May is an important month in the school year. It’s the month when college seniors graduate and when high school seniors settle on their choice of college or some other plan. It’s the month when Washington students take statewide tests and when year-long school projects culminate on tri-fold boards.
The Washington Roundtable, a statewide business group, is using May to draw attention to some important benchmarks that contribute to the vitality of our state. In education, they looked at certain metrics to see how Washington’s schools and students measure up against other states. Here’s an overview of what they found:
Math and science test scores for Washington eighth graders remain high
- Top 10 in math – In 2015, 39 percent of eighth graders in Washington scored at or above proficient on the National Assessment of Education Progress (“NAEP”) exam in math, ranking Washington 7th in the nation. Background: NAEP “is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas” and is considered the gold standard for academic comparisons across states.
- Top 20 in science – In 2015, 38 percent of Washington’s eighth graders scored at or above proficient on the NAEP in science, ranking Washington 16th in the nation, up from its previous ranking of 19th.
High school graduation rates are up but still down – while Washington’s statewide high school graduation rates improved from last year, its overall rank declined. With a 78.2 percent graduation rate for the Class of 2015, Washington ranks 41st nationally. Of particular concern are graduation rates for certain demographics, such as Black and Hispanic/Latino students, students with disabilities, and students from low-income families. Opportunity Washington, a non-profit policy group representing businesses, broke down the data, and it’s worth reviewing.
The rate of bachelor degrees awarded is in decline – In 2014, Washington’s colleges and universities awarded 4.5 bachelor degrees for every 1,000 students, earning it rank of 42nd nationally, dropping from a previous ranking of 39th.
There are many ways to measure the progress of our students and our education system. As state lawmakers look to invest billions of dollars in education as part of current budget talks, they should consider driving dollars towards policies and practices that move the needle on these and other important areas.