January 17, 2013



Opinion: Real education reform means creating seamless P-20 system    





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3-Year Gates Study: Measuring Effective Teaching Is Possible  

A three-year study of effective teaching released last week by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation revealed that multiple measures and classroom observations by two observers provides the most accurate measures for rating teachers.


The Gates study, part of the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project, included 3,000 volunteer teachers, seven school districts, and 21 evaluation model and/or research partner institutions. The study, "Ensuring Fair and Reliable Measures of Effective Teaching," addresses how to best use classroom observation tools, student perception surveys and student achievement gains.


Overall, the MET study found:

  1. effective teaching is measurable;
  2. balanced scores from multiple measures of effective teaching, reflected in a composite indicator, best represent effective teaching; and
  3. the most "trustworthy" classroom observations are those that include two or more observations and two observers, one of whom is from outside a teacher's school.


The MET findings come at an important time as Washington's school districts are beginning to implement the state's new teacher and principal evaluation system. The rules associated with the new system are currently under consideration. In addition, outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire recently introduced legislation to provide additional school staff to better manage the evaluation system. 


Related: Excellent Schools Now letter to State Superintendent Randy Dorn on teacher evaluation rules, and letter from Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to state Legislature.


OSPI proposes changes to testing requirements  

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn will soon introduce legislation to reduce the number of state exams required for graduation for the class of 2015 and beyond. Dorn, in anticipation of the 2014 phase-in of the math and English-language arts Common Core State Standards and aligned assessments, is proposing to reduce the exams from five (reading, writing, biology, algebra I and geometry) to three (reading, biology and algebra I).


Last week, the State Board of Education (SBE) grappled with this issue, concurring with Dorn that students should be required to pass end-of-course exams to earn a diploma. Both the SBE and Dorn also expressed concern about focusing resources on biology, and away from other core sciences, because of the biology exam.


The Common Core high school exams will be given in 11th grade. The passing standard will be higher as students will be required to demonstrate college- and career-readiness proficiency. The 11th grade exam, however, is not under consideration to become a "high school exit exam." A September 2012 report from Center on Education Policy (CEP) report covers how the 25 states with exit exams are handling the transition to the Common Core assessments.


As state lawmakers debate how to solve the state's education funding issues on the heels of McCleary v State Supreme Court decision, the cost of testing will be one of the key issues. Many policy makers and reform advocates, such as Partnership for Learning, the Washington Roundtable, and the Excellent Schools Now coalition, are calling for a stronger link between public education funding and a more comprehensive system of educator, school, and district accountability for student results.



The 2013 state Legislature convened Monday with the Senate wrangling for control of committees and leadership. The Partnership has posted House and Senate education committee assignments, and session calendars can be found here. Also, Jay Inslee was sworn in as Washington's 23rd governor Wednesday. His primary remarks about education centered on finding new funding without raising taxes. 

EXCELLENT SCHOOLS NOW RELEASES 2013 LEG PRIORITIES  The Excellent Schools Now coalition released its 2013 legislative priorities Tuesday, focusing on increased education funding and building more accountability into the K-12 system.The Partnership for Learning, League of Education Voters and Stand for Children Washington are lead members in the nearly 40-member coalition.



Draft rules for the state's first public charter schools were released Thursday. The State Board of Education met last week to review the draft rules for the state's first public charter schools. Jana Carlisle, executive director of Partnership for Learning, is working on quality implementation as a leader of the Washington Coalition for Public Schools.  


Partnership for Learning is a statewide nonprofit that informs and mobilizes opinion leaders, educators, parents and the general public in order to improve our public schools and better prepare our high school graduates for the demands of today's global society.

Learn more about Washington's school improvement efforts at our Website:  


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