The Excellent Schools Now (ESN) Coalition is thrilled to welcome Reading Partners as a member! Read more about their work to build strong literacy skills for all kids.
The Excellent Schools Now (ESN) Coalition is encouraged by the results from the state's first Smarter Balanced assessments. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) released statewide test results this morning.
The scores represent a new baseline that provides a more accurate indicator for educators, students, and parents. The scores should not be used as an apples-to-apples comparison to former state tests (e.g., MSP and HSPE). The results will improve as students have additional years of instruction aligned to the new Washington State Standards.
It is vital to our state's economy that we have more students better prepared for college, work, and life. We have an increasing job skills gap in Washington that needs to be addressed, and these scores are a key indicator that we are moving toward the goal.
We applaud Washington's K-12 teachers, who have worked hard to implement the state’s new learning standards. Without a quality measurement tool, like Smarter Balanced, we would not know how well our students are learning the standards. This is a big change for teachers and students.
While we are pleased with these test participation rates in grades 3-8, we are disappointed in the high test-refusal rate in the 11th grade. High test refusal primarily penalizes the students who need the most supports to increase their achievement.
Overall, we are pleased with this baseline year of results from the Smarter Balanced Math and English Language Arts assessments. We know our state's teachers will continue the hard work necessary to ensure all students graduate from high school ready for college and career.
By Josefina Hellensberg
Last year, the Breakfast Group won the Washington Association of School Administrators Regional Community Leadership Award by Seattle Public Schools for their work on the Project M.I.S.T.E.R. Program and their efforts to improve education opportunities in the district.
The Breakfast Group is a local Seattle organization that is the oldest (non-fraternity) all male African American organization in the Northwest United States. The Breakfast Group is comprised of a group of prominent African American leaders in Seattle, dedicated to mentoring and addressing the challenges of at-risk youth of color with a focus on black males.
The mission of the organization is to provide support and assistance for low-income youth of color in completing their secondary education and accessing higher education or employment after high school as they move forward with determination and integrity toward adulthood. The organization takes a well-rounded approach to mentoring, with members coming from a wide range of fields, including: education, business, public service, politics, law, medicine, entrepreneurship, science, and technology.
The Breakfast Group is very involved in improving education and holds memberships in a number of coalitions, including Excellent Schools Now, Our Schools Coalition, the Black Education Strategy Roundtable, and the Leaders of Communities of Color for Education Excellence.
As part of their dedication to supporting at-risk youth of color, the Breakfast Group annually hosts two great events, the Tie-One-On Luncheon and the All Achievers Awards Ceremony.
This year, the Tie-One-On Luncheon was held on April 10. It was the 24th event of its kind. At the luncheon, students are paired with a member of the business or professional community, and enjoy a lunch together while exchanging business cards to encourage future contact and mentoring.
Students are gifted with a necktie and dress shirt to help prepare them for their future endeavors, and the luncheon is concluded with a rite of passage where mentors teach their mentee to tie the necktie.
This year's luncheon celebrated about 80 young men from all the Seattle High Schools, of which some have successfully completed the Project M.I.S.T.E.R. Program. Dr. James B. Smith, Education Committee Chairman at the Breakfast Group, calls this year's luncheon "very successful": "We had about 280 people attend the luncheon and we received a lot of positive feedback. To be honest, the events just get better each year. The greatest testament to the success of the luncheon is the fact that attendees feel strongly enough about our work to contribute additional funds. Without a doubt, these contributions will help change the lives of the young adults we support."
Coming up this May, the Breakfast Group will host their 21st annual All Achievers Awards Ceremony. "This is an annual event where we recognize the male students who are doing the right thing, but not necessarily getting the recognition for it. By celebrating small victories, we hope to encourage these young men to continue to do the right thing," says Darryl Russell, Vice President of the Breakfast Group.
The approximately 80 young men who will be recognized in this year's ceremony have been nominated by their school counselor for demonstrating sound judgment and commendable progress.
Reflecting on the impact this ceremony has, Darryl Russell tells a story of a proud mother: "She was so proud of her son for his accomplishments and wanted to make the All Achievers Awards Ceremony special for him. She dressed herself and her family up in beautiful evening wear and surprised her son by renting a limousine to take them to and from the event. As they were leaving the event, her son approached me and thanked me and the organization for the recognition, and told me how pleased he was to have made his mother so proud. It is stories like these that make everything we do so worth it."
This year's ceremony will take place on Sunday, May 17, at the Paul Robeson Performing Arts Center at Rainier Beach High School.
Learn more about the Breakfast Group on their website at http://www.thebreakfastgroup.org/.
The Excellent Schools Now Coalition thanks Washington's U.S. Senator Patty Murray for standing strong for all students – in Washington and nationally.
Senator Murray, a Democrat, is the ranking member of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee. She is working across the aisle with Republican Chairman Lamar Alexander (TN) to craft a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education (ESEA) Act, which was last updated under President Bush as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.
While some components of NCLB raised significant concerns for educators and education stakeholders, the requirement to disaggregate student achievement data by race and income level was a game changer.
We all know we can't close gaps that we can't see.
And Washington's gaps are continuing to grow. With NCLB, for the first time, schools and communities could point to the gaps in student achievement and the subgroups of students being left behind.
While some advocates may believe that this level of transparency is enough, the Excellent Schools Now Coalition knows that we must hold all schools and their students to the same high learning standards and provide supports for them to reach those standards. Every student deserves to be well served in their school and prepared to graduate from high school college and career ready.
Thank you Senator Murray for working hard for all our students!
The Excellent Schools Now (ESN) Coalition Steering Committee submitted a letter to the State Board of Education on behalf of ESN today regarding setting a cut score for graduation on the high school Smarter Balanced Assessments
and related issues.
In the letter, the ESN Steering Committee stated support for the following principles:
By Norman Alston, President, eMODE Learning Foundation
Thirty-two students gathered for eMODE's Math Academy on Saturday, October 11, and received a scary lesson on measurement and proportions using the "skeleton" of the giant, Robert Wadlow, currently on exhibit at Seattle's Pacific Science Center. This skeletal replica is to scale, 8 feet, 11 inches, or 2.72 m tall!!!
Students are beginning a semester-long series of lessons on the origin of measurement. They are learning how body measures such as a foot, cubit, and span led to standardization of customary units of measure. However, later students will learn to use the metric system, and they are already building an understanding of the relationship of inches to centimeters (1 to 2.54).
Last year, the Excellent Schools Now (ESN) Coalition steering committee awarded Powerful Schools and Afrique Service Center a 13-month grant to raise awareness and support for ESN's A+ Washington Plan and ESN's mission among underrepresented individuals, groups, communities, constituencies, and organizations.
The Afrique Service Center's mission is to promote social justice and equal access for Washington refugees, immigrants, and minorities through family advocacy, domestic violence prevention, gang intervention, cultural and education awareness, tutoring, and referral services.
Powerful Schools, which recently merged with the YMCA, works to reduce the achievement gap by partnering with public schools to help children thrive.
ESN awarded the grant to Afrique Service Center so that they could partner with Powerful Schools to:
Reflecting on the year, League of Education Voters CEO Chris Korsmo said, "We were pleased to have the Afrique Service Center involved with the ESN Coalition, and I am pleased that ESN was able to support their work. The Afrique Service Center's active participation in ESN events, including the 2014 Annual Legislative Luncheon, brought a new and powerful perspective to the table and ensured that ESN considered the needs of all students in developing their priorities for the 2015 legislative session."
The Afrique Service Center Director Mohamed Sheikh Hassan says that the work with ESN has been "transformative" for the community members they work with: "Many of the members of our community are single mothers who know nothing about the education system. The idea that they had the right to advocate for their own children and the access to visit elected officials and speak with them about their concerns was amazing. Without ESN's support, we would not have been able to empower our community members to learn how to advocate and ultimately do so."
Learn more about the Afrique Service Center on their website.
Jim Crawford, with the Washington state Office of Financial Management (OFM), presented at today's Excellent Schools Now (ESN) full coalition meeting on the state of the budget.
OFM's projections demonstrate a significant shortfall in revenue for the state of Washington. The presentation is available on the OFM website. The presentation does not take into account any costs associated with the "Class Size" Initiative (I-1351) that will be on the November ballot.
During the 2014 legislative session, the Excellent Schools Now (ESN) Coalition worked to pass the College and Career Ready Diploma (SB 6552). This law authorized the State Board of Education to implement their recommended 24-credit high school graduation requirements beginning with the class of 2019.
With the College and Career Ready Diploma, more Washington students will graduate high school prepared for both college and career. In recent studies, it was found that less than half of graduating seniors meet the basic requirements for admission into a four-year state university.
To implement the updated graduation requirements, the State Board of Education drafted proposed rules. After a public comment period, public forum in Olympia on June 6, and a public hearing in Spokane on July 9, the State Board of Education approved rules for implementation.
Mark your calendars for Thursday, July 17, 9-11 AM at the 2100 Building in Seattle for an informative presentation by Kim Justice, an event hosted by ESN Coalition member School's Out Washington.
Kim is the Senior Budget Analyst for the Washington State Budget & Policy Center. She has worked in Washington state politics since 2001, as a campaign staffer for Democratic legislative and congressional races, a community organizer for labor and progressive organizations, and a lobbyist for policies that benefit people with low incomes. Prior to joining the Budget & Policy Center, Kim was a Policy Analyst for the House Democratic Caucus where she staffed the House Committee on Community, Economic Development and Trade and the House Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services.
Kim will help us understand the impacts and review suggested solutions for the Mc Cleary ruling on basic education funding. Feel free to bring along a friend who is interested in advocacy efforts!
We also will learn more about the direction of the newly formed Expanded Learning Opportunity Council, which will have its first meeting the day before. Please mark your calendar and RSVP by July 14 to Janet Schmidt at School's Out Washington by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone to 206.323.6926.
Excellent Schools Now
A Washington coalition working to ensure all students are ready for college, work and life.