Even before the CCSS emphasized the importance of college and career readiness, educators recognized the importance of a high school diploma. Washington State’s graduation rate has been stagnant for the past three years at about 76 percent. More effort is required to reach those students who drop out each year. Districts need additional resources to implement comprehensive guidance and counseling programs, provide targeted interventions to at-risk youth, and to continue to build their capacity to use data to inform student achievement plans.
“There are many reasons students drop out of school,” according to State Superintendent Randy Dorn. “If we want to reduce the dropout rate, we must focus increased attention on the specific needs of our most vulnerable students.”
In a move to reduce the dropout rate in Washington State, the House Education Committee heard House Bill 1864, which would provide intensive, evidence-based supports to struggling students, including those with substance abuse and mental health issues. Another aid will be the funds now available for low- income students who are eligible for Advance Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and Cambridge Capstone program exams, according to the US Department of Education.
A bill requested by State Superintendent Randy Dorn that would ensure students graduate with technology skills is making its way through the Legislature. House Bill 1492was heard today at a public hearing by the House Education Committee. The bill requires students to show their proficiency by passing a technology literacy and fluency test, to be developed by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, or completing a culminating project “or other substantively equivalent methods.”
Accompanying the bill is Dorn’s budget request for $139 million in 2015-17. The money will increase student allocations for technology and fund staff support to update technology learning standards so that they align with existing state standards.
Recently six Washington schools, known as STEM Lighthouse Schools, were awarded $20,000 grants each that will promote and develop STEM education, including technical assistance and advice for other elementary, middle, and high schools that are creating their own STEM environments. The STEM schools provide small and highly personalized learning communities, examples of an interdisciplinary curriculum, and active partnerships with businesses and the local community in order to connect learning beyond the classroom.
The awardees are:
· East Farms Elementary, East Valley (Spokane) School District
· Martin Sortun Elementary, Kent School District
· Saghalie Middle School, Federal Way School District
· Spokane Valley Tech, Central Valley (Spokane) School District
· Vancouver iTech Prep, Vancouver School District
· Weyerhaeuser Elementary, Eatonville School District
Congratulations to these schools and the efforts being made to reach all students with improved learning opportunities in all literacies.