requirements Changed

End-of-course exams in math (Algebra, Geometry or Integrated Math) and science (Biology) are authorized to replace comprehensive assessments in those subjects for graduation purposes. As before, students who do not receive a passing score on the assessments have the option to pursue alternative routes to demonstrate proficiency.

End-of-course exams in math (Algebra, Geometry or Integrated Math) and science (Biology) are authorized to replace comprehensive assessments in those subjects for graduation purposes. As before, students who do not receive a passing score on the assessments have the option to pursue alternative routes to demonstrate proficiency.

Excellent Schools Now

After failing to earn any of the federal Department of Education’s $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” grant funds, Partnership for Learning teams with other education advocacy groups to create a statewide coalition to accelerate career and college readiness for all students, especially for low-income students and students of color. More than 40 organizations sign on to promote an ambitious, six-year “A+ Washington: A Way Forward for All Students” strategic plan. The plan’s five strategies are to: (1) Expand access to high-quality pre-Kindergarten to 3rd-grade education; (2) Ensure access to excellent teachers and leaders; (3) Position students for career and college readiness; (4) Implement flexible and transformative approaches to K-12 education; and (5) Develop effective data and accountability systems.

 

After Washington state places near the bottom in the U.S. Department of Education’s $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” grant competition, Partnership for Learning teams with other education advocacy groups to create Excellent Schools Now, a statewide coalition to accelerate career- and college-readiness for all students, especially for low-income students and students of color. More than 40 organizations sign on to promote an ambitious six-year strategic plan called “A+ Washington: A Way Forward for All Students.” The plan’s five strategies are to: (1) Expand access to high-quality pre-Kindergarten to 3rd-grade education; (2) Ensure access to excellent teachers and leaders; (3) Position students for career and college readiness; (4) Implement flexible and transformative approaches to K-12 education; and (5) Develop effective data and accountability systems.

After failing to earn any of the federal Department of Education’s $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” grant funds, Partnership for Learning teams with other education advocacy groups to create a statewide coalition to accelerate career and college readiness for all students, especially for low-income students and students of color. More than 40 organizations sign on to promote an ambitious, six-year “A+ Washington: A Way Forward for All Students” strategic plan. The plan’s five strategies are to: (1) Expand access to high-quality pre-Kindergarten to 3rd-grade education; (2) Ensure access to excellent teachers and leaders; (3) Position students for career and college readiness; (4) Implement flexible and transformative approaches to K-12 education; and (5) Develop effective data and accountability systems.

 

After Washington state places near the bottom in the U.S. Department of Education’s $4.35 billion “Race to the Top” grant competition, Partnership for Learning teams with other education advocacy groups to create Excellent Schools Now, a statewide coalition to accelerate career- and college-readiness for all students, especially for low-income students and students of color. More than 40 organizations sign on to promote an ambitious six-year strategic plan called “A+ Washington: A Way Forward for All Students.” The plan’s five strategies are to: (1) Expand access to high-quality pre-Kindergarten to 3rd-grade education; (2) Ensure access to excellent teachers and leaders; (3) Position students for career and college readiness; (4) Implement flexible and transformative approaches to K-12 education; and (5) Develop effective data and accountability systems.

24-Credit Career and College Readiness Framework Adopted

After extensive analysis and stakeholder engagement, the State Board of Education adopts a framework for Career- and College-Ready Graduation Requirements, including a 24-credit requirement. The board does not implement the entire framework due to concerns of its impact on state and district budgets.

After extensive analysis and stakeholder engagement, the State Board of Education adopts a framework for Career- and College-Ready Graduation Requirements, including a 24-credit requirement. The board does not implement the entire framework due to concerns of its impact on state and district budgets.

2009

WASL Replaced

Newly elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn announces plans to replace the Washington Assessment of Student Learning with redesigned assessments, the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) and the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE). Dorn also announces plans to migrate state testing to online assessments.

Newly elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn announces plans to replace the Washington Assessment of Student Learning with redesigned assessments, the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) and the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE). Dorn also announces plans to migrate state testing to online assessments.

2007

Improving Science Education

With support from Battelle / Pacific Northwest National Lab, PFL works with classroom teachers, curriculum specialists and science advocacy groups to analyze the state of science education in Washington and makes a series of recommendations for improvement. Some of the recommendations include recruiting more highly qualified science teachers, dedicating more classroom time to science education, building on existing high-quality science education partnerships, and advocating for science education with legislators and other policy-makers. Funding from Batelle also provides for the expansion of Washington's Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform, or LASER.

With support from Battelle / Pacific Northwest National Lab, PFL works with classroom teachers, curriculum specialists and science advocacy groups to analyze the state of science education in Washington and makes a series of recommendations for improvement. Some of the recommendations include recruiting more highly qualified science teachers, dedicating more classroom time to science education, building on existing high-quality science education partnerships, and advocating for science education with legislators and other policy-makers. Funding from Batelle also provides for the expansion of Washington's Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform, or LASER.

Improving the Odds

In conjunction with the College & Work Ready Agenda Coalition, PFL publishes “Improving the Odds: Preparing Washington Students for Family-Wage Jobs.” The report systematically refutes the notion that a high school diploma is sufficient to ensure a family-wage job or career opportunity. Instead, it demonstrates that some form of higher education – at a two- or four-year college, a technical school or a certificate program – is increasingly necessary to prepare students for career opportunities. The study is updated in 2011, incorporating the results of the Great Recession on the workforce market.

In conjunction with the College & Work Ready Agenda Coalition, PFL publishes “Improving the Odds: Preparing Washington Students for Family-Wage Jobs.” The report systematically refutes the notion that a high school diploma is sufficient to ensure a family-wage job or career opportunity. Instead, it demonstrates that some form of higher education – at a two- or four-year college, a technical school or a certificate program – is increasingly necessary to prepare students for career opportunities. The study is updated in 2011, incorporating the results of the Great Recession on the workforce market.

2006

What Is a High School Diploma?

The Washington state Legislature directs the State Board of Education to review the purpose and expectations of high school graduation. PFL and other organizations encourage the board to define the diploma in terms of college- and career-readiness.

The Washington state Legislature directs the State Board of Education to review the purpose and expectations of high school graduation. PFL and other organizations encourage the board to define the diploma in terms of college- and career-readiness.

2005

A+ Commission Disbands, State Board Enhanced

In an effort to streamline Washington’s educational governance system, the legislature disbands the A+ Commission and assigns its assessment and system accountability responsibilities to a newly reconstituted State Board of Education. The new board has gubernatorial appointees and is led by Seattle’s Mary Jean Ryan. In the coming years, PFL board member Jeff Vincent will take over chairmanship of the board.

In an effort to streamline Washington’s educational governance system, the legislature disbands the A+ Commission and assigns its assessment and system accountability responsibilities to a newly reconstituted State Board of Education. The new board has gubernatorial appointees and is led by Seattle’s Mary Jean Ryan. In the coming years, PFL board member Jeff Vincent will take over chairmanship of the board.

2004

Charter Schools Authorized, Then Rejected

Recognizing the potential of charter schools to bring innovative and effective educational models to Washington students, state legislators authorize their creation by passing ESSHB 2295. But charter school opponents, led by the Washington Education Association, file Referendum 55 to overturn the legislature’s action. Despite strong support from business and community leaders, including the endorsement of civil rights leader Rosa Parks, charter schools are defeated at the polls, 58 percent to 42 percent.

Recognizing the potential of charter schools to bring innovative and effective educational models to Washington students, state legislators authorize their creation by passing ESSHB 2295. But charter school opponents, led by the Washington Education Association, file Referendum 55 to overturn the legislature’s action. Despite strong support from business and community leaders, including the endorsement of civil rights leader Rosa Parks, charter schools are defeated at the polls, 58 percent to 42 percent.

2002

NCLB Implementation

Washington’s OSPI submits the state’s NCLB compliance plan to the federal Department of Education. Rather than maintain two separate and distinct accountability systems, the A+ Commission aligns Washington’s system to the federal requirements.

Washington’s OSPI submits the state’s NCLB compliance plan to the federal Department of Education. Rather than maintain two separate and distinct accountability systems, the A+ Commission aligns Washington’s system to the federal requirements.

2001

Campaign for Class of 2008

The state Legislature declares that the class of 2008 will be the first to be required to pass the state reading and math exams, known as the Washington Assessment for Student Learning (WASL), to be eligible for high school graduation. Recognizing the need to support educators in helping students and their families understand this new requirement, PFL teams with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) on an aggressive, statewide communications campaign. Lawmakers later adjust the graduation requirements to provide additional alternative means for students to demonstrate proficiency in these subjects.

The state Legislature declares that the class of 2008 will be the first to be required to pass the state reading and math exams, known as the Washington Assessment for Student Learning (WASL), to be eligible for high school graduation. Recognizing the need to support educators in helping students and their families understand this new requirement, PFL teams with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) on an aggressive, statewide communications campaign. Lawmakers later adjust the graduation requirements to provide additional alternative means for students to demonstrate proficiency in these subjects.

No Child Left Behind

In reauthorizing the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Congress adopts a series of school improvement goals and metrics known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Schools are expected to make progress toward a statewide “uniform bar” of student performance over a nine-year period and are to be evaluated based on whether they are making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) toward that goal. Additional goals are established for all significant socio-economic subgroups of students in the school, as well as for on-time graduation rates, dropout reduction, and teacher quality.

In reauthorizing the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Congress adopts a series of school improvement goals and metrics known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Schools are expected to make progress toward a statewide “uniform bar” of student performance over a nine-year period and are to be evaluated based on whether they are making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) toward that goal. Additional goals are established for all significant socio-economic subgroups of students in the school, as well as for on-time graduation rates, dropout reduction, and teacher quality.

1999

Washington School Improvement Goals

After extensive study and analysis, the A+ Commission establishes a series of improvement goals for Washington schools. The system is based on current student achievement levels, with schools expected to reduce the percentage of their students not reaching proficient scores on the assessments by 25 percent over a three-year period.

After extensive study and analysis, the A+ Commission establishes a series of improvement goals for Washington schools. The system is based on current student achievement levels, with schools expected to reduce the percentage of their students not reaching proficient scores on the assessments by 25 percent over a three-year period.

A+ Commission Created

With the state assessment created and in place, legislators created a new Academic Achievement and Accountability (A+) Commission responsible for setting passing scores on the WASL, establishing improvement goals for schools and districts, and developing a system of state rewards, support and intervention in local schools based on the performance of their students. Seattle banker Patrick Patrick is named the first chair of the A+ Commission.

With the state assessment created and in place, legislators created a new Academic Achievement and Accountability (A+) Commission responsible for setting passing scores on the WASL, establishing improvement goals for schools and districts, and developing a system of state rewards, support and intervention in local schools based on the performance of their students. Seattle banker Patrick Patrick is named the first chair of the A+ Commission.

1994

Partnership for Learning Launched

Recognizing that statewide efforts to raise expectations for all students would require a much higher level of community support and engagement, business and community leaders come together to launch Partnership for Learning (PFL). Boeing CEO Frank Shrontz and Lt. Governor Joel Pritchard are named the organization’s chair and president. PFL immediately begins a comprehensive program to help build public awareness and understanding of the need for higher educational standards and greater student achievement in order to ensure the success of Washington’s young people in the workplace and society of the future.

Recognizing that statewide efforts to raise expectations for all students would require a much higher level of community support and engagement, business and community leaders come together to launch Partnership for Learning (PFL). Boeing CEO Frank Shrontz and Lt. Governor Joel Pritchard are named the organization’s chair and president. PFL immediately begins a comprehensive program to help build public awareness and understanding of the need for higher educational standards and greater student achievement in order to ensure the success of Washington’s young people in the workplace and society of the future.

1993

Historic School Reform Legislation Passed

The state Legislature passes House Bill 1209, which calls for a comprehensive, statewide student assessment system. The Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) is to be state’s measure that compares students to an established standard rather than against the performance of their peers. Subjects to be tested periodically tested throughout students’ K-12 careers include reading, writing, listening, math, science, social studies, arts, and health and fitness. State exams will be phased in over time and not all will be used for high school graduation requirements. All, however,  are intended to help measure school performance. Many of the initially planned assessments are delayed or dropped altogether.

The state Legislature passes House Bill 1209, which calls for a comprehensive, statewide student assessment system. The Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) is to be state’s measure that compares students to an established standard rather than against the performance of their peers. Subjects to be tested periodically tested throughout students’ K-12 careers include reading, writing, listening, math, science, social studies, arts, and health and fitness. State exams will be phased in over time and not all will be used for high school graduation requirements. All, however,  are intended to help measure school performance. Many of the initially planned assessments are delayed or dropped altogether.

1992

Commission on Student Learning

Legislation (SSB 5953) creates the Commission on Student Learning (CSL) to identify Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs), develop strategies to assist educators in helping students master these learning objectives, develop a statewide student assessment system to measure student and school performance, establish a “certificate of mastery” that would demonstrate that high school graduates were proficient in these basic subjects, and recommend the time and support that schools and districts would need. Future State Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson is hired to be the CSL staff director. Statewide community meetings, led by Partnership for Learning, followed.

Legislation (SSB 5953) creates the Commission on Student Learning (CSL) to identify Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs), develop strategies to assist educators in helping students master these learning objectives, develop a statewide student assessment system to measure student and school performance, establish a “certificate of mastery” that would demonstrate that high school graduates were proficient in these basic subjects, and recommend the time and support that schools and districts would need. Future State Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson is hired to be the CSL staff director. Statewide community meetings, led by Partnership for Learning, followed.

1991

Governor's Commission Recommendations

After the state Legislature fails to adopt statewide education reform legi

After the state Legislature fails to adopt statewide education reform legi

Frank Shrontz Speech

Boeing Chairman and CEO Frank Shrontz stunned regional leaders by publicly suggesting the company might be forced to look elsewhere for locations to produce its next-generation products. Shrontz cites a national study finding that 60 percent of Americans in their 20s lack reading and writing skills to be productive, while 90 percent lack required math skills. "Our economic competitiveness for the future depends on a workforce sufficiently well-grounded in ... reading, writing and arithmetic to handle the requirements of new processes being implemented," he said.

Boeing Chairman and CEO Frank Shrontz stunned regional leaders by publicly suggesting the company might be forced to look elsewhere for locations to produce its next-generation products. Shrontz cites a national study finding that 60 percent of Americans in their 20s lack reading and writing skills to be productive, while 90 percent lack required math skills. "Our economic competitiveness for the future depends on a workforce sufficiently well-grounded in ... reading, writing and arithmetic to handle the requirements of new processes being implemented," he said.

A Vision for the Future

Over the past 20 years, Washington’s education system has made great strides in its ability to prepare students for their future work and life. However, global competition and technological innovation continue to accelerate at an astonishing rate. If we are to close the state’s persistent skills and achievement gaps — between rich and poor and students of color and whites — in the coming years, schools must continually improve, enhancing their capacity for helping students meet the challenges of the future.

As Partnership for Learning looks ahead, we believe that there is still much work to be done, building on past accomplishments and with a clear vision for the future.

1. Commitment to High Standards and 21st Century Skills

Regardless of their income level, gender, ethnicity, or career aspirations, every student deserves a 21st Century education.
In Washington, nearly 70% of jobs will require some type of post-secondary education by 2020. And, given that Washington leads the nation in the concentration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) jobs, it’s critical that students have a strong foundation in the STEM disciplines. Washington’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards demonstrate that we are serious about identifying what students need to know to succeed.

Our work is to ensure that teachers understand and are adequately prepared to align their instruction to these standards and that student assessments are structured to confirm that students have acquired this critical knowledge. Everyone — from policy-makers to the general public — should develop an understanding about what must be done to help students reach these rigorous standards, rather than accepting current performance levels and adjusting standards to meet them.

2. Continuous Innovation

Washington students should have equal access to innovative instruction models that motivate those with different learning styles, deliver a high-quality educational experience and increase high school completion rates. Educational experts agree that yesterday’s “one size fits all” education model can’t effectively deal with the increasingly diverse needs of today’s students. Such innovative models should include specialized magnet schools, alternative career-oriented schools, high quality public charter schools, blended learning models that marry traditional high school classwork with on-line or college-level instruction, and programs that provide real-world work experiences to extend classroom learning. Additionally, students should receive individualized support and counseling to help them find the innovative models that are best suited to their learning styles.

3. Accurate Measures of Performance

Our educational leaders and law makers should adopt systems that help Washingtonians honestly assess how our students are doing, and make the necessary changes in our schools to meet students’ needs. It is important to clarify the challenges facing our students and our schools, but it is more important that we take positive action to address district, school, and student performance. And, as a state, we must communicate clear expectations and give the necessary tools to do the job, but we owe it to the students to make the hard decisions to change what isn’t working in our schools.

Washington’s commitment to the use of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia, a suite of assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards, will help measure student achievement and ensure students are prepared for the next phase of their lives.

4. Higher Education Participation and Success

The vast majority of family-wage jobs in the 21st Century will require some form of education or training beyond high school. Students need to understand the ongoing education required to pursue their career interests, as well as the limited opportunities they’ll have without such additional post-secondary training. As their interest grows, students should have access to adequate financial aid and other supports to ensure that their financial situations do not prevent them from pursuing higher education. Finally, Washingtonians must ensure that workforce training, industry certification, and associate, bachelor and advanced degree programs all are aligned to the fast-moving economy of the 21st Century.

Education has always been the great equalizer in our society. But in the knowledge-driven economy awaiting the students of today and tomorrow, it is even more critical to their prospects for a rewarding career and meaningful engagement in society. Partnership for Learning remains committed to helping Washington schools prepare Washington students for their futures.

5. An Accountable, Seamless System

From early learning to post-graduate studies, Washington’s educational leaders, front-line educators, and law makers must ensure that every element of the Washington education system works seamlessly together. Washington state’s leaders must clearly lay out the expectations for each link in the education chain, ensuring that each level of the system prepares students to take the next step. And, through each link in education chain, it critical that Washington state’s leaders implement K-12 accountability measures that gauge student achievement and system performance through students’ transitions into post-secondary training and education programs. Performance indicators throughout the education system will shine a bright light on the performance of our system. Doing so will help students achieve their goals more quickly, while also eliminating the wasteful duplication of resources.

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