A+ Washington: Strategies to Help Students Succeed
Each and every child deserves high quality public schools with great teachers who push them to reach their potential—no matter where they live, or who their parents are.
It is getting harder to get a job without a postsecondary degree, yet more than one in four high school students do not graduate on time—and those rates are even worse for low-income and students of color. Nearly half of two-year college students need remedial work, shelling out college tuition for high school level classes.
This is why Excellent Schools Now, a group of dedicated parents, teachers, principals, community members and advocates created A+ Washington: A Way Forward for All Students. ESN efforts are led by League of Education Voters, Partnership for Learning, Schools Out Washington, Stand for Children and Tabor 100.
Founded in the belief that we should and can do more for our students, A+ Washington is a road map to transform education in our state. The plan provides educators, parents, and community members with systems and support needed to better serve our children.
A+ Washington builds on what is already working here and in communities across the country. A+ Washington offers solutions and big ideas that add up to a bright future—where every student gets what they need to succeed in work and in life.
A+ Washington is built on strategies to ensure that students start school ready to learn, graduate from high school and continue preparing for success in the workplace and in life. The strategies spark change in Washington’s public education system, to be implemented over a six-year period.
Strategy #1: Expand Access to High-Quality Pre-K through 3rd Grade
Investment in early education can yield powerful results for children, in short term performance and in longer term educational success. Major research studies have shown that children who participate in high-quality, aligned pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade learning have lower rates of special education referral and fewer behavioral issues, together with higher overall school attendance, improved test scores, higher graduation and college participation rates, and lower rates of incarceration. By investing in early education, we will focus more on prevention and acceleration than on intervention and remediation, and help children become significantly more successful in their adult lives.
Strategy #2: Provide All Students with Access to Excellent Teachers and Leaders
Washington can improve student outcomes by improving the quality of instruction in classrooms, particularly for the state’s low-income students and students of color. Effective educators are the key to student success and we need to support them to be their very best. We need strong systems and practices for attracting, training, supporting, assigning, and compensating educators. And, we need to use data to inform and improve instruction in our classrooms.
Strategy #3: Position Students for Career and College Readiness
Excellent schools have a culture of high expectations that is rooted in the belief that all children can achieve at high levels. It means that every student should be enrolled and succeeding in college- and career-prep coursework and that schools and communities will provide the supports needed for students to be successful.
Strategy #4: Implement Flexible and Transformative Approaches to K-12
School leaders need flexibility to staff buildings and to create instructional models that best fit their students, while being held accountable for results. This flexibility includes opportunities to offer a longer school day/year when needed, to offer instruction through a various methods, to exert greater control over budget decisions, and to use transparent accountability systems that identify strengths and areas in need of improvement.
Strategy #5: Develop Effective Data and Accountability Systems
It’s a truism that what gets measured gets managed. Washington needs improved data systems that integrate early learning, K-12, higher education, and workforce data, as well as new approaches to effectively communicate those results to educators, parents, and the community. New methods and tools are also needed to hold schools accountable for student achievement, especially in low performing schools.
Download a copy of the A+ Washington Plan, or read our 2014 progress report.