Perspectives on Policy


The Opportunity Index, a new 50-state ranking

We’ve joined partners from across the state to celebrate the release of The Opportunity Index, a new 50-state ranking release by Opportunity Washington.  The Index is a data-driven analysis of state performance in the three priority categories of Achieve (education quality and outcomes), Connect (transportation system reliability and efficiency), and Employ (economic vitality).

The Opportunity Score is based on 16 variables across the three categories compiled for each state. Scores can range from 0 to 150+.  The median score is set at 75 and the 10th best state is 100.

How did Washington do?


Washington turns in a good - not great- performance; ranking 24th among the states with an opportunity score of 79.  In short, Washington is stuck in the middle, not bad, but not great. Opportunity for some, not all. There’s plenty of room for improvement.


We invite you to join Opportunity Washington’s efforts by signing up at and following Opportunity Washington on Facebook and Twitter.

- October 7, 2015


2015 Chair's Report: Smart Policy and Strategic Investments for a Better Washington

The 2015 Chair's Report provides a summary of progress against our 2015 Policy Agenda. Key among the year's highlights was the approval of a comprehensive transportation investment package and a balanced budget that makes unprecedented new investments in public education.  

Governor Jay Inslee and the Legislature are to be applauded for policies and critical investments enacted this year that will yield benefits for generations to come. The work doesn’t stop here. As a state, we must continue to improve and adapt for the future, focusing on the fundamentals – education, infrastructure and economic vitality – that will expand opportunity and shared prosperity to all of Washington.

Read the full report.


- Sept. 15, 2015


New 2015 Benchmarking Data: How does WA compare?

What makes a state a great place to live and do business? How does Washington rank on key issues like education quality, transportation efficiency, and economic vitality? Check out new Benchmarks for a Better Washington data for a snapshot of where Washington stands compared to all 50 states, and where there’s room for improvement. 

The Roundtable began tracking the Benchmarks for a Better Washington in 2011 with the goal of making Washington a top 10 state for quality of life and innovation and ensuring it is not one of the 10 most expensive states in which to do business.

As compared to data released in the fall of 2014:•Washington continues to be a leader in private sector job creation, moving up to 4th from 13th among the states.

  • •Education continues to be a concern. With a high school graduation rate of 76.4 percent for the class of 2013, Washington fell to 40th among all states. Rather than moving closer to being a top 10 state, we risk falling into the bottom 10.
  • •Our transportation system doesn’t rate well for quality or efficiency, falling among the bottom 20 states for road and bridge conditions as well as commute times. The state transportation investment approved this year in should help improve those rankings over time.
  • •Business costs continue to be a concern. Washington ranks among the middle third of all states for business tax burden, but the state continues to have the nation’s highest workers’ compensation rates and is among the 10 worst states for unemployment insurance costs.

Get a full look at the Benchmarks here. You can also follow our efforts on Facebook and Twitter.

- September 9, 2015


NEWS: Roundtable Encouraged by Smarter Balanced Results; Urges State to Stay the Course

 The Washington Roundtable is encouraged by results released today from the state’s first administration of Smarter Balanced assessments in English language arts and math for grades 3 – 8, 10 and 11. 

“The Smarter Balanced tests are a valuable tool in assessing student growth and ensuring all students are on track to college- and career-readiness. We are encouraged by this first round of results. While Washington still has some way to go, the results demonstrate that we are on the right path toward ensuring all students are prepared for the world that awaits,” said Steve Mullin, Washington Roundtable president.

“We are pleased with the high test participation rates in grades 3 – 8 and grade 10.  The data captured from these results will help educators identify achievement gaps and provide targeted interventions for students,” Mullin said. 

Mullin added, “We are disappointed by the high test refusal rate in 11th grade.  Because so many students refused to take the test, it will be more difficult to identify and help those students who would benefit from additional resources and targeted assistance.”

Mullin concluded, “We are pleased with this baseline year of Smarter Balanced results, which reflect the hard work of Washington’s educators and students. Washington must stay firm in its commitment to using the standards and assessments as a gauge of student achievement and to ensuring students demonstrate achievement of basic reading and writing skills as one requirement for high school graduation.”

The Washington Roundtable is a nonprofit public policy organization comprised of senior executives from the state’s major employers.  


- August 17, 2015

Employers and college faculty report gaps in recent graduates’ preparedness

According to a new national survey by Achieve, 78 percent of college faculty and 62 percent of employers believe that recent public high school graduates are not sufficiently prepared for the expectations they will face in college and in their careers.

Employers and faculty aren’t alone. In a previous Achieve survey of recent high school graduates, nearly half of the graduates themselves reported not feeling fully prepared for their next steps.

Diving into the survey findings, 96 percent of instructors at two-year colleges reported gaps in their students' preparation, and 82 percent of employers reported at least some gaps in graduates' preparation for jobs in their companies.

These gaps are predominantly in students’ critical thinking, comprehension of complicated materials, work habits, written communication, and problem solving skills. For employers (a reported 61 percent), this results in the need for additional education or training to make up for gaps in reading, writing, or math.

These results have real consequences for the graduates and the economy, and are highly relevant to our state. Washington has a persistent gap between the skills that job candidates have and the skills Washington employers need. Preparing Washington students for the great opportunities that exist here depends on a robust K-12 education system that prepares students for postsecondary education and 21st century careers.

Lawmakers made a landmark new investment in public education during the 2015 legislative session. However, money alone will not assure college- and career-readiness.  We must continue to pursue policies that will result in student achievement gains and ensure every student is ready for the opportunities that await.


- July 23, 2015

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