New case study: The promise of flexible learning

Washington employers will create an estimated 373,000 net new jobs in our state by 2026. Seventy percent of these jobs are expected to require or be filled by workers with a postsecondary credential—such as a degree, apprenticeship, or certificate. Bur our state is facing a crisis in credential attainment. Further, the pandemic has driven alarming drops in postsecondary education enrollment.

Our new case study explores flexible learning models that are driving up postsecondary enrollment. One particularly bright success story comes from the all-virtual Western Governors University in Washington (WGU Washington).  From 2011 to 2019, WGU Washington grew from less than 1,000 to 12,000 students. As of March 2021, there were 13,905 students attending WGU Washington, and enrollment had grown 15.8% in just the last two years.  By comparison, nearly all of Washington’s public two- and four-year institutions experienced enrollment declines during the same time period.

Our case study explores the five reasons WGU Washington cites for enrollment growth: an all-virtual model, flat tuition rate, flexible and student-directed learning, consistent mentoring, and streamlined academic pathways.

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‘You belong in science:’ Fred Hutch builds education pathways




Yusuf remembers learning about robotics and computer science in middle school. “It clicked with me,” he says. “I was good at it, and I enjoyed it.”

During 10th grade at Sammamish High School, Yusuf’s AP chemistry teacher urged him to apply to the two-week Pathways Research Explorers Program at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The program provides high school students from underrepresented communities an immersive, hands-on introduction to cancer biology, lab activities, and research careers.

“I was smiling the whole time. I was having fun,” Yusuf says. “I met a computational biologist while they were explaining what they did. I thought, that’s what I want to do.”

The Pathways Research Explorers Program is a launchpad for many students who go on to participate in Fred Hutch’s more intensive programs as they progress through their academic experiences. Students conduct scientific experiments related to cancer and talk to scientists in various positions, including people from groups systematically marginalized and excluded from research.

After learning about computational biology, Yusuf completed a yearlong internship with Fred Hutch in 11th grade. Through regular meetings with his mentor, a computational biologist, Yusuf learned about both coding and biology, and used machine learning to analyze COVID-19 data.

“It was a new experience that I don’t think I could have gotten anywhere else,” Yusuf says.

“You belong in science”

Through science education outreach, Fred Hutch – a member of the Washington Roundtable, of which Partnership for Learning is the education foundation – actively works to recruit, support, and retain high school and undergraduate students from communities underrepresented in scientific research. Students gain hands-on STEM experience while receiving career guidance and mentorship. Program participants become cancer researchers, computer engineers, and more. The programs also serve as a way for Fred Hutch to build a diverse pool of scientific researchers and engage communities across the state.

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WA high school principals discuss challenges & potential solutions

This fall, the 2021-22 Chief Education Officer (CEO) Network welcomed 6 new members. A partnership between the Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP), Partnership for Learning, Washington Roundtable, and Challenge Seattle, the CEO Network brings a cohort of principals together during monthly workshops and offers access to online curriculum developed by AWSP. Principals are key to attracting and keeping high-quality teachers, according to research cited by the Education Policy Center. The CEO Network meetings are a place for principals to connect with their peers across the state, discuss solutions to challenges, and make their voices heard. Members have expressed the value of having a dedicated space with their peers to discuss topics such as grading, COVID, hiring, and credits. Read More

Career Connect Washington Program Directory

To make it easier for young people to access local programs and pathways to economic success, Career Connect Washington has created an online, statewide directory of all levels of career connected learning opportunities. This directory is designed to be used by students, families, young adults, educators, and school counselors—in short, anyone who is in a position to help people between 15-30 prepare for their Next Big Thing.

The Career Connect Washington Program Directory allows users to search by interest, location, and intensity level. They can also filter their results by education level, program type, and wage range, and have the ability to connect to support resources.

High school principals connect with postsecondary ed representatives

High school principals have a lot on their minds this month as they work to support teachers and students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning and sharing experiences with other principals is valuable while they navigate similar challenges, such as grading, attendance, and planning for graduation. The Chief Education Officer (CEO) Network – a partnership between the Association of Washington Principals (AWSP), Partnership for Learning, Washington Roundtable and Challenge Seattle – brings a cohort of Washington high school principals together this school year for monthly virtual workshops and offers access to online curriculum developed by AWSP.

The November CEO Network meeting offered an opportunity for principals connect with one another, as well as engage with representatives from postsecondary education groups and institutions around admissions, as well as resources for high school families and counselors.Read More

Guiding Students on the Path to Achieving Big Dreams

Washington is home to a diverse economy with a broad range of anchor industries, including agriculture, aerospace, health care, retail, technology, and more. Increasingly the jobs available in our state are being filled by workers who have completed a postsecondary credential – such as a degree, apprenticeship, or certificate. Washington students have questions about how they can best set themselves up for success after high school. Planning and taking action through middle and high school will support students on their path to fulfilling their career dreams.

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High School and Beyond Planning 101

I’m a parent or guardian. How should I be involved with my child’s Plan process?

Regularly reviewing and updating the Plan with your child throughout middle and high school is one step you can take. Check in with your student about their Plan regularly – consider asking if you can see it and what your child is doing now to meet their goals. You can also ask your student’s teachers and counselor for more information.

Watch this short video from Ready Washington to learn more, and visit their website at www.readywa.org/beyond for information in English and Spanish.

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“High School is Just the Beginning.” Q&A With Fanuel Abraha

Fanuel Abraha is a senior at Edmonds-Woodway High School. He also has big dreams and a clear plan to achieve those dreams. Fanuel was featured in our latest #CredentialEssential campaign video about the success of the Edmonds School District in enrolling students into education and training programs after high school.

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Science Education in WA: Learning with ‘Hands and Minds’




Walk into a science classroom at Cedarcrest Middle School in Marysville, and you will see hands-on, minds-on learning. Exploring concepts such as gravity, light, and energy happens with investigative projects where students ask questions, experiment, process with their classmates, and iterate.

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