Highlights of 2022, looking forward
New Voices: SBE began 2022 by adding three new voices. Dr. Angela Griffin (Seattle) was elected by members of the Washington State School Directors’ Association. Brooke Brown (Tacoma) was recommended by the Washington Education Association (educators state-wide) and appointed by Governor J. Inslee. Dr. Dana Riley Black (Seattle) was also appointed by the Governor. Learn more about them on our member bio page.
Investments in Community Engagement: The 2022 legislature invested $263,000 per year to bolster the State Board’s efforts in reaching students and families, especially those furthest from educational justice. We are centering the voices of those often unheard, who may have faced barriers to participating in the state policy making process. So far, the Board is working toward contracting with community-based organizations around the state to hear and learn from communities. The Board will also welcome two new student interns passionate about communications with the objective to reach and engage their peers thanks to this funding.
Support for Mastery-based Learning: SBE offered funding and support to 20 schools across our state in the first ever Mastery-based Learning Collaborative (MBLC) grant program. These awards support mastery-based learning (MBL) - sometimes called competency-based education. Schools were selected with the goal of implementing the MBL learning model over the course of a few years. Read the release. To find out more about the MBLC, visit sbe.wa.gov/mblc.
Students Get the Vote: On March 11, the Governor signed the Board’s agency request legislation, SSB 5497, giving student members voting rights on the Board. Both student representatives and several of their peers had testified in support of this legislation. Read the Crosscut article about this.
A Student and Executive Committee Member: It was a historic meeting this September as student member Pavan Venkatakrishnan was elected to the Board’s Executive Committee (it provides guidance on the Board’s agenda and oversight of the budget) unanimously by the full Board. The Executive Committee is now composed of Mary Fertakis, Harium Martin-Morris, Pavan Venkatakrishnan, Bill Kallappa, and Kevin Wang.
Private Schools Approval: With the addition of private schools manager, Nicole Mulhausen, SBE’s private schools approval process is smoother and schools feel supported. With the support of the Washington Federation of Independent Schools (WFIS), consistent communication with private schools has helped ensure compliance with the law. Approximately five hundred private schools operate in Washington, serving over 80,000 students–SBE approves all of these schools. Learn more and watch short explainer videos at sbe.wa.gov/privateschools.
Aligning Graduation Requirements: The State Board has been directed by the Legislature to submit recommendations about aligning graduation requirements with the Washington Profile of a Graduate. To submit recommendations that reflect Washington communities, SBE held two rounds of listening sessions, engaged stakeholders and partners, and had an open, public-facing survey available for over two months asking for feedback. The recommendations (found in the recently submitted report) support expanding opportunities for mastery-based learning while ensuring consistent requirements for earning a high school diploma regardless of the student’s learning model.
Zoom-in on Graduation Pathway Options: At the end of the school year, SBE staff promoted a survey designed by Strobel Consulting to complete the third year in a three-year research report on the equity and effectiveness of the graduation pathway options. The survey and focus groups gave valuable insight into what updates may be needed to our state’s graduation requirements. Read the report and foreword, recently submitted to the legislature by the Board.
New Student Member: We added the wonderful Donalda Brantley as a new student Board member, and east-side student representative. Donalda is a junior at John R. Rogers High School in Spokane. Her first meeting as a Board member was in July. Since then, she has been vocal about the connection between work and credits and equitable access to learning opportunities. She has listened to her fellow students, and helped with outreach about the High School and Beyond Plan as well.
The Real SBE Seal: Adopted on behalf of the Board in summer 2022 with 100 percent donated funds, the State Board’s seal, Snorkels, is an educational interactive symbol. Snorkels has their own Instagram account (instagram.com/therealsbeseal) where they document their journeys throughout Washington schools, attend Board meetings and report back, and share relatable resources that help educate the public on what the Board is and what the Board does—all while residing officially in its home: the Old Capitol Building in Olympia. We asked elementary school students all over Washington to submit name ideas for the seal. We received close to 200 submissions, and the name “Snorkels'' got the most votes! Check out the gallery of coloring sheets submitted to us. A fourth grader at Glennwood Elementary School in Lake Stevens won a pizza party for her class (courtesy of our Executive Director) and a visit from Snorkels and members of SBE.
Basic Education: SBE hired Viktoria Bobyleva as the new Basic Education Manager in July. Using the new Basic Education Collection tool, Viktoria managed to recommend all school districts and local education agencies for compliance in basic education at or before the November meeting. Viktoria is already planning out the 2023-24 collection in order to streamline the process. Find more information about Basic Education at sbe.wa.gov/basiced.
System Health: Staff engaged with the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) to develop and propose new statewide accountability elements and indicators collectively defining the conditions for learning. The new system will not replace the federal accountability system. The six key elements and 18 indicators are primarily input measures providing evidence as to why student groups are or are not meeting the educational goals defined in statute. To elevate student voice, the SBE engaged with the University of Washington to review current best practices in order to recommend the best approach to collect statewide school climate information. The next phase of this work is expected to start in mid-January. Find the latest report on system health that was recently submitted to the legislature.
Changing Team: We were joined this year by two new staff: Arielle Matthews, Community Engagement Coordinator and Viktoria Bobyleva, Basic Education Manager. Two long-serving staff, Parker Teed and Tami Jensen, left the agency. See our staff page for a little background about each of our staff members: sbe.wa.gov/about-us/staff.
Looking Ahead: It’s the nature of Boards to shift and change. As our members change and grow, so will our strategic plan and the work we plan to do this coming year. 2023 promises to be a busy year for us. We have shifted to a new meeting calendar that will allow us to better collaborate with partners and each other. After a couple years of virtual meetings, we are excited to schedule to meet in-person across the state.
We are also excited to welcome two student interns to the Board starting in January. Juniors and passionate storytellers Indiana Hilmes (Selah) and Star Mendoza (Puyallup) will help with communications, outreach, and community engagement in a one-year paid learning opportunity. Giving students a chance to practice their passions in a professional setting means we “walk the talk” when it comes to applied learning.
We will continue to work for equity in education. We will continue to use our equity lens when we think about graduation requirements, accountability and recognition, private schools approval, basic education compliance, and how our education system serves students. And we will continue to support learning models that serve each and every student based on their specific needs, like we are seeing in schools using mastery-based learning.
While change is certain, our commitment to building a system that serves all students equitably holds strong.
As many of our partners, we will start the year with a legislative session. Find our recently adopted legislative platform and information about our request legislation expanding graduation pathway options at sbe.wa.gov/waleg. Interested in keeping up with us in 2023? Subscribe to get updates directly to your email.
Director of Communications