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Final day of Legislative session results in major loss for Title I schools

The final day of 2014 Legislative session in Washington state resulted in a big win for all students with the passage of the College and Career Ready Diploma bill and a major loss for Title I schools and the low-income students they serve.

The House (93-5) and Senate (45-2) resoundingly passed Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 6552, which authorizes the 24-credit Career & College Ready Diploma and more closely aligns Washington state's graduation requirements with college-entrance requirements.

The education policy and advocacy group, Partnership for Learning explains on its website that SB 6552 not only authorizes a new 24-credit high school diploma beginning with the class of 2019, but also addresses instructional hours, calls for the development of career and technical courses equivalencies and reallocates $97 million in the budget for science labs, high school counselors and materials, supplies and operating costs to assist districts in implementing the new diploma.

Partnership for Learning, also says the 24-credit diploma has been a long been a priority of the State Board of Education, Washington Roundtable, Partnership for Learning and Excellent Schools Now coalition.

However, the state Legislature left Olympia without making a one-word change in current law, from “may” to “must" that would've required districts to use student growth scores in teacher and principal evaluations. That change would have allowed Washington to keep its federal waiver from No Child Left Behind requirements.

Now, many districts will likely lose control of $44 million in federal funds meant for the state's neediest students and all Title I schools (nearly 1,000) will be considered in “need of improvement,” or failing.

Gov. Jay Inslee, State Superintendent Randy Dorn and numerous district superintendents lobbied lawmakers to make the change in law.

 

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