Monday, February 26, 2007

The Conley Report, Part I: Executive Summary

First in a series of looks at the Washington Adequacy Funding Study by Dr. David Conley of the University of Oregon, and a good guess as to where the school funding lawsuit might go.

The very first sentence of the report is that pesky quote from the state constitution:

The constitution of the state of Washington declares, “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.” This establishes education funding as the highest priorities for the state.

We then review the methodology, which is similar to what Picus and Odden did in the Washington Learns report, before they get into the specific interventions required to meet the obligation laid out by the state constitution. Found on page v of the introduction, these include:

  • Full day kindergarten
  • Class size reduction in the elementary grades
  • “Career Academies” at the high school level
  • Expanded time, through summer school or tutoring
  • Expanded ELL programs
  • Additional extracurricular programs
  • More professional development
  • Coaches for teachers
  • Better training for substitutes
  • Support for Sped teachers to reduce the paperwork load
  • An upgrade to the technology replacement cycle
  • Counselors!
  • Parent involvement and outreach coordinators
  • Behavior support programs
  • Additional campus security

I’m assuming that each area will be expanded on as we work our way through the report.

The executive summary also gets into the numbers, which are startling (page vi):

This study determined that the average per student expenditure level needed to provide an adequate education to every K-12 Washington student in 2004-2005 was $11,678. This is $3,613 per student above the baseline level, or a 45% increase. As noted above, the study employed multiple methods in a progressive fashion to generate an increasingly precise final figure.

For a district my size (2000 kids), that would mean about $7,000,000 more.


If I knew how to embed sounds in HTML, I’d put a whistle effect here.

The report also calls for more salary differentiation beyond what is provided for in the salary allocation model (SAM) that we go off of, better known as the state salary schedule:

The comparable teacher wage analyses yielded recommendations for teacher salary increases of 28% in Seattle, 27% in Richland, 16% in Tacoma, and 17% in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area…… The school-level hedonic model indicated a need for salary increases of $3,000 per teacher in schools where 60%-80% of the student population was low-income and increases of $5,000 per teacher in schools where 80%-100% of the student population was low-income. These wage adjustments would increase the ability of all schools and districts to recruit and retain the best teachers and would create a greater likelihood that schools and districts with high proportions of low-income students would be able to compete for the best teachers with schools and districts with lower proportions.

This again echoes some of the work that was done with Washington Learns, previously blogged about here, where they too recommended salary differentiation by region (and I’ll say again that I can’t understand how Richland, of the Tri-Cities, can be almost as expensive as Seattle).

I also don’t see the problem with offering salary incentives to try and lure teachers to high-need schools. The official story from the WEA is that we should raise salaries for all teachers and go from there, but I don’t think it’s a bad entry point to raise salaries for some teachers and then work on getting everyone else to follow.


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5:19 AM  

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