Superintendent Reykdal’s First Year Accomplishments
Removed OSPI from a lawsuit against school districts: OSPI has a responsibility to support our districts. It is not illegal to use local levies for compensation.
Developed a new statewide accountability plan: OSPI submitted our consolidated Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan in September. After one round of feedback, final approval is expected shortly. This plan puts unprecedented attention on closing opportunity and achievement gaps.
Laid out a 6-year vision for public education in Washington state, which includes making all students in K–8 bilingual, offering more time for recess and lunch breaks, giving parents and families more tools to stay involved in their child’s education, granting students more pathways to high school graduation, and more.
Reorganized and diversified OSPI Cabinet: We cannot close opportunity gaps and have critical conversations about disproportionate impacts on underserved populations until diverse voices are at the highest levels shaping policy and budget priorities. The Cabinet leadership team at OSPI has been transformed from 11 percent members of color to 32 percent; and from 17 percent women to 58 percent! We are making progress to ensure our leadership team reflects the diversity of our students.
Created a new Government Relations team at OSPI: Empowering the talented people at OSPI required a new Government Relations (GR) team whose mission is to support the policy, program, and budget experts throughout the agency. Our new GR team is connecting OSPI experts with legislators to ensure the highest level of customer service.
Created a Legislative and Policy Advocacy Team within OSPI: We created a broad team of employees who meet weekly during the legislative session to ensure individuals are empowered in their policy areas to shape legislation and budgets, and to communicate with each other. Breaking down silos requires changes in personnel, meeting structure, and at times, organizational structure.
Merged CTE into our Learning and Teaching division: Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways need to be expanded in our schools. We can no longer treat CTE as an alternative – it’s core to 70 percent of the jobs in our state! OSPI will now ensure our programs and policies related to CTE are not standalone to the larger teaching and learning enhancements we are making in Washington state. Our public schools are the number one contributor to a highly functioning workforce.
Created an Educator Growth and Development team at OSPI centered on supporting educators in Washington throughout their career. This office includes our staff focused on educator effectiveness, teacher certification, and educator awards and recognition.
Created a System and School Improvement team at OSPI to put the focus of school accountability on supporting specific student populations that need additional resources and interventions to foster their growth and achievement.
Completed a third party capacity review of the agency: We brought in a third party to evaluate OSPI’s capacity to carry out our work.
Completed a Baldrige Performance Evaluation of the agency, where all staff were surveyed; over half the staff were interviewed in person; and approximately 10,000 educators, school board directors, superintendents, and principals were asked to provide feedback on the quality of OSPI’s services. This data is the foundation for performance changes in our organization.
Created a Human Resources position specifically for equity and professional learning: We are creating a new staff position within our Human Resources office specifically devoted to equity and professional development of our OSPI team members.
Strengthened OSPI communications with the public by using social media platforms more frequently to highlight the incredible work of our school districts and OSPI.
Continued listening and learning tour across the state: We traveled over 8,000 miles within the state to listen, learn, and take feedback on how to perform better as an organization by more effectively serving districts.
Opened up a fresh market breakroom for OSPI staff: With no communal space for our staff to take breaks and eat their lunches, it’s tough for them to want to get away from their desks. The market serves as a place for staff to rest, engage each other, and access foods much healthier than those offered by existing vending machines!
Passed agency-request legislation (HB 2224, 2017) to reduce standardized testing and open up graduation pathways to students who demonstrate proficiency by means other than a high-stakes standardized test.
Partnered with the Legislature and the Governor’s Office to transform our state’s K–12 finance system to bring it into legal compliance. The “McCleary funding plan” (2017) satisfies the basic requirements of K–12 education and will serve as a foundation for the much larger investments and transformation changes we will need over the next 20 years and beyond. The new plan:
- Improves educator compensation, especially for beginning teachers;
- Restores professional development days for all school employees;
- Better supports struggling students;
- Improves pathways in career and technical education;
- Reduces reliance on local property taxes to fund school;
- Increases transparency and accountability of education funds;
- Protects collective bargaining rights at the district-level for compensation; and
- Creates a new statewide health and benefits plan for all school employees.
Secured funding from the Legislature to create enhanced data systems: The new data systems will act as the state’s new accountability index (required under ESSA) and will show districts and schools where they need to improve.
Supported the Voting Rights Act: OSPI very publicly supported the Voting Rights Act legislation because I firmly believe our school boards must reflect the diversity of our students!
Teamed up to fund 100% of AP/IB exam fees for low-income students: We partnered with the Lt. Governor’s Office, the College Success Foundation, and private businesses to cover the full costs of Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exam fees for low-income students in 2017. On OSPI’s part, we were able to reallocate almost $900,000 from federal Title I, Part A funds and secure a $75,000 appropriation from the State Legislature. In the end, we subsidized 20,579 AP and 1,313 IB exams for low-income students!
Supported all four political caucuses: High quality public education should not be a partisan issue. We are focused on providing information, data, and analysis to all four political caucuses of the Legislature to ensure their needs are met and good education policy is shaped by the expertise at OSPI.
Partnered with legislators to initiate a bill to clarify roles and responsibilities between OSPI and the State Board of Education (SBE): With the Legislature poised to invest billions more into our schools and the federal government returning more accountability control to the states, it is essential that we clarify roles and responsibilities between state-level education agencies. SBE and OSPI now have a draft bill of mutual agreement.
Insulating Washington State from Harmful Federal Policy Changes and Considerations
Stood up for students’ civil rights: We affirmed our commitment to equity and stood up for the civil rights of our students in the face of federal executive orders that could harm our students and their access to a high-quality, inclusive, learning environment.
Joined a West Coast advocacy team with California and Oregon to send a joint letter to our congressional delegations asking them to maintain funding for Title II, Part A grants to support effective teaching.
Published a blog post defending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and urged the public to push their congressional representatives to protect those impacted. We directly communicated with Washington’s congressional delegation to protect DACA students.
Key Personnel the Superintendent Hired to Lead the Agency
Deputy Superintendent: Michaela Miller is our Deputy Superintendent. Michaela has a doctorate in Education, she is a former teacher, and she leads our efforts in all manner of education policy, programming, and student outcomes. She and her team of assistant superintendents make up the backbone of our core mission at OSPI.
Chief of Staff: Jamila Thomas is our Chief of Staff. Jamila leads the work of integrating our vision with our operational needs. She works hard to better our agency policies and processes to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in all we do.
Chief Financial Officer: Lisa Dawn-Fisher is our Chief Financial Officer. Lisa comes to us after serving in a similar capacity in the Texas Education Agency for many years and a brief stint at the Evergreen State College. Lisa leads an incredible team that is focused on operating and capital budget issues, accounting, and virtually everything else fiscal related.
Executive Director of Government Relations: Dave Mastin serves as the Executive Director of our new Government Relations (GR) team. Dave has built a diverse and highly functioning GR team that is empowering our leaders in education policy and programs to shape education policy in our state.
Executive Director of Career and Technical Education (CTE): Rebecca (Becky) Wallace is the head of our new CTE department. Becky is respected statewide and she leads a team focused on elevating and restoring CTE pathways to graduation and beyond for more students.
Assistant Superintendent of Special Education: Glenna Gallo is our Assistant Superintendent of Special Education. Glenna came to us after serving the Utah State Board of Education in the same capacity. Glenna is a former special education teacher and coordinator, as well as a former adjunct professor.
Assistant Superintendent of Educator Growth and Development: We created this position and hired Cindy Rockholt, a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) and mentor, to lead it. Cindy leads a dynamic and hardworking team focused on educator certification, mentoring, development, and more.
Assistant Superintendent of System and School Improvement: Tennille Jeffries-Simmons is our Assistant Superintendent of System and School Improvement. Tennille came to us from Spokane Public Schools, where she served as their Chief Human Resources Officer. Tennille’s team is leading the charge in shifting our accountability mindset to a focus on support and improvement.
Assistant Superintendent of Student Engagement and Support: Martin Mueller is our Assistant Superintendent of Student Engagement and Support. Martin has a long history of supporting students, including roles in substance abuse intervention and prevention, school safety, and social service and education policy. Martin leads a hardworking and passionate team focused on supporting students and all of their needs as they work toward high school graduation.
The Superintendent’s Focuses for the Next Year and Beyond
- Support the Legislature to make the necessary changes to the McCleary bill so school districts and educators can deploy effectively.
- Support school districts as we transition to a new finance and accountability system.
- Build out the research and a statewide conversation supporting more instructional hours, specifically universal second language learning for all students beginning in kindergarten.
- Enhance dual credit opportunities and work with policymakers to lower the costs for more families.
- Develop a 2019–21 biennial budget request that reflects the needs of students, educators, and districts for the next 20 years of educational transformation.
- Complete new mission, vision, and values statements for our organization.
- Finalize new equity and strategic plans to guide the decisions and processes at OSPI.