Quality and diversity in the educator workforce are critical ingredients to student success. Washington has an opportunity to elevate those ingredients by:
- Supporting diverse pathways into education
- Strategic investment for professional development in the workforce
- Policy change that prioritizes access and retention in the profession
With this charge, we can collectively address shortages while at the same time increase teacher diversity in the profession. Supporting our students means investing in our educators. Please see below for our 2019 legislative priority areas.
Supporting students through high-quality paraeducators
The Legislature must invest $25.2 million in School Year (SY) 19-20 and $26.7 million in SY 20-21 to fully fund the Paraeducator certificate program.
The Legislature is heavily invested in ensuring that all instructional paraeducators receive training to support Washington’s diverse student populations. If the Legislature fully funds this program, all paraeducators, both new hires and those currently employed, must complete a four day (28 hours) Fundamental Course of Study on the paraeducator standards of practice during the 2019-20 school year. Once this training is met, paraeducators are then required to complete an additional 70 hours of professional development within three years. This training will not happen without full funding of the paraeducator certificate program.
This investment will provide high quality paraeducator support in every classroom to meet the needs of Washington’s most diverse and vulnerable student populations.
- View our paraeducator legislative overview fact sheet for more information.
Grow our own educator pathways
We are requesting that the Legislature allocate an additional $8.47 million biennially for these programs to create more opportunities for future educators.
The demographics of our state’s educator workforce are disproportionate to our student population. PESB’s charge is to address educator workforce needs at both the state and regional levels with a focus on growing our own educators through career pathway programs. By increasing investment in these workforce development programs, Washington will continue to be a national leader in addressing educator shortage, recruitment, retention, and increasing educator diversity.
This proposal is to increase funding and support for these programs:
- Alternative routes to teacher certification
- Educator retooling conditional loan scholarship
- Grow Your Own (GYO) regional recruitment and guidance
- Recruiting Washington Teachers (RWT)
- Recruiting Washington Teachers – Bilingual Educators Initiative (RWT-BEI)
Previous funding levels for these programs did not meet fully the demand for these programs.
Eliminating testing barriers
We are asking for a legislative change to remove the requirement of meeting a specific score in the WEST-B exam or alternative. This will allow other, more equitable, ways of assessing basic skills.
The demographic gap between the cultural and linguistic background of our state’s students and their teachers has persisted despite concerted efforts to recruit and retain teacher candidates of color and bilingual teachers. In addition to these efforts, the testing barriers work group was formed to review research and data related to standardized tests for pre-service teachers to determine whether and to what extent these tests serve as inequitable barriers to success. Their findings indicate that the WEST-B (Washington Educator Skills Test – Basic) is an unnecessary barrier into teacher preparation programs for applicants of color and bilingual applicants.
Potential educators must achieve a specific score on the basic skills test to enter a preparation program or achieve a specific score on an alternative test. By removing the requirement of a specific score, this will allow other, more equitable, ways of assessing basic skills to be used by the institution to which the candidate is applying.
We have submitted two decision packages that outline our 2019 legislative budget request.