Thursday, March 14, 2013

Legislative update: Bills addressing early learning K through grade 3 moving foward

How to support Washington's youngest learners continues to be an area of focus during the 2013 legislative session. The Legislature hit a significant milestone on March 13, the date that bills had to be voted out of their house of origin (either the House of Representatives or the Senate).

Among the key early learning issues (birth through third grade) still on the table post-cutoff:

  • Child care subsidies. House Bill 1671 and Senate Bill 5595 are related to child care eligibility. They each create a parent and provider oversight board that
  • Early learning system. House Bill 1723 would create a legislative task force charged with looking at how to streamline the early learning system so that families can more easily access high-quality early learning opportunities at every age. The bill also provides an increase to Working Connections Child Care subsidy rates. 
  • Kindergarten transition. House Bill 1369 would allow kindergarten teachers to use up to five days at the start of kindergarten to meet with families as part of the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS). The Senate passed a measure (Senate Bill 5330) that provides for up to three days for this purpose.
  • Child outcomes. Several bills are still alive that aim to improve student outcomes:
    • Senate Bill 5491 establishes six statewide indicators of educational system health, including how many kindergartners display characteristics of incoming kindergartners on all six WaKIDS domains.
    • Senate Bill 5330 includes several strategies to enhance student outcomes, such as parent involvement coordinators and keeping class sizes in grades K-3 below the average of 25.23 students.
    • Senate Bill 5237 indicates the Legislature's intent to expand the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) to more students next biennium. It also includes language to help ensure students are reading at grade level in grade 3, and support them if they are not. 
    • House Bill 1680 would implement strategies to close the educational opportunity gap.
  • School-age care. House Bill 1547 makes clearer that certain drop-in school-age programs are exempt from child care licensure. House Bill 1968 directs the state Fire Marshal to make rules that help programs in school buildings operate school-age child care programs.
  • Children's privacy. DEL has agency-request legislation (House Bill 1203 and Senate Bill 5198) to allow us to redact children's names and identifying information from public records before releasing them.

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