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 and education funding as the highest priorities for the state. In recent years, Washington has experienced periods of rapid student population growth and disproportionate increases in the number of low-income students, the number of students in special education, and the number of students who have limited English proficiency. These demographic trends converge with increasing accountability standards. At the federal level, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act annually increases performance expectations and sanctions for schools failing to meet NCLB requirements. At the state level, despite the constitutional obligation of the state to provide an adequate education, a significant number of students are falling short of the state’s own expectations, as measured by the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL). In 2005-06, only 51.8% of tenth graders tested in Washington met WASL standards in all three content areas (math, reading, and writing). Students in the class of 2008 who do not meet WASL standards in reading and writing will not be able to graduate from high school. The goal of this study was to determine the level of educational expenditure necessary to make ample provision for the education of all students, providing all students with the skills to meet long-term academic standards, pursue additional learning beyond high school, and become productive citizens and contributing members of society.
Authors: Dr. David T. Conley, Kathryn C. Rooney