I asked Gov. Jay Inslee Thursday if he still supported the basic tenets of education reform in Washington, including statewide assessments to evaluate schools and teachers.
He said then he was reluctant to join in a philosophical conversation about education reform, preferring to focus on passage of legislation to fix the state evaluation system by requiring that the state assessment be part of evaluations.
Friday, however, he issued a more-extensive statement:
I support statewide assessments. I believe assessments are one of multiple measures that can help schools and should be used as part of teacher and principal evaluations, as long as it remains part of collective bargaining.
Last year, as one example, I signed SB 5946, which focuses on elementary school student performance, and SB 5491, which set up reviews of challenges and achievements in our state’s education systems.
Testing is only one component in our effort to improve education programs with new standards that will focus on quality teaching and student success. To be fair to students, parents and teachers, we need to fully fund the programs we’re creating. With last year’s passage of SB 5329, we’ve taken a strong step toward measuring school growth so we can provide state support and intervention for struggling schools.
Now we have to make sure we fund basic education and the good reforms enacted here in Olympia in recent years.
I would hope that all parties would work together to figure out the best way to retain control of our federal education dollars. We are under some pressure to get this done and I think there is a will in the Legislature to act, and to act within the next week. I know it won’t be the last debate on testing or accountability. But it’s the most important step we can take right now.