Thursday, March 21, 2013

Testimony - SB 5330, Student Achievement

Staff handout for E2SSB 5330, Comparison to Current Law & House Bills

To: House Education Committee
Re: E2SSB 5330, Improved Student Achievement and Outcomes
(To comment on this bill, click here)

WSPTA position: Pro. This bill advances a number of our association’s priority issues, including WaKIDS, K-3 class size, parent involvement coordinators, mentors for teachers, and behavior interventions

Dear Chairwoman Santos and committee members,

Washington State PTA is supportive of Engrossed Secondary Substitute Senate Bill 5330; it is an integrated, directive approach that attempts to make best use of limited resources. We appreciate its emphasis on closing the gaps in achievement and we agree with the underlying premise that money alone is not the answer; rather, it is how we direct additional resources to support programs and practices that best help our students, in particular our struggling atypical students. 

Following is feedback on the bill’s separate provisions, in the order your staff presented them in its handout for E2SSB 5330.



The consensus from stakeholders seems to be five waiver days would be better than three; we ask that you consult the work group and get their feedback on the time needed. We also ask that you view this time as an investment in family engagement. This is the family’s opportunity to learn about the school, get feedback on their child and share their information about their child. For some families this may be a quicker process. For others, especially where language, culture or special needs come into play, this will be a longer process. WaKIDs is not just an inventory of skills and not just a meeting. It is a different approach to starting school, one that transitions the family into the K-12 system and very intentionally takes a proactive approach to identifying and meeting the needs of each student.

Kindergarten, K-3 class size

Washington State PTA supports an integrated approach to early learning, as defined as birth through grade 3. As part of that, we support rollout of full-day kindergarten in conjunction with lowering K-3 class sizes and fostering strong family engagement. We appreciate that this bill acknowledges the importance of voluntary full-day kindergarten as well as small class sizes, particularly in the K-2 years when studies show reductions to be most cost effective.

Parent involvement coordinators

PTA supports family engagement/involvement coordinators as distinct from school social workers. Social workers focus on wrap-around services or social supports for families in need. In the school environment, family engagement coordinators focus on helping the schools partner effectively with families around instructional and behavioral needs of students. They work to ensure family engagement is systemic and integrated—that families are getting the information they need in the manner they need it and that families are able to fully participate in decisions affecting their children, and fully support their children’s learning both in and out of school.

In PTA’s experience with federal programs, we have found it important to specify standards around family involvement. We do agree with linking funding to effective practices in family engagement. There is quite a bit of research to guide schools and tools to help schools gauge program effectiveness.

Washington State PTA would like to see all schools adopt a family partnership blueprint focused on closing opportunity gaps and drop-out prevention. These should include sample practices, policies and strategies; a performance-assessment tool; parent, student and teacher surveys; goals; and an assessment guide to measure success. The parent involvement/family engagement coordinator should assist with the implementation of policies and practices as needed. (SB 5330 does not get into this, but Washington State PTA also advocates for an integrated system of training and professional learning for family engagement that addresses family, administration and educator needs. Few educators – including administrators -- have received formal training on effective family engagement.)

We don’t want to get sidetracked by terminology, but nationally PTA prefers “family engagement,” and our goal with engagement is to create strong partnerships between families and schools at all levels of decision making.  In conjunction with researchers at Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities, PTA has developed national standards for families, schools and communities to work together to support student success. We have also developed an implementation guide and an assessment guide. These resources are free for schools to use.


Mentors/ Educator Support Program

We strongly support. Washington State loses about 25 percent of new teachers during their first five years. This turnover is costly (about $45,000 per teacher, or $30.6 million priced out), according to the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession. And worse, high poverty schools have the highest turnover rates. This undermines school improvement plans, family-school partnerships and equitable access to highly qualified, fully prepared teachers. High quality mentoring improves teacher retention and student achievement.

Behavior supports/Learning Assistance Program

We see a direct link between behavior support and a student’s ability to learn. We disagree somewhat with testimony provided by OSPI during the hearing. We agree that schools are looking to implement school-wide efforts to support social and emotional learning and behavior supports. But any school-wide effort should be based on tiered intervention, such as Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. Schools will still need resources to screen and implement individualized interventions in tiers 2 and 3, and allowing LAP funds to be used for behavioral as well as academic interventions could address that. In some cases, students will need both types of intervention.

We do not have a position on using LAP funds for family involvement coordinators, but it seems to make sense to reserve LAP funds for interventions. 

We do not have specific recommendations on how to monitor the Learning Assistance Program for cost-effectiveness. We do support directing funds to evidence-based programs, whenever possible. It’s an effective way to familiarize schools with best practices and ensure students are getting the help they need.

Building Bridges

We support 2SHB 1424; we do not have a position on how to prioritize grant recipients.

Transitional Bilingual

We do not have specific recommendations on how to run the program. We do like the professional development for ELL instruction.

Transition services for special education students

We strongly support this late addition to the bill.

Education data

We support use of longitudinal data to make policy and funding decisions. With any pilot project, however, our ask is that the work translates into meaningful, system-wide benefits once the pilot ends.


Ramona Hattendorf
Government relations coordinator
Washington State PTA


1 comment:

  1. I am concerned that this bill continues to use the old, inadequate, funding formula for highly capable programming. Despite multiple recommendations from the QEC, the legislature is standing by the pre-2261 funding formula. By following the recommendations of the Highly Capable Technical Work Group and the QEC we would be better able to ensure equity in identification processes for our youngest students and do a better job of dropout prevention for our older students. That would take amending this bill from the 2.314% current funding to 5%.