I took an interesting survey this morning, one I just happened upon while looking for something else.
I found the survey on Governor Christine Gregoire's website. The website indicates a news release went out on November 19 asking for feedback on the state's proposed education reform plan. (I have a call in to the Governor's office to see if the release was actually sent or if it was just posted on the website. So far that call has not been returned). According to the survey, the results will be used to "establish a roadmap for all Washington State education agencies, boards, departments, divisions and offices."
The survey asks respondents to rank education goals such as:
1) "All Washington Students enter kindergarten prepared for success in school and life"
2) "All Washington students compete in mathematics and science nationally and internationally"
3) "All Washington students attain high academic standards regardless of race, ethnicity, income or gender," and
4) "All Washington students graduate able to succeed in college, training and careers"
Once respondents rank those goals, they're asked to rank strategies to achieve those goals, for instance - to achieve the goal of having all students enter kindergarten prepared, the survey offers three suggested strategies:
1) "Develop capacity, skill and education levels of pre-k providers"
2) "Increase the participation of young children in high quality early childhood and pre-k programs starting with lowest income district and communities," and
3) "Ensure that what is taught, expected and assessed pre-k - grade 3 is closely coordinated (i.e., align standards, assessment, instructional and programmatic practices."
All along the way, space is provided to suggest additional or alternate strategies. Completing the full survey took me about ten minutes.
The irony comes in knowing that just four days after posting the survey, Governor Gregoire reportedly sent a letter to Legislative leaders suggesting the state raid federal education dollars to help balance the state budget. Those monies are used to, among other things, help equalize funding to property-poor school districts - something identified as one of the Governor's key education initiatives.
The goals identified in the survey are lofty and are identical to goals listed in the state's failed application for federal Race to the Top (R2T) monies.A study conducted by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction a couple of years ago indicated that less than half of all Washington children are prepared to succeed in kindergarten. When the state applied for R2T monies, that figure had dropped to just 33-percent. And, as to at least one of the other four goals - "All Washington students graduate able to succeed in college, training and careers" - the state's graduation rate stands now at just 73.6-percent. In its R2T application, the state indicated a performance target of a graduation rate of 87-percent by the year 2018 was a reasonable expectation. That's still a far cry from "all."
Lawmakers are facing some tough choices in the months ahead, as the state grapples with a projected $5.7-billion deficit over the next biennium. The Governor has given legislators until Monday, November 29 to submit their ideas for balancing the budget. And, while the deadline to take the survey was reportedly Thanksgiving it is, for now at least, still online and available.