Feb 08

Schoolhouse Washington recommends key change to state’s draft Every Student Succeeds Act plan

Close the opportunity gap for students experiencing homelessness.

YOUR VOICE NEEDED: Ask the state to include students experiencing homelessness in its plan to improve graduation rates.

The online form is simple to fill out; just click here. Be sure to select “Long Term Goals and Measurement of Interim Progress,” the first checkbox under question number 5, and feel free to use or adapt the suggested language below for your comment. Comments must be made before midnight on Wednesday, February 15.

Suggested language:

"The Consolidated State Plan’s Long Term Goals and Measurement of Interim Progress proposes to close the educational opportunity gaps for subgroups that have been historically underserved, including: students of color, English language learners, students receiving special education services, and low-income students.

I recommend that the state education plan include students experiencing homelessness as a separate subgroup so that their academic success will not be masked, and so that they can join their peers in being on track to proficiency standards by 8th grade and a 90 percent graduation rate by the year 2026."

BACKGROUND:

The Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction has circulated a draft of the Consolidated State Plan regarding implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the national education law passed with bipartisan support in 2015.

The draft state plan addresses six core areas:

  1. Long-term goals and measurement of interim progress
  2. Consultation and coordination
  3. Challenging academic standards and academic assessments
  4. Accountability, support and improvement for schools
  5. Supporting excellent educators
  6. Supporting all students

Our comments will be particularly targeted toward the “Long Term Goals and Measurement of Interim Progress” section.

OUR ANALYSIS:

Education is the foundation of success for all young people – in particular, for students experiencing homelessness. Students experiencing homelessness face many unique barriers to achieving academic success. The four-year statewide graduation rate for students experiencing homelessness in the Class of 2016 was 53.2 percent, compared to 79.1 percent for all students, according to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. This disparity is unacceptable.

2015-2016 Graduation Rates by Student SubgroupsWashington’s draft plan proposes to close the educational opportunity gaps for subgroups that have been historically underserved:

  • Students of color
  • English language learners
  • Students receiving special education services
  • Low-income students

The plan lays out long-term educational success goals for these student subgroups, which include all students achieving proficiency standards by 8th grade and a 90 percent graduation rate by the year 2026. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction explains that these “new goals emphasize student growth where possible, and focus on closing achievement gaps between subgroups, rather than school averages that may mask inequities between higher performing and historically underserved students of color, students in poverty, and students receiving English learner and special education services.”*

OUR RECOMMENDATION:

While students experiencing homelessness disproportionately fall into the subgroups listed above, the state’s plan does not differentiate students experiencing homelessness as a separate subgroup. Without this step, their unique barriers to academic success will continue to be masked.

Schoolhouse Washington recommends that the state education plan include students experiencing homelessness as a separate subgroup.

One in 27 Washington students experienced homelessness in the last school year; half were in Grade 5 or younger. Learn more about these students, and the impact to their education, here. When we are able to help all students who struggle the most to achieve academic success, including those experiencing homelessness, we are more likely to realize the laudable goals of ESSA and the state’s plan.

*Source: Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction. Washington's ESSA Consolidated Plan. (DRAFT, Revised November 13, 2016, p. 11) Accessed February 3, 2017. http://www.k12.wa.us/ESEA/ESSA/pubdocs/WashingtonESSADraftConsolidatedPlan.pdf