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Washington Revises School Accountability Plan With Feedback From Education Department

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
In this Feb. 6, 2013 photo, kindergarteners at Campbell Hill Elementary in Renton play a letter bingo game.

Washington state is moving closer to adopting a new system for tracking school quality and student progress. The state superintendent’s office has gotten feedback on its plan from the federal Department of Education and will submit its revised version on Thursday. 

States have to turn in these accountability plans to the federal government to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced the No Child Left Behind law.

Washington’s plan sets out different metrics that go beyond test scores to understand whether some groups of students are falling behind. It will track things such as attendance, graduation rates and whether 9th graders are on track.

Michaela Miller, deputy superintendent in the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, said once it receives approval, the accountability system will give families and communities a better window into assessing how well schools are doing. Under the plan, districts will have a bit more leeway in how they address kids’ needs.

"One of the big flexibility pieces that I think our districts are anxious and we are anxious to use is this idea of using federal and state funds in ways that are more creative to support students," Miller said.

Miller said the Department of Education asked for relatively few changes compared with other states.

The department did ask the state to provide more information on how it will address the needs of migrant children. For example, the Department of Education asked the state to explain how it will serve migrant preschoolers and migrant kids who drop out. 

There are federal dollars that go toward helping migrant kids in school. 

The department also requested the state flesh out how it will track English language acquisition for kids who are non-native speakers.

“Our state is taking steps to add more specific goals around that, so how districts and particular schools are doing around measuring the progress of their English learners," Miller said.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.