SB 5054, to cut classroom learning time in schools by four hours a week

Feb 8, 2023

Key Findings

  1. SB 5054 would reduce classroom learning time by four hours a week by changing the legal definition of “instructional hours” to which students are entitled.
  2. The proposed cut in instructional hours comes as schools are receiving record levels of funding, over $18.8 billion in education spending.
  3. SB 5054 is being proposed as the level of academic achievement provided students in the public system is falling.
  4. On the 2022 Smarter Balance state tests public schools failed to educate 62 percent of students adequately in math, and failed to educate 49 percent of students adequately in reading.  
  5. SB 5054 would set the precedent of filling classrooms with district staff not qualified to teach.
  6. The declining performance of the public system is one reason 46,000 families have withdrawn their children, and sought learning alternatives elsewhere.
  7. SB 5054 would deny Washington’s students the education they have been promised, at a time when school funding and teacher pay are at record-high levels.



The sponsors of SB 5054 say the purpose of their bill is to “promote and facilitate the use of professional learning communities.” The text of the bill, however, indicates its effect would be to reduce classroom learning time for public school students by four hours a week.

Current state law, RCW 28A.150.220, requires that each of Washington 295 school districts provide students a certain guaranteed minimum of classroom instruction time with a certified teacher.

School officials are to provide at least 1,080 hours of classroom learning time for students in grades nine through 12. School officials are to provide at least 1,000 hours of classroom instruction time for students in grades one through eight, and they are to provide at least 450 hours of classroom time for students in kindergarten.

Most school districts fulfill these requirements by providing six hours of instruction every weekday for students in grades nine through 12, for a total of 180 school days a year.

This Legislative Memo provides an overview of SB 5054 and reviews how its provisions would cut student learning time in Washington’s public schools.

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