Did you know there are nearly 130 different community indicators on Walla Walla Trends - each updated throughout the year? But which ones, and when?

This issue of the Walla Walla Trends blog lists the most recently updated indicators on the Walla Walla Trends website.  

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1.1.1 Per Capita Personal Income
Average income in the county in 2021 jumped 6% over 2020. This is after the Washington State Penitentiary population is excluded. The last three years have brought unprecedented income increases to the county, outpacing the U.S., but not Washington

1.3.7 Net Jobs Created at 25% Higher Earnings
2021 marked the best year tracked for jobs created that pay considerably more than the prior year average.

1.5.2 Total Property Tax Roll
This measure reflects changes in taxable property in the county. Between 2020 & 2021, it increased 3.5%. On a per capita basis, the tax role in county is still much lower than statewide.


3.2.3 City of Walla Walla Annual Water Consumption
In 2021, the city’s per capita water consumption jumped by over 50 gallons per day from its 2020 experience. Some of that increase was undoubtedly tied to the very low summer rainfall.


4.4.3 The Number and Rate of County Residents without Health Insurance
The recently released estimate for 2021 showed the County’s count of residents without health insurance dipping below 4,000. This is best ever outcome except for 2017. The 2021 rate in the county, at 6.8%, was considerably below that of the U.S. but a bit above Washington’s.



2.1.2 Kindergartener Readiness
Educators like to see children entering kindergarten with readiness in all six domains. Typically, less than half of the county’s children have met that level. For the most recent year, however, the share was close to 50%, largely matching the Washington average.

2.2.1 FTE Students per FTE Teachers
Public school district in the county have traditionally boasted a lower number of students per teacher than the Washington average. The current school year is no different, with the ratio of the number full-time students to teachers at 14.5.

2.4.2 Local Levy Revenue per Pupil & as a share of County Personal Income
In the aftermath of the McClary decision by the Washington State Supreme Court, the role of the local levy plays a diminished role. Per (student) capita levels have declined and are slightly lower than the Washington state average.

2.5.1 Regional Graduation Rates for the County’s 4-year Institutions
Whitman College has enjoyed one of the highest graduation rates of all higher ed institutions in Washington state. With a value of 89%, the experience of the Whitman class of 2021 was little different than in the past. The rate for Walla Walla University, while much lower at 64% for its class of 2021, represents a major improvement from two decades ago.

2.6.3 Population with a BA Degree or Graduate Degree
The share of the county population with a Bachelor’s degree or higher has remained largely the same over the past decade. The most recent estimate from the Census Bureau puts it at nearly 30%. This is far lower than the Washington average and considerably lower than the U.S. average.


list updated 12.12.2022

The complete list of Walla Walla Trends can be found here.

Blog Feature: SBA Scores in Walla Walla County

Student Math Scores Drop to Record Low Due to Pandemic!

Not surprisingly, the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic were felt throughout K-12 education as teachers and students adjusted to shutdowns, shifted to online modalities, and endured disruptions in traditional classroom settings due to meet evolving health protocols. What might be surprising, however, is the extent to which student test scores fell.

The results of the first post-pandemic standardized testing reveal that only one in five 10th graders in the county is currently meeting math standards! Walla Walla Trends 2.3.1 shows the share of students meeting math standards as measured by the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA). Prior to the pandemic, the rate was one in three 10th graders in the county were able to meet or exceed state math standards. This is a drop of twelve percentage points in just two years and represents the lowest share of students meeting math standards since the state moved to the common core based SBA computerized assessment.  

The decline in math assessment scores is not unique to the county, but rather was felt across the state and the nation as well. Across the state of Washington, the passing rate for 10th grade students fell from 50% to 25% -- still above the county rate.

Lower SBA math scores reflect less preparedness for the next sequence in math instruction. Simply put, students are less prepared when moving on to the next level math class. And this does not imply that either teachers or students are to blame. To the contrary, educators and learners showed incredible resiliency in their ability to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic. However, when students are not exhibiting core competencies in math it can cause much frustration.

Even though a student passed all of the HS math requirements, this does not guarantee readiness for college math. As a result of the pandemic, recent high school graduates entering higher education institutions are more likely to struggle with college math curricula. Parents who often share in the financial burden of their college students are also likely to be frustrated. And college faculty are likely to be frustrated because they have to simultaneously provide more remedial work and also ensure that their students can advance to the next course in the sequence.

To be fair, academic slide is not new. Every fall, teachers lament the drop in learning that occurs over summer breaks. In fact, some of the significant drop in SBA test scores could be attributed to the assessments being delivered in fall rather than spring of 2021. However, the effects of extended school closures, partial / modified re-openings and the switch to online learning as well as the emotional and social toll of the pandemic are likely the largest factors contributing to the decline in the share of students meeting math standards.

And even though schools are packed with talented educators and students have shown themselves to be extremely resilient, there can be costs if learning losses are not recovered. A recent study published by the OECD on The Economic Impacts of Learning Losses suggest that a less skilled work force could lead to lower rates of national economic growth. A loss of one-third of a year in effective learning could lower a country’s GDP by an average of 1.5% over the remainder of the century.