Public education in Washington
Energy • Environment • Fracking • Public education • Higher education • School choice • Charter schools • Public pensions • State budget and finances • Taxes • Voting • Ballot access • Redistricting
- 1 State agencies
- 2 Regional comparison
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Academic performance
- 5 Educational choice options
- 6 Education funding and expenditures
- 7 Organizations
- 8 Taxpayer-funded lobbying
- 9 Transparency
- 10 Education ballot measures
- 11 Studies and reports
- 12 Recent news
- 13 See also
- 14 External links
- 15 References
Washington school districts
List of school districts in Washington
Public education in Washington
School board elections portal
The Washington State Board of Education has 16 statutory members. Five members are elected by school board members, two from eastern Washington and three from western Washington, and seven members are appointed by the governor. There is one private school representative on the Board of Education who is elected by members of state-approved private schools. The Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction also serves on the State Board of Education and is elected to the position by all voters of the state. All these positions have full voting rights on all matters brought to the Board of Education. The last two members, two high school students, one from western Washington and one from eastern Washington, are nonvoting members. They are selected to serve by the Washington Association of Student Councils.
The mission statement of the Washington State Board of Education reads:
|“||The mission of the State Board of Education is to lead the development of state policy, provide system oversight, and advocate for student success.||”|
Common Core, or the Common Core State Standards Initiative, is an American education initiative that outlines quantifiable benchmarks in English and mathematics at each grade level from kindergarten through high school. Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn adopted these standards on July 20, 2011. Washington started a four-phase implementation strategy to incorporate the Common Core State Standards during the 2011-2012 school year. The standards will be fully implemented during the 2014-2015 school year.
- See also: General comparison table for education statistics in the 50 states and Education spending per pupil in all 50 states
The following chart shows how Washington compares to three neighboring states with respect to number of students, schools, the number of teachers per pupil, and the number of administrators per pupil. Further comparisons between these states with respect to performance and financial information are given in other sections of this page.
|State||Schools||Districts||Students||Teachers||Teacher/pupil ratio||Administrator/pupil ratio||Per pupil spending|
| Sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a.|
National Center for Education Statistics, Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12
The following table displays the ethnic distribution of students in Washington as reported in the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data for 2011-2012.
|Demographic Information for Washington's K-12 Public School System|
|Ethnicity||Students||State Percentage||United States Percentage**|
|Hawaiian Nat./Pacific Isl. Students||9,308||0.89%||0.42%|
|Two or More||63,077||6.03%||2.54%|
|**Note: This is the percentage of all students in the United States that are reported to be of this ethnicity.|
Enrollments by region type
A plurality of students in Washington attend suburban schools. This is different from students of neighboring states. In Idaho and Montana, students are more likely to attend rural schools than suburban schools, and in Oregon, students are more likely to attend city schools than suburban schools.
|Student distribution by region type, 2011 - 2012 (as percents)|
|State||City schools||Suburban schools||Town schools||Rural Schools|
|Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD) (timed out)|
- See also: NAEP scores by state
The National Center for Education Statistics provides state-by-state data on student achievement levels in mathematics and reading in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Compared to three neighboring states (Idaho, Montana, and Oregon), Washington had the highest percentage of students score at or above proficient in math and reading in fourth grade and eighth grade.
|Percent of students scoring at or above proficient, 2012-2013|
|Math - Grade 4||Math - Grade 8||Reading - Grade 4||Reading - Grade 8|
|NAEP assessment data for all students 2012-2013|
Graduation, ACT and SAT scores
|Comparison table for graduation rates and test scores*|
|State||Graduation rate, 2012||Average ACT Composite, 2012||Average SAT Composite, 2013|
|Percent||Quintile ranking**||Score||Participation rate||Score||Participation rate|
| *Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Rate (except for Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, which did not report “Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate,” but instead used their own method of calculation).|
**Graduation rates for states in the first quintile ranked in the top 20 percent nationally. Similarly, graduation rates for states in the fifth quintile ranked in the bottom 20 percent nationally.
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express
- See also: Public high school dropout rates by state for a full comparison of dropout rates by group in all states
The high school event dropout rate indicates the proportion of students who were enrolled at some time during the school year and were expected to be enrolled in grades 9–12 in the following school year but were not enrolled by October 1 of the following school year. Students who have graduated, transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts. The average public high school event dropout rate for the United States remained constant at 3.3 percent for both SY 2010–11 and SY 2011–12. The event dropout rate for Washington was higher than the national average at 4.0 percent in the 2010-2011 school year, and 3.8 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.
Educational choice options
- See also: School choice in Washington
School choice options in Washington include: [[Charter schools in Washington|charter schools], homeschooling, online learning, private schools and two mandatory public school open enrollment policies.
Education funding and expenditures
- See also: Washington state budget and finances
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), the state spent approximately 22.9 percent of its fiscal year 2012 budget on elementary and secondary education. This is down 0.2 percentage points, a 0.9 percent decrease in the share of the budget from fiscal year 2008, when the state spent 23.1 percent of its budget on elementary and secondary education. Over half of Washington's education revenue comes from state funding. Local funding accounts for just over 31 percent, and federal funding accounts for nearly 12 percent.
|Comparison of financial figures for school systems|
|State||Percent of budget (2012)||Per pupil spending (2011)||Revenue sources (2011)|
|Percent federal funds||Percent state funds||Percent local funds|
| Sources:NASBO, "State Expenditure Report," Table 8: Elementary and Secondary Education Expenditures As a Percent of Total Expenditures |
U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports," issued May 2013
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system revenues in Washington totaled approximately $11.8 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including revenue sources, for Washington and surrounding states.
|Revenues by source, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Federal revenue||State revenue||Local revenue||Total revenue|
|Public school revenues by source, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system expenditures in Washington totaled approximately $11.9 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including expenditure types, for Washington and surrounding states.
|Expenditures by type, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Current expenditures**||Capital outlay||Other***||Total expenditures|
| **Funds spent operating local public schools and local education agencies, including such expenses as salaries for school personnel, student transportation, school books and materials, and energy costs, but excluding capital outlay, interest on school debt, payments to private schools, and payments to public charter schools.|
***Includes payments to state and local governments, payments to private schools, interest on school system indebtedness, and nonelementary-secondary expenditures, such as adult education and community services expenditures.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
|Public school expenditures, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average national salary for classroom teachers in public elementary and secondary schools has declined by 1.3 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. During the same period in Washington, the average salary decreased by 4.5 percent.
|Estimated average salaries for teachers (in constant dollars**)|
|**"Constant dollars based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to a school-year basis. The CPI does not account for differences in inflation rates from state to state."|
In 2012, the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now assessed the power and influence of state teacher unions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their rankings were based on 37 different variables in five broad areas, including: resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies and perceived influence. Washington ranked 10th overall, or strongest, which was in the first tier of five.
The main union related to the Washington school system is the Washington Education Association (WEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA). WEA is the largest education association in the state. The second largest union is AFT Washington, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.
List of local Washington school unions:
- Washington Education Association
- AFT Washington
- Seattle Education Association
- Everett Education Association
- Tacoma Education Association
- Spokane Education Association
- Issaquah Education Association
- Washington Education Association Riverside
- Marysville Education Association
- Bellevue Education Association
- See also: Washington government sector lobbying
The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Washington State School Directors' Association. Another government sector lobbying organization is the Washington Association of School Personnel Administrators.
Education ballot measures
Ballotpedia has tracked 40 statewide ballot measures relating to education.
- Washington $30 per Schoolchild, Initiative 46 (1922)
- Washington Bonds for Community Colleges, Referendum 31 (1972)
- Washington Bonds for Public School Facilities, Referendum 14 (1966)
- Washington Bonds for Public University Construction, Referendum 9 (1950)
- Washington Bonds for School Construction, Referendum 7 (1950)
- Washington Bonds for State Institutions, Referendum 10 (1958)
- Washington Bonds of Public School Facilities, Referendum 12 (1964)
- Washington Charter School Authorization, Referendum 55 (2004)
- Washington Charter School Initiative, Initiative 1240 (2012)
- Washington Charter Schools, Initiative 177 (1996)
- Washington Charter Schools Act, Initiative 729 (2000)
- Washington Class Size Reduction Measure, Initiative 1351 (2014)
- Washington Common School Construction Fund, SJR 22, Part 1 (1966)
- Washington Compulsory Schooling, Initiative 49 (1924)
- Washington Corporate Excise Tax to Replace School Levies, Initiative 314 (1975)
- Washington Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Teachers, Initiative 732 (2000)
- Washington Education Trust Fund Sales Tax Increase, Initiative 884 (2004)
- Washington Excess School Taxes, SJR 137 (1976)
- Washington Four-Year Tax Levies, HJR 4208 (1997)
- Washington Governmental Assistance for Students, HJR 22 (1975)
- Washington Income Tax for Schools, Initiative 69 (1932)
- Washington Investment of Permanent School Fund, SJR 22, Part 2 (1966)
- Washington Investment of Public University Funds, Substitute HJR 4215 (2007)
- Washington Non-Partisan Elections for School Superintendents, Initiative 126 (1938)
- Washington Permanent School Fund, Amendment 1 (1894)
- Washington Physical Examination of School Children, Referendum 13 (1922)
- Washington Prioritize Revenue Growth for Education Measure, Initiative 1388 (2015)
- Washington Prohibition on Unnecessary Busing of Students, Initiative 350 (1978)
- Washington Property Tax Levy for Schools, HJR 4220 (1987)
- Washington Public University Investments Amendment, SJR 8223 (2012)
- Washington Scholarship Vouchers, Initiative 173 (1996)
- Washington School Class Sizes Act, Initiative 728 (2000)
- Washington School District Debt, SJR 8206 (1999)
- Washington School District Indebtedness Limits, HJR 10 (1950)
- Washington School District Indebtedness Limits, HJR 8 (1952)
- Washington Simple Majority for Excess School Tax Levies, Substitute HJR 4204 (2007)
- Washington Six Year Tax Levies for School Districts, HJR 55 (1986)
- Washington Tax Levy Periods for Schools, Substitute HJR 4 (1958)
- Washington Teacher's Retirement Fund, Referendum 1 (1914)
- Washington Voter Approval of Excess School Tax Levies, HJR 22 (1985)
Studies and reports
Quality Counts 2014
- See also: Quality Counts 2014 Report
Education Week, a publication that reports on many education issues throughout the country, began using an evaluation system in 1997 to grade each state on various elements of education performance. This system, called Quality Counts, uses official data on performance from each state to generate a report card for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report card in 2014 uses six different categories:
- Chance for success
- K-12 achievement
- Standards, assessments and accountability
- The teaching profession
- School finance
- Transitions and Alignment
Each of these six categories had a number of other elements that received individual scores. Those scores were then averaged and used to determine the final score in each category. Every state received two types of scores for each of the six major categories: A numerical score out of 100 and a letter grade based on that score. Education Week used the score for the first category, "chance for success," as the value for ranking each state and the District of Columbia. The average grade received in the entire country was 77.3, or a C+ average. The country's highest average score was in the category of "standards, assessments and accountability" at 85.3, or a B average. The lowest average score was in "K-12 achievement", at 70.2, or a C- average.
Washington received a score of 79.5, or a B- average in the "chance for success" category. This was above the national average. Aside from the "chance for success" category, the state's highest score was in "standards, assessments and accountability" at 79.1, or a C+ average. The lowest score was in both "the teaching profession and transitions and alignment" at 71.4, or a C- average. Washington had the highest score for the "K-12 achievement" category when compared to neighboring states. The chart below displays the scores of Washington and its surrounding states.
Note: Click on a column heading to sort the data.
|Public education report cards, 2014|
|State||Chance for success||K-12 achievement||Standards, assessments and accountability||The teaching profession||School finance||Transitions and Alignment|
|Washington||79.5 (B-)||74.9 (C)||79.1 (C+)||71.4 (C-)||71.6 (C-)||71.4 (C-)|
|Idaho||4.2 (C)||69.8 (C-)||86.6 (B+)||60.5 (D-)||60.0 (D-)||71.4 (C-)|
|Montana||76.3 (C)||69.7 (C-)||76.3 (C)||69.4 (D+)||73.0 (C)||60.7 (D-)|
|Oregon||74.6 (C)||64.8 (D)||80.1 (B-)||63.5 (D)||71.0 (C-)||85.7 (B)|
|United States Average||77.3 (C+)||70.2 (C-)||85.3 (B)||72.5 (C)||75.5 (C)||81.1 (B-)|
| Source: Education Week, "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 18, 2015|
A full discussion of how these numbers were generated can be found here.
State Budget Solutions education study
State Budget Solutions examined national trends in education from 2009 to 2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates and average ACT scores. The study showed that the states that spent the most did not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor did they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. The full report can be accessed here.
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Washington + Education "
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Washington state budget and finances
- Washington Department of Education
- School choice in Washington
- Charter schools in Washington
- Washington school districts
- Education Policy in the U.S.
- Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
- Washington State Board of Education
- Washington Districts and Schools*
- State Graduation Requirements
- Washington State Testing
- Washington Charter School Resource Center
- Washington Public School Ratings by PSK12
- Washington Public School Ratings by Great Schools
- National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
- ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
- United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD); Table 2.—Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011-12," accessed May 12, 2014
- United States Department of Education, "ED Data Express," accessed May 12, 2014
- State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, "About OSPI," accessed June 4, 2014
- State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, "About Randy Dorn: Superintendent of Public Instruction," accessed June 4, 2014
- Washington State Board of Education, "Composition," accessed June 4, 2014
- Washington State Board of Education, "Mission & Vision," accessed June 4, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Core Standards in your State," accessed July 12, 2014
- State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, "Transition to New Standards," accessed June 17, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-2012," accessed May 7, 2014
- United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014
- ACT, "2012 ACT National and State Scores," accessed May 13, 2014
- Commonwealth Foundation, "SAT Scores by State 2013," October 10, 2013
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File, School Year 2010-11, Provision Version 1a and School Year 2011-12, Preliminary Version 1a," accessed May 13, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2011-2013," accessed February 21, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009-2011," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditures Report, 2010-2012," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2008," accessed February 24, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: School Year 2010–11," accessed May 13, 2014 (timed out)
- Maciver Institute, "REPORT: How much are teachers really paid?," accessed October 29, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 211.60. Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, 1969-70 through 2012-13," accessed May 13, 2014
- Thomas E Fordham Institute, "How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison," October 29, 2012
- Center for Union Facts, "Washington teachers unions," accessed November 4, 2009 (dead link)
- Washington State Legislature, "Washington Senate Bill 6818, Promoting Transparency in State Expenditures," March 11, 2008
- Education Week "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 19, 2015
State of Washington
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