According to the College Board, the number of Washington students taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams has increased 123 percent in the last 10 years.
More than 30,000 Washington students were listed as homeless in the 2012-13 school year, according to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. These numbers are up for the sixth year in a row.
More than 10,000 students in Washington dropped out of high school during the 2012-13 school year. That’s a 13 percent dropout rate. This equals 57 students each academic day.
The American Indian student dropout rate continues to exceed any other minority group.
However, foster-care students here drop out of high school more than any other identified group.
The majority of teachers in Washington are white. In 2001-02, 90.9 percent of school staff in the state was white. In 2011-2012, 88.5 percent of the staff was white.
154,445 people work for Washington public schools. That’s about 2.2 percent of the state’s population.
While the number of students attending private schools fell from the 2011-12 school year to the 2012-13 school year, the number of home-schooled students rose.
In 2010, Washington ranked 43rd in per-student spending. Vermont ranked first with $18,924 per student, and Washington fell to the bottom tier with $9,145 per student.
Schools are growing more diverse. In 2002-03 72.5 percent of students were white. In 2012-13 59.2 percent of students were white.
Source: Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
Graphics by Alex Schloer
Most Washington Schools are Failing? Not Really.
Washington was the first state to lose its No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver in late April. The waiver allows school districts to bypass the outdated criteria of the federal law if they abide by the regulations of the waiver. In order to keep the waiver, teacher evaluations must take into account student state test scores. The U.S. Department of Education revoked Washington’s waiver after lawmakers ruled in favor of the Teacher’s Union to not include the state test scores in evaluations. Parents also voiced concerns that kids were experiencing “testing fatigue” and there was too much emphasis on test scores. Now, about $38 million will be taken from Title I, which provides programs to low-income students, and put toward private tutoring and other academic help. Unfortunately, 2014 is the year when 100 percent of students are required to test proficiently under NCLB or be considered failing. Because almost all schools don’t have 100 percent proficiency, the state is required to send letters home to parents explaining that their child’s school is failing. Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn estimated in an NPR interview that about 90 percent of Washington schools will be required to send out that letter. However, most everyone agrees that the majority of schools aren’t really failing and that NCLB is out of date. Dorn plans to go back to the Legislature and argue to adjust the state law and obtain the waiver. Sen. Patty Murray said she hopes to update the federal law in Congress. Other states are likely to lose their waivers, as well.
Common Core App
Students, parents and teachers can track student progress and performance on the Common Core Standards app, available free on iTunes.
Getting a Bilingual Education
The French Immersion School of Washington (FISW) in Bellevue is an accredited school that offers a bilingual education experience for children in preschool through fifth grade. Led by certified teachers, the FISW curriculum is taught in French 75 percent of the day and 25 percent in English. FISW students also attend cultural events and field to trips to enhance their learning experience.
How to Save for College
GET (Guaranteed Education Tuition) helps Washington families save for college while tuition costs continue to rise. A GET account is guaranteed to increase at the same pace as rising tuition. A GET account can be used at nearly all public and private colleges in the country.
A Microsoft Innovative School
St. Thomas School (STS) incorporates modern technology into a rigorous program centered on developing passions for learning, leadership and character. In 2014, STS was one of five schools in the U.S. named a Microsoft Innovative School. STS features 1:1 laptop and Surface tablet programs for students to produce videos, write book reviews and complete other projects.
LessonTrek for Teachers
LessonTrek is an online lesson-planning application for teachers and homeschool parents. The application features a grade tracker and lesson planner with easy drag-and-drop features and a color-coding system.
Photo by Andrew Mechling
Where are the Charter Schools?
By Lauren Foster
In November 2012, voters narrowly passed Initiative 1240 to allow public charter schools. But questions are still circling about the schools and when they’ll open. Here’s a brief rundown of what they are and their progress so far.
What is a charter school?
A charter school is a publicly funded school that’s operated independently of public districts. Charter schools receive the same state and federal funding as public schools but have more liberty to develop their own academic programs. They are all free.
Is it hard to start a charter school in Washington?
The law allows for Washington to have 40 public charter schools over the next five years. Nineteen nonprofits sent in applications, and the state commission approved eight of them — the max number allowed this year.
What schools were approved?
-First Place Scholars Seattle, fall 2015
-Excel Public Charter School Kent, fall 2015
-Green Dot Charter Middle School Tacoma, fall 2015
-PRIDE Prep Spokane, fall 2015
-Rainier Prep Highline, fall 2015
-SOAR Academy, Tacoma, fall 2015
-Summit Public Schools — Olympus Tacoma, fall 2015
-Summit Public Schools — Sierra Seattle, fall 2015
What if a charter school isn’t successful?
Charter schools can be closed if they fail to meet the standards required of public schools.
How do I enroll my child?
Most charter schools will open in 2015. However, many will start enrolling students this fall. Go to Washington State Charter Schools Association to learn more.