Saturday, August 2, 2008

2008 OSPI Summer Institute

OSPI had its Summer Institute in Tacoma this past week. In previous years, there was more than one Institute; however, with the professional development associated with the new math standards, money was funneled toward that end.

Terry Bergeson spoke both Tuesday and Wednesday morning. Here are a few highlights from what she shared:
  • The State Board of Education (SBE) is preparing some recommendations regarding graduation requirements (Core 24) for the 2009 legislative session. As part of this package, funding needs will be identified. If the legislature does not make the necessary financial commitment, SBE will not move forward with its recommendations. In other words, there will be no unfunded mandates for schools.
  • Speaking of funding, Terry has been working with the Basic Education Task Force to shape reform in this area. Details were not available, but three key areas were identified. First, the formula for foundation support (transportation, teacher pay, instructional materials...) needs to change. There also needs to be identified funding for student programs and supporting educators. Stay tuned for more info in the fall. Terry is very keen on doing something about the need to match our resources with our values for schools.
  • The full math standards (k - 12) have now been approved and preliminary results regarding the three curricula for each school level (elementary, middle, high) will be available mid-August. Information on supplemental materials will be available at some point in the near future. Terry is also asking for a budget package to support schools who will need to purchase new materials.
  • The high school dropout rate in Washington has been ~21% over the last four years. Indications are that the rate will be about the same for the Class of 2008, even with all of the new graduation requirements. It appears that graduation rates will be improving in the next few years. Ninth grade is a pivotal year, and the rate has already changed from 5.1% to 3.7%. We are getting more students to the finish line---and with a more meaningful diploma in their hands.
  • Native American students have the lowest graduation rate: only 48.9% are finishing high school (about 1500 kids). Asian/Pacific Islanders have the highest graduation rate with 76.4% completing high school. The average of all groups is 72.5%. This includes students who either finish early or finish late.
Considering all of the upcoming changes in math and science, possible credit requirements for graduation, funding needs (in a time of recession), and NCLB backlash, the next legislative session should prove to be a critical one for Washington schools. Hang on for a wild ride.

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