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Reforms needed to improve schools

State Board of Education lays out priorities


Last updated 1/1/2020 at 5:44pm

Chris Reykdal speaks to the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.

When State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal spoke last fall to the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association, he praised the Legislature for improving school funding.

But Reykdal warned, while more money is targeted toward programs and teacher salaries, the additional funding didn't alter the system that delivers education.

Doing that, he said, will require a number of reforms.

The State Board of Education recently laid out its recommendation for system wide reforms. They include:

• Expand access to affordable, high-quality early childhood education for all of Washington's children, particularly children of color and children in poverty.

• Improve early learning and transitions within the K-12 continuum. Maintain 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.

• Promote programs and policies that enable and encourage meaningful family and community engagement at every level of the education system.

• Develop a statewide framework for school safety and mental health to provide all schools with access to mental health professionals in schools. Shift the focus of discipline to an integrated system that keeps youth engaged in school and out of the juvenile justice system. Strengthen current high school health learning standards to include information on mental health relevant to students and improve mental health instruction in K-12.

• 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. Increase investments and professional development to address the needs of diverse learners including expansion of dual language and immersion programs beginning in elementary school and continuing through high school. Encourage intentional consideration of culturally-responsive, flexible calendars and scheduling and alternatives to the traditional 180-day calendar. Recruit and retain 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 additional professional development opportunities for educators and administrators.

• 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. Fully fund dual credit programs in all subject areas to eliminate disparities related to cost.

• Provide funding to recruit and retain teachers, staff, and school leaders to reflect the diversity of the school and community. Provide adequate state funding for school and district facilities and changing the capital funding threshold to require a simple majority for passage of bonds.


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