SENATE BILL 5587 regarding student assessment (testing, as in high stakes testing) was introduced by Mercer Island Republican Steve Litzow who was backed during his campaign by Stand for Children. The bill will receive a public hearing on Wednesday, February 13 at 1:30 p.m. by the Senate committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education in SHR 1.

On page 11 of the bill, the following sentence has been struck:

(b) An estimated timeline and costs to the state and to school

5 districts to implement the provisionally adopted standards, including

6 providing necessary training, realignment of curriculum, adjustment of

7 state assessments, and other actions.

What I would want to know as a lawmaker or a taxpaying constituent is how much this bill would cost. We are learning that these “assessments” are costing taxpayers a lot of money that is going into the pockets of companies like NWEA (MAP) and Pearson who are making a fortune on this boom of high stakes testing that Arne Duncan in all his wisdom has created with his Race to the Top edicts.

I also don’t see any language in this bill about assessing the students who would be taking the online learning courses that the ed reform crowd wants to sell us next.

Regarding HOUSE BILL 1423

The public hearing for this bill will be held on Thursday, February 14 at 8:00 AM, by the House Committee on Education in room HHR A.

Speaking of online courses, here it comes. Don Nielson must be rubbing his hands with glee knowing that his online company is about to get a piece of the pie thanks to Stand for Children’s Chad Magendanz.

What they did was take the alternative learning experience bill and modify it to read “online learning” schools with all of the same provisions and guidelines. The issue with this bill is that now the alternative learning schools will have to share their budgets, such as that is, with these cash rich online courses and schools.

There is a description in this bill on how the Alternative Learning Experience schools get funded. Magendanz & Co.  added the wording “…and students enrolled in online courses or online school programs” when it came to how online courses would be funded. They just tagged on these courses to the funding of ALE schools.

The worst irony is that ALE schools have been chronically underfunded and now they will have to share funding? These online courses make major bucks because the software is cheap and you don’t need to pay much in terms of labor, meaning teachers.

Here is the wording regarding the funding:

(5) The definition of resident student for purposes of this section

15 shall be based on rules adopted by the superintendent of public

16 instruction, which shall consider and address the impact of alternative

17 learning experience students and students enrolled in online courses or

18 online school programs as provided in RCW 28A.150.262 (as recodified by

19 this act) on federal forest funds distribution.

This is the time for clarification on how these online courses will be funded or schools will find that their coffers, such as they are, have been sacked.

What’s interesting is that Representative Santos and others have already countered with another bill regarding online courses, HOUSE BILL 1431.

She and others have added stipulations to online courses:

(a) Remote courses may be offered only to students in grades nine

38 through twelve, unless:

1 (i) The student has a health condition, documented by a person

2 licensed, certified, registered, or otherwise authorized by the law of

3 this state to provide health care, that prevents the student from

4 physically attending school in a regular classroom setting;

5 (ii) The student is temporarily absent from school in accordance

6 with rules adopted by the superintendent of public instruction under

7 RCW 28A.150.290; or

8 (iii) The student is in grades six through eight and has been

9 removed from a regular classroom setting for violating a code of

10 student conduct.

11 (b) Hybrid courses may be offered to students in grades

12 kindergarten through twelve.

(5 (b) “Hybrid course” means a course where the student has in-person

6 instructional contact time for at least twenty percent of the total

7 weekly time for the course.)

They struck out wording about consulting with the “Washington coalition of online learning”, whoever that is, and kept oversight with the Office of OSPI.

((after consultation with the

22 Washington coalition for online learning)).

This bill will also have a public hearing on February 14 at 8:00 AM, by the House Committee on Education in room HHR A.

Please take a few minutes to call or e-mail your representatives and let them know what you think. Even better, if you have the time, carpool to Olympia and be part of the process. Get on the speakers’ list. If you can’t get on the list, drop in on your representatives and let them know what you think. If they are not available, talk to a staffer. Your opinion will be noted and have additional weight because you took the time to go to Olympia and speak to them in person.

Dora Taylor

Post Script:

A recommended read, Diane Ravitch’s post on Pearson, The Pearsonizing of the American Mind.