SEATTLE - The League of Education Voters says Washington state deserves a C-minus average for the way it educates students.
The report card released this week by the group shows the state is losing ground in some areas, including college and career preparation, and student achievement in math, science and engineering.
The report also points out that Washington is one of nine states where the achievement gap between children of different races is growing.
Officials of the education advocacy group say the state needs a stronger commitment to adequately pay for education in Washington and improve the quality of the state’s education system.
“Our state is going backward in our commitment to kids and public education,” said Lisa Macfarlane, co-founder of the League of Education Voters Foundation, in a statement.
Last February, King County Superior Court Judge John Erlick ruled that the state of Washington isn’t fully paying for basic public education, a violation of its constitutional duty. The lawsuit brought by a coalition of school districts, parents and community groups has been appealed to the Washington Supreme Court. A ruling is expected late this spring.
The governor, the superintendent of public instruction and lawmakers in both the Democrat and Republican parties said before the Legislature convened on Monday that they will continue to work toward the state’s education reform goals despite the economy and a projected budget deficit.
The report does acknowledge the progress Washington policy makers have made in education reform, inspired by the federal Race to the Top competition. The best grades are for the state’s investment in early learning and for State Board of Education’s work to improve Washington’s high school diploma.
For kids who know they are going to college, the state does pretty well, the report says. “For everybody else, we don’t prepare them for much of anything,” it says.
The League of Education Voters is sending copies of the report to parents, educators and policy makers during the first week of the 2011 Legislature.
Meanwhile, a national report also released this week gives Washington a slightly better grade – a C average – for its education system.
Education Week’s Quality Counts report says Washington has problems with college readiness. The national report also targets equity in student achievement and building its teaching corps.
The magazine gives Washington better grades for its education standards, student tests and equity in the way it distributes school dollars.
OSPI spokesman Nate Olson said he agrees with the conclusions of the two reports and that the national report reiterates something Superintendent Randy Dorn has said before.