2011 Citizens Report Card on WA State Education

From the League of Education Voters:

The past two years have seen historic advances in education policy. The Race to the Top initiative, along with other federal grants, has driven huge change nationwide, from the way teachers are evaluated to the standards we teach and the way kids are assessed. Our own state took huge steps (for us) to catch up and compete with the rest of the nation. While all of this is good news, the downside is what we learned about our own state’s readiness and commitment to improving achievement for all kids — we still don’t measure up when it comes to the fundamentals.

In our last Report Card, we wrote that whether we make progress will come down to our collective will to do the things that matter. Invest in early learning; make sure kids read by third grade; focus on cutting our dropout rates. Well, we didn’t do those things. Our reading scores have flatlined. We are near the bottom of national rankings for college-going, we are one of nine states where the achievement gap is actually growing, our graduation rates are in the bottom third, and a full 18 points behind the national leader. While our SAT scores rank us at the top, the test is voluntary, taken by kids intent on going to college. The good news: for kids who believe they’re going to college — mostly White, affluent, or Asian kids — we do pretty well. For everybody else, we don’t prepare them for much of anything.

Kids who can’t read by third grade don’t catch up. Eighth grade proficiency in math is a key contributor to whether kids go on and succeed in college. Students who spend their first year of college taking the courses they should have mastered in high school don’t return for their second year. Data are clear on these things. Our state’s plan for education needs to be equally clear in its focus.

So, what to do? We keep at it. We focus. We prioritize. We work together with unusual partners. We take on new strategies. LEV cut its teeth on evidence-based advocacy, and we remain true to those roots today. And finally — and most importantly — we put kids first, and we tell the truth.

Click this link to see the full report card: http://www.educationvoters.org/2011-report-card/


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