Washington: Dedicated to Full Implementation of Common Core Standards

Though proudly standing as one of the most liberal states after only California, Washington has seen relatively little debate regarding Common Core implementation. Whether it’s because one of the biggest financial backers, Bill Gates, resides in the state or it was implemented as smoothly as it was in Montana, the only real opposition has occurred as a result of the snags that come with new, untested systems. Since July 20, 2011, Washington has turned out to be a strong supporter of the Core.

The Big Question—Testing

Though adopted a year later than most, Washington stuck by its ambition for full implementation by the 2014-15 school year. What this meant for the state was nothing hard. Teachers were very much on board with the change and have shown positive reactions to the increased challenge given to students. In truth, the only problem that’s plagued Washington educators has been the looming standardized test, known as Smarter Balanced.

Opponents stand against it because of the data showing no correlation between a student’s capability to succeed after graduation and the standardized test scores they are judged by when applying for colleges. Unfortunately, at the current moment, these scores are the only way to tell if standards are working or not.

To make this transition easier, Washington officials decided to forego the route taken by New Jersey and Idaho, that is to completely hold off the new exam altogether. Instead, the plan was to include the test alongside the other standardized exams as a way to acclimatize students to the new, technologically driven future. On top of this, the test would not make or break a student’s ability to graduate.

The Pause Button

With all that having been debated, in May, officials nonetheless spoke out against the Common Core test results. School chief Randy Dorn publically pleaded with the government to pause the test scores. On March 31, Dorn issued a waiver that would allow the scores to be published but would protect all Washington schools from suffering any kind of federal punishment should the scores be less than good.

The argument behind this is sound enough. It’s a new, tougher system, and both the kids and teachers need time to adjust professionally to meet the standards asked of them. The government would still be able to make recommendations as to how to improve those schools that fared the worst, but no other repercussions could be taken, like when the state lost some $40 million in federal aid money in 2014 for slights made against the No Child Left Behind Act.

Even though the test results loom large in everyone’s minds with the school season officially over, it is merely a small concern in the grand scope of issues the Common Core has faced. With such restricted opposition, educators have been able to dedicate ample time and resources toward making it work to the state’s advantage.