How do students view Smarter Balanced assessments? New video from the Ready Washington Coalition

We just saw this video and were struck by the poise and wisdom of these two student members of the Washington State Board of Education. 

One line on the tests: “In life, we’re not always going to be able to opt out of things.” Watch these two short videos and draw encouragement from them. 

For more on what Ready Washington is doing, read the group’s latest newsletter and sign up for updates.

We also call your attention to the decision of the state Board of Education to set new minimum scores. As the Seattle Times reports

After a long and sometimes contentious debate, the state Board of Education set new minimum scores Wednesday that high-school students must reach on standardized English and math tests in order to graduate.

The scores are lower than a national consortium recommended would indicate a student is ready for college or a career. State Board members say they represent, in effect, a temporary graduation standard while the state’s students transition to the new, more rigorous Common Core standards.

More on this from the Associated Press.

Finally, an interesting observation on why a decline in community college enrollment may be seen as a good thing. From the Puget Sound Business Journal:

For five consecutive years, enrollment at Washington’s community and technical colleges has dropped. But that decline reflects positive news about Washington state’s economy.

“Our enrollments tend to be counter-cyclical to the economy,” said Laura McDowell, spokeswoman for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

There’s still demand for continuous improvement in training and education, but the observation is well-taken. This observation from our research report remains valid:

One additional year of schooling for employed workers with at least a high school diploma is associated with a real per-capita GDP gain of 17.4 percent and a real wage increase per worker of 17.8 percent. As the Milken [Institute] scholars write, the benefits accrue at every level of postsecondary education:

It is imperative for regions and states to form or encourage pools of human capital so they can gain sustainable competitive advantages in today’s globally interconnected economy. Consequently, universities, community colleges, and accredited technical and vocational training facilities are critical to regional economic growth and prosperity.

With 70 percent of Washington jobs requiring post-secondary education by the end of the decade, the importance of all parts of the state’s higher education system can’t be underestimated. As important, all students must graduate from high school career- and college-ready. High standards and accountability must be maintained.