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State lawmakers attempt to reform ‘failing’ schools, end old mandates

Fri., March 8, 2013

OLYMPIA – The Senate spent part of a second day making changes to the state’s education laws Thursday, approving a plan to identify and change “persistently failing” schools and another to remove certain outdated mandates for schools.

On Wednesday senators passed a series of education bills, including one that will require each school to receive a grade of A through F and require new assessment tests for third-graders.

On Thursday they approved and sent to the House a bill that requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to identify the state’s 10 most persistently low-achieving schools, require them to select an intervention model to improve and offer them additional money to make the changes.

Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, sponsor of the bill, said the state already knows which schools consistently underperform. “This is about taking the information and doing something about it.”

While adding some new requirements for schools, the Senate also agreed to remove certain past mandates that the Legislature never paid for or might be outmoded. “We’ve put mandate after mandate on our school system … but we never add any funding,” said Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima.

Among the mandates the Senate would remove is the requirement to teach left turns in driver’s education. Also out would be the requirement to mark Temperance and Good Citizenship Day on Jan. 16 with a special program designed by the SPI’s office and distributed to the schools. That requirement has been on the books since 1923.

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