November 27, 2006
The soft bigotry of low expectations

Mrs. Gregoire proposes postponement of WASL math requirement:

[Mrs.] Gregoire said Monday that she will propose to the Legislature that students will not have to pass the math section of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning to graduate from high school at least until 2011 ... The class of 2008 was supposed to be the first required to pass the WASL in order to graduate.

"I want to let students and parents know that we are listening to their concerns and we believe this plan promotes math skills without penalizing responsible, hardworking students and teachers," Gregoire said.

If the WASL is faulty, then it should be fixed. But scrapping standards altogether? (raise your hand if you believe this would be the last postponement) Handing a diploma to a kid who hasn't mastered basic skills does nothing but penalize the kid.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at November 27, 2006 02:54 PM | Email This
Comments
1. Maybe the whole system is flawed, teaching kids to take tests really does not help them in the real world (unless you write the tests).

Posted by: Cato on November 27, 2006 03:01 PM
2. More evidence the moonbats will do anything except address the real problem. Instead of diplomas, why not just hand out attendance certificates? I just don't understand how Fraudoire and the WEA can sleep at night knowing they are dooming so many to bleak futures. Oh wait, that would require a conscience, something Fraudoire and the WEA don't have.

Posted by: Burdabee on November 27, 2006 03:22 PM
3. Cato, if students cannot be expected to pass a test for proof they have learned something in school, then the diploma they earn is not worth the paper it's printed on.

Posted by: Palouse on November 27, 2006 03:38 PM
4. I've worked with my high school aged sons with their math. I can tell you the problem is not with the students, it rests squarely on the school.

The math book my 11th grader has is full of errors and is not very clear. After asking my son abou the errors and getting "the teacher doesn't care" response I met with the teacher. His idea of teaching is to hand the kid the book and dishing out assignments each day. I pointed out the errors and my son was right. He did not care. The book they use is specifcly designed to improve the wasl scores. He made it real clear the only goal is scores. It does not matter if they actually learn anything.

What a joke.

Posted by: Vince on November 27, 2006 03:44 PM
5. Let the WASL be optional entirely. Then, if a kid takes the WASL and passes, his or her diploma should indicated that he or she has done the work for a diploma (we hope) and passed the WASL. The other kids who elect not to take the WASL can still graduate (providing they do the work to graduate), but their diplomas won't indicate anything about the WASL.

Let the market place decide who gets hired and who doesn't or who gets into college and who doesn't.

What's wrong with my idea, O Conservative Ones?

Posted by: Libertarian on November 27, 2006 03:44 PM
6. As reported in the local Hearst Publishing puppy housebreaking wiper-upper:

"The Legislature already has approved over $28 million in grants for tutoring and other math help."

That will fix everything. Everybody can go back to watching Divorce Court and Jerry Springer while your kids are "tutored."

Posted by: Tyler Durden on November 27, 2006 03:54 PM
7. Let the market place decide who gets hired and who doesn't or who gets into college and who doesn't.

Excellent idea. So you're in favor of eliminating work quotas and race-based admissions? Good for you. Now, get the liberals on board and we may have something. Good luck.

Posted by: jimg on November 27, 2006 03:55 PM
8. How about they just don't have to be able to read or do math to graduate?

Oh yeah, that's already happening....

Posted by: Me on November 27, 2006 04:13 PM
9. Cato, there is a huge difference between teaching a subject to students so they can pass a test, versus teaching to a test. If the test is good enough, why not teach to the test. If the test is flawed, then teaching to it is flawed, as well. Now you tell me, is the WASL a good test or not? I am increasingly of the belief that it is not a good test. But too many public schools are even failing at teaching to a flawed test.

Burdabee, you ask how Gregoire and the members of the WEA can sleep at night? Alchohol is the answer, if I remember my Orwell correctly.

Libertarian, do you truly believe you are injecting wisdom into the discussion? What is the difference between possessing a diploma with or without a WASL stamp, versus having or not having an old-fashionied diploma? Surely if the WASL stamp is optional, promoters of low expectations will start whining about the unfairness of the market place in choosing who gets hired on the basis of a stupid little piece of tinfoil on a stupid piece of paper. You know that, don't you? You really are adding nothing new to the debate. And please do not assume that everyone who reads this board is conservative. Your bias is showing.

Tyler Durden,, did the P-U say if the tutoring was needs based, that is, only for the poor?

Posted by: huckleberry on November 27, 2006 04:15 PM
10. Ooooooo, more Orwellian doublethink from Her Fraudulence, according the Seattle P-U

-A better and unified curriculum. Districts now use over 40 different programs and many are failing to prepare students for the WASL, Bergeson said. The idea is to identify one or two world-class instructional systems and then require use if the old system isn't working for a particular district, she said.
Bergeson conceded that's "pretty radical for this state," but Gregoire bristled at the suggestion that the state was knocking a big hole in local control of schools.
"That's not state control - it's best practices," the governor insisted.
Posted by: huckleberry on November 27, 2006 04:25 PM
11. Meanwhile, you can rest assured that the people who oversee education in China and India are NOT relaxing standards: Education has been revered in both of those countries for centuries.

Meanwhile, over here: Almost everything sold at Wal-Mart and much that is sold at other chains is already made in China. Even though there are problems with out-sourcing service and support jobs to India, they will keep working on it and getting better. With the manufacturing base and even fairly high-level support going elsewhere, what are we left with:

A small and getting ever-smaller segment of our population with either a very good education or inherited money or both at the top, and masses of people with limited education at the bottom; with the relative ''education gap'' between the US and China / India growing worse all the time.

I'm not saying everything is a disaster:
At the high end, we still have on balance the best college and university system in the world; especially at the graduate level at the best schools (that's why so many students from India and China finish their graduate studies here).

But for the US population as a whole.... what is the latest statistic ??.. Effectively somewhere around one-third of all US teenagers do not even graduate from HIGH-SCHOOL (note the ''effectively''; i.e.: They may get some kind of piece of paper saying they have a high-school diploma or the ''equivalent'' of same, but objectively they are not at or even close to that level).

SIDEBAR: Serious readers of this list HAVE read Tom Friedman's ''The World is Flat'', right ??..

Posted by: Methow Ken on November 27, 2006 04:35 PM
12. The state of Washington doesn't teach math effectively and the WASL is a meaningless test that has never been objectively proven to be a good measure of math ability. So I guess we have the best of both worlds.

The primary reason math isn't taught well is that the average teacher in this state doesn't understand math. The biggest problem is at the elementary school level. I bet if you checked their SAT scores, they would almost uniformly be below average. And I bet almost none took a math class in college other than an one in the education department.

Tutors are fine, but what we need are people in the elementary schools who can teach basic concepts. Spend the money on those specialists, and maybe we will see some improvement.

Posted by: janet s on November 27, 2006 04:37 PM
13. There has not been a concern for ethics/integrity among the women who are "leading" this state for nearly 20 years. I know of one woman (about 55) who did the dance of the seven veils (right down to the full bare nothings) for her final project for a course in a Master's Degree program. What do you thing the administration said? "pass her on, we need the money" (it was a private school).

When Gregoire was Attorney General she had the whistleblower laws re-written so that anyone reporting fraud in academia cannot claim whistleblower process/protection.

The WASL was written by people of integrity trying to get a handle on the completely corrupt public school system. These people were trusting and naive enough to believe that educators would really try to do better. All that has happened is that the liberals have made the taking of tests and standards a media circus--They will do whatever it takes to prevent charter schools, or any other alternative solution that would interfere with their dominance over the money trough!

Posted by: anonymous on November 27, 2006 04:38 PM
14. did the P-U say if the tutoring was needs based, that is, only for the poor?

Huck - not reported. Besides, that type of assessment would require accountability - something the schools don't (Vote for one) a. understand or b. choose to ignore.

Likely only for the poor since society tells us that kids who live in certain ZIP Codes never get a good education let alone clothes, shoes, X Box 360's, movies, and Disneyland while kids who live in other ZIP Codes get it all - don't they?

Posted by: Tyler Durden on November 27, 2006 04:42 PM
15. design a non-comparable achievement test; teach to same; watch kids fail; slam any & all education alternatives; order more studies & taxes; start over; looks like a gerbil in a wheel cage running like hell.

bite the bullet; back to basics; 3 R's; fire the heads & middle edu-system bureaucrats for "failure to thrive." start over. fail kids & let them know why they failed, feel some shame & explain failure won't work in the real world. forget the "feel good" and "diversity " lessons that serve only the consultants. then, help kids with volunteers & concerned parents/teachers.

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on November 27, 2006 05:05 PM
16. Gregoire, Why don't you just hand out High school degrees to every 15 or 16 year old in the state.

Then cancel the State tax and City tax on all property.

We just give everyone a High School degree no matter what!

So maybe then College degree's would be free to any that asked for them.

I would then suggest that you have your next major medical operation done by one of these free degree's, it would be good for the state!

Posted by: GS on November 27, 2006 05:16 PM
17. If you can't beat them, Join them...

Christine Gregoire!

Posted by: Christine Gregoire on November 27, 2006 05:19 PM
18. The trouble is, kids don't care to learn if they don't know why the subject matter that they are learning is important. If subjects are taught in such a way as to allow the kids to see the personal value of what they are learning, by teachers who care, then they will learn. If not, then it's a roll of the dice as to whether a particular kid has the self-motivation to get through whatever false curriculums that the WEA proposes.

Vince is right. Open any typical textbook today and take a look at the subject matter. There's all the pretty sidebars, garbage politically correct real world appliques and other nonsense. And the material is almost always out of hierarchical order and fraught with errors.

And then there's the "curriculum frameworks" such as Investigations, otherwise known as the "New Math." Many school districts throughout the US, including Tacoma's, have now jettisoned the New Math approach. Now there is a return to favor of Saxon math. or more traditional math curricula where the emphasis is back on actually solving math problems for each math skill and learning math in the correct hierarchical order.

It's no wonder that Gregoire has to suspend WASL math requirements. Both the WASL as an end in itself and the poor curriculum that doesn't teach math in the first place has lead to a failure in real math learning.

Parents should provide extra math tutoring using older and more traditional math textbooks if they want to make sure their children learn real math skill geared towards a future in a technical profession.

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 27, 2006 05:20 PM
19. The problem with the WASL's is that they are created to test college bound students, rather than to test whether schools are capable of prividing a basic level of education in the 3 R's.

I see no problem in having SAT's or their equivalent as college entrance exams, we have done this fo a long time and it was relatively successful in weeding out those who didn't belong in college.

Making HS graduation conditional upon passing the WASL however was just plain wrong. It guaranteed that 20% (or more) of test takers would fail to graduate. These are the marginal students who NEVER would have gone to college or, if by some fluke or influence got in, not have finished.

Posted by: deadwood on November 27, 2006 05:41 PM
20. Deadwood... the WASL is not a college entrance examination, nor was it ever intended as such. You have fabricated a complete fiction here, which I hope you will soon explain or retract.

In fact, the Washington Assessment of Student Learning is intended to measure competency with the Essential Learnings that were put forward a number of years ago by the governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Student Learning. (Before your time, perhaps?) The Essential Learnings, as the name implies, were considered to be a battery of knowledge and skills that typical young adults should have mastered if they wanted to be considered employable. Failing to pass the test of essential learnings is supposed to be an indicator of, well, of being stupid, I guess. Did somebody change the charter of WASL when I wasn't looking?

Posted by: huckleberry on November 27, 2006 06:10 PM
21. I have always opposed tests as a criteria for graduation from high school. Some kids are good test takers and others are not; some have a bad day and it lowers their scores; some kids cheat and its not fair to the others. The schools are not doing a good job of teaching anything. Next they will postpone the English section, then the other section, etc. until finally only a few kids will take the test to get a certificate. It's all a charade to try to persuade parents and taxpayers that the teachers are doing their job. It is appalling the number of students who have to take remedial courses once they are accepted at a college.

Posted by: Clean House on November 27, 2006 06:11 PM
22. Gotta love Cato's kickoff comment.

May he someday undergo surgery by a urologist who scoffed at the MCAT.

Posted by: Rey Smith on November 27, 2006 06:18 PM
23. As someone who has taken the WASL Math test(during it's trial period), I think it is a horrible test. It wasted two of our math class periods, testing to make sure I knew concepts that I learned 2 and 3 years ago. The worst aspect of the test was that were were required to provide written answers to math problems. The way the test is designed, it is possible to get more points for an incorrect answer that is well argued than you can receive for a poorly argued correct answer. Simply writing a formula for how you reached your answer was not acceptable.

This is a test of basic math skills. Questions have an absolute answer.

Posted by: etowncoug on November 27, 2006 06:24 PM
24. The WASL is only testing for an eight grade level. I was told this by my school districts administrator.
My son blew away the WASL last year getting all above average and our school district is in the toilet.
He is going to be able to take it this year in the ninth grade since he did so well. This way it is out of the way for graduation.
The schools are so far behind it takes us parents to keep our kids up to snuff. My son is ahead of all his classes because we push him to do more than the low level the school expects.
He was selected as student of the month last month and he hardly even tried.
The schools around here have set the bar so low that the students end up tripping on it because they can not see it.
I feel if the kids can not pass the eight grade level test by twelfth grade they should not get a diploma.

James S.

Posted by: James S. on November 27, 2006 06:35 PM
25. the most interesting thing is that, if it were Dino Rossi who proposed the legislation you guys would love the idea! Or if OUR Governor stood strong at the 2008 deadline, you'd find some way, any way, to come down on her for it.

it's MUCH easier to fight for principles than it is to live up to them, eh?

Posted by: michaelUW on November 27, 2006 06:54 PM
26. James S. said:

I feel if the kids can not pass the eight grade level test by twelfth grade they should not get a diploma.

I would like to do one better. If the kids can't pass the 8th grade level test by 8th grade, they should not go on to 9th. Why do we lower the bar so that we graduate 12th graders with an 8th grade education? We do none of the high school students any favors by giving them a diploma that the employers will learn is worthless. Used to be employers looked at your college to determine your level of education, and assumed the high school was at least complete. Now I think they will note the school you attend and simply round-file anyone coming from the public high school system to save them time and effort in hiring.

Posted by: Eyago on November 27, 2006 07:41 PM
27. Of course you could help them pass (by cheating)

story in today's PI on "testing irregularities" (clinton speak for cheating)

Posted by: righton on November 27, 2006 07:42 PM
28. The bottom line is that the way the education system is run the test is blamed and the teachers are not blamed. You will hear calls that they need more money. Yet we are spending more than we did 20 years ago and I think the education our students are lower standards than a decade ago.
I have reviewed the scores for ACT and they seem to be about the same. In fact they are higher in some areas but these are the College bound students that take this test. So you get a higher average due to a lot of people do not go on to college and so do not affect this average.
The voters voted to give money to education and the legislature moved it from property tax(moved to general fund) and now take the funding from those taxes collected from those how die. Let see move from a stable money flow source to a source that depends on people dying to collect the inheritance tax. In other words move the money around so they can ask for more taxes. Democratic Party is the party of Taxes and taxes and Taxes. Never a solution just more taxes to support failed programs.

Posted by: David Anfinrud on November 27, 2006 07:45 PM
29. Sorry to join so late, been a snowy night! I recall the Republicans called for higher teacher standards when the Democrat legislature & Governor were calling for smaller class sizes and more money for education and what we got was a compromise..... We would test the students to see if the teachers were teaching!

Seemed pretty good in those early 1990's and when they got done compromising, they came up with the WASL. I recall debating in 1998 that it was not going to test teachers, it only tested students! Then I started noticing the teachers were teaching how to take the test to prove how good they were!

Unless you give a student the answers (and he is able to memorize them) the student can not solve the problem when taking a test.

From personal experience I can tell you a student gets discouraged when they don't know how to do something, not that they didn't get the right answer. Also it is easy learn if you don't fear how to do something.

Example my daughter is a great driver----after she got over the fear the drivers ed instructor hammered into her. Wish we could have seen what it was doing to her math education!

Posted by: Old Sgt on November 27, 2006 08:25 PM
30. 20. Huckleberry... You have fabricated a complete fiction about the purpose of the WASL, which I hope you will soon explain or retract.

In fact, the Washington Assessment of Student Learning is intended to assess the effectiveness of schools and districts. It was never intended as an assessment of individual students. In fact, the technical notes on the test (available on the OSPI web site) specifically warn against doing exactly that. The WASL was part of the education reform effort to hold teachers, schools and districts accountable - not students. Failing to pass the test of essential learnings is supposed to be an indicator of an ineffective school or district - it is not supposed to reflect on the student.

Of course the accountability is being applied upside-down. The first people held accountable, the students, are the people in the system who have the least control. There is no accountability yet for teachers, schools or districts and none on the horizon.

Did somebody change the charter of WASL when I wasn't looking?

Posted by: Charlie Mas on November 27, 2006 08:32 PM
31. Gov. Gregoire: "I want to let students and parents know that we are listening to their concerns..."

As long as the concerns don't concern getting their kids out of failing union-dominated public schools and into an alternate situation that results in the kids learning the three Rs, instead of morally equivalent gobbledygook.

Posted by: Hank Bradley on November 27, 2006 08:38 PM
32. Someone help me out here -- I went to grade school (Catholic, all boys, all nuns) in the 50s and early 60s and I remember that the Black kids (back then if you called them "black" you'd probably have a fight on your hands) were pretty good at math. In fact they were all very good in math. What happened?

Posted by: Lew on November 27, 2006 08:54 PM
33. Lew... read the title of this thread.

Posted by: huckleberry on November 27, 2006 10:03 PM
34. Charlie Mas... you have a mocking tone that makes your point difficult to fathom, if indeed you have one. I think I'd try to get that fixed before putting myself before the public for elective office.

You and I seem to disagree about the purpose of the WASL. The OSPI website says that...

The Washington State Assessment System (WSAS) is composed of three broad programs: statewide standardized testing; classroom-based assessments; and assessment staff development. The statewide testing program focuses on the Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs), which are Washington�s content standards, and provides broad achievement indicators for the state, districts, schools, and individual students.

I do not dispute that the WASL makes an effective tool for evaluating the product of each teacher, each school, and each school district. But I do not recall that ever being the intended purpose of the WASL, as a compromise or any other ways... school evaluation always seemed to be a happy side-effect. Can you cite any references to support your position that the WASL was not intended to evaluate the mastery level of the individual student but was instead intended to measure the competency of schools and districts? I'd be interested to read them. And if you are correct, why are the students' diplomas held hostage to the institution against institution warfare that you suggest?

Posted by: huckleberry on November 27, 2006 10:14 PM
35. The real problem is the kids who are in school now and probably won't be able to earn a diploma have been ill served by their schools up to now. Some one should file a class action lawsuit on behalf of the kids who were given a defective edcuation to require individual tutoring to bring them up to speed. That is what is going on, rather than face a lawsuit and the potential of millions of dollars in liability, the standards are eased.

Posted by: WVH on November 27, 2006 10:39 PM
36. Let me remind very politely that when Dino Rossi was asked about the WASL, he said: "The WASL test, it's controversial, but we mustn't lower our standards. We must make sure our standards are high. Should we periodically review the WASL tests? Absolutely." You can go to Rosenblog, the source, and note that Gregoire never said anything about maintaining standards.

This is why we need to work for Republican governance, not Democrat demogoguery.

Posted by: SVC Alumnus on November 27, 2006 10:54 PM
37. The WASL is a total failure, always has been. Why not use the SAT? Most private schools administer SAT's every year from 1st grade through early high school. A nationally recognized standardized test, with the added bonus that it can assess how Washington children stack up against their peers nationally...but then maybe Washington doesn't really want to publish that information.

I graduated a rural Washington high school in the late 1970's. We took several standardized tests in HS, one of which was the SAT. Near the end of our junior year, the entire class was tested in English and Math at the 8th grade level. If you did not pass the test, you were required to take senior math and senior english. Passing was required for graduation. No fuss, very little expense, and no controversial statewide testing.

Posted by: dl on November 27, 2006 11:11 PM
38. God, what a nightmare on the roads. I hope everyone got home safe and sound. Politics seems secondary at this point.

Posted by: Doug on November 27, 2006 11:35 PM
39. David A...school funding is a sad thing. The annual state education budget (per child) may be larger now than ten years ago, but the dollars that actually arrive at the school building with each child is probably not. IMO there is too much classroom regulation from outside sources, too many chiefs bossing around the indians and it all costs more money.

The last I heard WASL administration had a list of about 8 items they were looking to achieve with this test. According to experts (outside Washington) it misses on almost all counts. For this failure of a test, a large book is published to assist teachers guide their students through the WASL. All public schools, that I am aware of, drop their regular curiculum 6 to 8 weeks prior to WASL test date and work almost exclusively on studies directly related to passing the WASL. On the flip side, of all the private schools testing for the SAT, I am aware of none that actually spend any time specifically studying before the test. Ok, ONE third grade teacher did admit that she presented one subject in one class early because her text taught a necessary concept after their school test date.

My mother retired from a rural school district after 30 plus years. Their teachers hated the WASL. Their student body includes a large number of migrant (attend school out of state/country part of the year) and ESL elementary children. One of their complaints was the difficult rules, such as not being allowed to read the math section rules to the children. (do you remember your teacher reading the rules, answering questions, then setting the clock for each test portion?) The reading portion would be understandable, but it is an unnecessary burden in the math section. Some of their elementary students are not reading at grade level yet, and some speak english better than they read it. Their difficulty reading english adversly affects test scores in non-reading subjects. The good news is that this dedicated district enjoys good success at getting their ESL students working a grade level by the time they leave elementary school, the bad news is that it is not in time for the WASL testing so their test scores are always very low.

Posted by: dl on November 27, 2006 11:56 PM
40. We are friends with a 30 year plus math teacher in the Tacoma school district. She hates the WASL. She comes from the old school where the teachers were allowed to be strict and she taught real math. She says the kids that were victims of the WEA ghoulish New Math experiments are basically toast.

The number one problem is the teacher's unions. In all Gregoire's banter, there's been little mention of the teachers. There ought to be incredibly strict and competitive standards for the teachers and then commensurate good pay for only the good teachers which would come by laying off most of the administrators.. Instead it's all based on seniority and the bad teachers are impossible to fire.

But the Dems just want to raise more tax and then throw more money at the problem. Deja Vu from the 90s.

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 28, 2006 12:12 AM
41. As a moron factory the Seattle School Districy excels.

Posted by: swassociates on November 28, 2006 05:28 AM
42. "Their teachers hated the WASL."

Swell.

So, what do the teachers hating the WASL propose as a replacement?

This entire issue centers on teacher accountability. We, as parents and taxpayers, want it; the WEA and, per force, their democrat lackeys, do not. What Gregoire, et al, are terrified of are an even greater failure rate then the criminally high number they produce now.

If these standards actually have to go into effect, how does she explain the massive failure rate, and the thousands of students unable to graduate with this standard? How would our whining, sniveling WEA be able to continue to defraud the people of this state with automatic pay raises that many of them do not deserve, as they get both the raises AND step increases with a massive, unable-to-pass 8th or 10th grade math requirement?

Simple... they can't.

Solution?

It isn't to fix the system... or even the teachers. From their perspective, it's to get rid of the standard. No standard, no failure.

And, as for all of you demanding we get rid of the WASL, that's nonsense on it's face.

We MUST have SOME standard that ALL students MUST MEET TO GRADUATE.

"Graduation" MUST MEAN SOMETHING.

I have 2 kids who will have to pass the WASL. It doesn't scare us... it doesn't scare them... why does it all scare you?

We cannot simply trust our corrupted, in-it-only-for-themselves-system to properly educate our children. Never mind that we, as taxpayers, are now paying far in excess of $100,000 per child to get them through this system. The idea that we should somehow, almost magically, take the teacher's word for it is simply... bizarre. After all, social promotion to get illiterate children to the next grade level was not a parental development. It was, instead, a teacher implemented system.

There must be accountability... both of the student, and the teacher, if the tens of thousands of dollars spent, and the subsequent piece of paper provided (diploma) are to mean anything. The idea that we graduate children who then must take remedial classes in reading, writing and/or math at our colleges is proof of the waste of billions of dollars of education funding. No one graduating from our public school system should require any remedial classes for anything to enable them to take English, Biology, or college math 101. And that they do require it, and that we must again fund what they should have been forced to learn to graduate in the fist place is simply unconscionable.

Posted by: Hinton on November 28, 2006 06:12 AM
43. Jeff B. "But the Dem's just want to raise more tax and then throw more money at the problem. Deja Vu from the 90's."

Hey Jeff, you will be happy to know that they don't "throw" the money like they did at Deja Vu in the 90's any more. They just slide it under the G-string (Gregoire string), that way they don't let any of it get away!

Posted by: Smokie on November 28, 2006 06:30 AM
44. "buck stops here?"--saw the Big G & Bergeson on TV about the math WASL. all smiles. no announcements of firings or "restructurings" for failure to attain goals. guess we need more studies.

funny how libs, Dems & unions 'want the head' of the head of anything (esp. as now with GB) except when it's their shtick or bailiwick. other countries' students must be hospitalized with twisted ab muscles from laughter after watching us.

are we ever going to REALLY get serious about this? it's pathetic. we once landed on the moon. now, out students can't find their own moons with both hands.

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on November 28, 2006 06:55 AM
45. One of the problems with the WASL is that your kid is at the mercy of the scorer. I would much rather my kid's teachers evaluate their writing and other work. If he or she is making mistakes they can work on it in a timely manner. On the WASL, the kids just get a score and don't get to see what they did wrong or have the opportunity to learn how to correct it. The kids also get points for the wrong answer as long as they can explain their thinking. So we are basically raising a generation of BS'ers.

The time and money wasted on practicing for the WASL is unbelievable. For real fun, try helping a teacher score some practice WASL work.

We have a very good school district, but I feel I used to be able to say that my school district didn't teach to the test. I really can't say that anymore. They seem to be able to strike some balance, but it is still obvious that the WASL has a lot of emphasis in their planning.
I would much rather have a national test that is objective like the ITBS, SAT, ACT etc. I am more interested in how my kids are doing compared to others in the nation than just Washington. It seems every state is coming up with some new test so that the kids can't be compared from state to state. I am angry that my third grader will not get to take the ITBS (what I consider a decent test) and will instead get to take the WASL. He can read almost any thing you put in front of him, he is good in math, is quite bright, but he hates to write. If he could give his answers orally, he would likely do much better than he will if he has to write them. I'll likely just look at the scores and shrug. Sigh...

People keep looking at where education is heading and complaining, but then they keep electing the same people over and over again that are coming up with all these lousy ideas. Who has been in power during all these years? I have good representatives, but they are in the minority which makes them more or less powerless. When you say to people (that live in districts that are dominated by the Union picked candidates), "well maybe we need to work on getting other people elected" they ask "how will that help?" They don't seem to see the connection. The State, County, Local Govt. and Teacher's Unions are probably the biggest taxpayer funded PACS in the state. I am not sure how you overcome that powerhouse.

Posted by: Frustrated on November 28, 2006 07:07 AM
46. Over Thanksgiving, our family made up of about six or more educators had a chat about math and WASLs. I was surprised when even my liberal relatives blasted the education system. One relative said he was asking one of the kids what a denominator was (high school math) and the kid gave him this look only a mother could love.

I told one relative I respected his statement a couple of years ago that "most of the time, if the parent is involved in school with their kid, the kid will end up pretty good". But, I now told him I don't think so anymore. I don't have time to teach my kid basic math- add, subtract, multiply, division, long division and fractions. It is just takes too much time. For the first time I have known him, he was silent.

Posted by: swatter on November 28, 2006 07:29 AM
47. The problem isn't with the students or the schools, it's with the test.

The math portion of the WASL is a complete disaster. You can get all the answers right and still flunk the test, because it turns math into a writing exercise. You have to be able to "explain" why your answer is right, and an explanation in "math language" is not acceptable. In other words, say the question is "If there is an apple on the kitchen table and an orange on the kitchen counter, how many pieces of fruit are there in the kitchen?" The answer of "1+1=2" would get fewer points than "There are three pieces of fruit because one piece of fruit added to another piece of fruit gives you three pieces of fruit."

Posted by: ThreeDimen on November 28, 2006 07:32 AM
48. Huckleberry,

Sorry pardner, but this IS a conservative blog, just as Goldy's horsesass.org is a liberal blog. If you doubt me, go over to horsesass.org and ask the question. True, not everyone who reads the blog is a conservative, but me question was directed at them, just as conservatives and libertarians reas Goldy's blog. I know the liberal answer to my question about the WASL: they don't think the WASL is fair, and everyone should be treated equally, etc., etc. Nobody has given the conservative answer. Should the WASL be an optional test so that those that wish to take it can and those that don't want to take it can skip it?

Posted by: Libertarian on November 28, 2006 08:00 AM
49. Sorry for the poor grammar in the post above: I was interrupted in the middle of things and in a hurry.

Posted by: Libertarian on November 28, 2006 08:02 AM
50. On the news they had a gentleman who made a very good point. NONE of those in charge of determining math education hold a degree in math or even the sciences. No wonder they can't figure out how to teach it!

Posted by: pbj on November 28, 2006 08:03 AM
51. ThreeDimen,

The reason the WASL asks the taker to explain their answer is that there are principles behind the wrote operations. Yes, 1+1=2. 2 is the answer, but if you do not know for instance that addition is commutative (A+B=C, B+A=C), you will not do well in higher mathematics classes in college when you are asked to apply these principles abstractly to addition of things other than simple numbers and provide a written proof that the addition is a valid operation for the set in questions. Why does this matter? One example of "where it matters" is in modern relational databases whose foundation is built upon set theory by a man named E.F. Codd. Prior to this breakthrough, databases were clumsy and inefficient.

Posted by: pbj on November 28, 2006 08:21 AM
52. For those of you who want standards because the word of the teacher handing out the grades is not good enough, please consider many of the cheaper alternatives that we already had. Why not allow ITBS, CAT, MAT, ITED, NMQT, PSAT, SAT, PLAN, ACT, or any of those other tests out there. Students who do very well on these, do not always pass the WASL since it is not so much a knowledge-based test as a writing style test. There is something wrong with a test that gives a better score to someone who has a wrong answer with a good, yet flawed, explanation than to someone who has a straigh-forward correct answer that they do half the work in their head. Not to mention that it would save a lot of tax money. How much did Gregoire ask for this time? A billion? I honestly don't remember. The WASL is most successful at being a sinkful for tax dollars, not at helping students.

Posted by: homemom on November 28, 2006 08:29 AM
53. pbj:
The gentleman has it right. On the same note, I doubt very few of the people who say we need to set aside university slots for unqualified, WASL failing students to enter professional law, medical, and engineering schools (so as to create more diversity in the professions) have degrees in any of the same. They just don't get it.

Posted by: Organization Man on November 28, 2006 08:33 AM
54. It would be interesting to see the SAT math scores of legislators, (the few that have degrees). I would venture to say that most people with above average math scores do not enter politics--they are too smart. And here we are.

Posted by: Organization Man on November 28, 2006 08:38 AM
55. pbj, I take your point. However, the WASL is not a college entrance exam, but an exam for a high school diploma. Yes, someone who wants to major in math should be able to answer geometry questions, but does the person who wants to cut hair or check groceries need those skills?

What I don't understand is why everyone assumes that the problem is automatically with the students and not the test itself. Do Washington students score well below average in math when measured by other tests?

If a student takes all his required courses, does his assignments with passing grades, passes his tests (including his math tests) whose fault is it if he doesn't learn what he's supposed to learn? Why is it okay to tell half of Washington's students "Guess what, kids? You're pretty much doomed for the rest of your life because of the WASL?"

Millions and millions of Americans are productive citizens making a good living who couldn't pass the math portion of the WASL.

Posted by: ThreeDimen on November 28, 2006 09:11 AM
56. Since when is "showing your work" not part of math? EVERY math class I took in grade school required you to show your work to ensure that you understood how to arrive at the correct answer, which was usually filled in on a Scantron form. In long math problems, you could process the equations 99% correct, but if you transpose 1 variable or number, the final answer would be incorrect. This is why most math teachers gave partial credit if you showed the correct work, but made a small transposition error. There is NOTHING wrong with this. In most cases, showing your work meant that students could not just guess at one of the multiple choice answers to a math problem and get lucky with the answer - you had to prove that you knew the concepts.

I had some quantitative methods and statistical classes in college, and if you work wasn't shown and explained properly, you received no credit.

Teachers and students hate the WASL, fine. If there are problems with the test then fix them, but I refuse to believe that the test does not measure any math skills. All I ever see posted is anecdotal evidence of how the test does not measure math skills, but not proof. I am more inclined to believe that the STUDENTS are not getting the proper instruction and learning the necessary math concepts to APPLY their learning.

As they will learn in college (if they get there), they will have open book tests where the answer is not conveniently laid out for them - they will actually have to apply what they have learned (the horror!).

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 09:20 AM
57. pbj @ 51:

I question whether the abstract expression of mathematics is an Essential Learning. When somebody makes my change at K-Mart, commutative arithmetical operations is not an issue. I think the standard you seem to be proposing is better suited to a college entrance exam than an assessment of student essential learning. Of course, if Charlie Mas was right, and the principle purpose of the WASL is to assessment school performance, then your battery of abstract mathematical questions is reasonable.

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 09:23 AM
58.
Libertarian @ 49 & 48 said:

Sorry for the poor grammar in the post above: I was interrupted in the middle of things and in a hurry.

That is all right Libertarian... we conservatives are tolerant of imperfection... as long as that imperfection is not held up as the new standard.

Sorry pardner, but this IS a conservative blog, just as Goldy's horsesass.org is a liberal blog.

Then what purpose did your original phrase "O Conservative Ones" serve? Were you seriously illiciting a response to your suggestion, or just trying to tweak the noses of people you despise? How seriously are you engaged in this conversation?

I know the liberal answer to my question about the WASL: they don't think the WASL is fair, and everyone should be treated equally, etc., etc. Nobody has given the conservative answer. Should the WASL be an optional test so that those that wish to take it can and those that don't want to take it can skip it?

A fair question. I can only speak for this conservative, but I would urge a return to the old method of school accountability. The state is responsible for accrediting a school based on a careful audit of its processes and products, and each school is administered by a locally elected school board who is free to run the district relatively unencumbered by state and federal regulation. The WASL as it is currently constructed and administered violates those conservative principles. The WASL could be abandoned tomorrow, and the world would go on spinning. However, due to the non-conservative outreach of George Bush and Ted Kennedy with their No Child Left Behind Act, our state has opted to use the WASL as an indicator of yearly progress, and our funding and autonomy are threatened by our failure to show good results with the WASL. See where non-conservative principles lead?

Sadly, I see little hope of saving our government schools as long as they are at the mercy of the state and federal governments. True community schools (parochial and private schools) and home schooling are probably the best that can be hoped for.

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 09:34 AM
59. Palouse, that's my point. "Showing your work" is not adequate for the WASL. You have to write an English explanation for the work you just showed. Never in any math class in college was I required to explain in English how I arrived at a specific answer -- showing my work was always adequate. Performing the math was evidence that I understood the concepts; not so for the WASL.

Posted by: ThreeDimen on November 28, 2006 09:40 AM
60. ThreeDimen - are you saying that you had to explain your work in English for every math problem on the WASL? Or was it just a few? I have no problem with explanations of math problems - if it is every problem, then that may be excessive. But explaining the concepts is not a bad thing - it shows that you know more than regurgitating something shown to you in a prep class.

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 09:50 AM
61. Huckleberry @57,

If the best our students can do is barely enough to make change at K-Mart, then we ought not complain when the rest of the world is eating our lunch designing new technologies and and overtaking us as the most prosperous nation on earth.

Is that our highest aspiration for our children, to be able to make change at K-mart? Wow!

If you think the our students with their substandard High School diplomas are going to be competitive with the the nations like India where they pump out PhD's left and right, you are sorely mistaken.

It used to be that one could get by simply with a high school diploma. Not so anymore. There are no more factory for life jobs that didn't require more than a HS diploma. They are gone to the starving third world nations.

If K-Mart cashiering is the highest aspiration for our future generations then we really ought not complain when they are unable to buy a home, a car or adequately feed their children.

Posted by: pbj on November 28, 2006 09:53 AM
62. Paulouse, yes. You have to "explain your answer in detail" for all the questions.

I will always have a problem with a math test where demonstrating that you know how to get the right answer (and there is no multiple choice, so no one is guessing) gets you a lower grade than someone who gets the wrong answers but writes better.

IMO if you can be given a set of problems and solve all of them for the right answer, you should be able to pass the test. Not so for the WASL.

Posted by: ThreeDimen on November 28, 2006 10:04 AM
63. Gregoire addressed the issue that many of our students who graduate are requiring remedial math once they enter college. Yet she fails to acknowledge that many of those same students have taken 3 - 4 years of high school math and have passed the WASL. Doesn't anyone find it at all disturbing that as the WASL math scores gradually improve, the number of students requiring remediation in math in college has INCREASED?

Obviously the WASL based reformed math is not helping our students. They are not better prepared for college. The system, from the GLE's to the WASL to the WASL-based curriculum is seriously flawed. Delaying the math section of the WASL as a graduation requirement will not improve the situation. Removing the WASl and fixing the ptroblems with our current math standards just might be the best thing for our kids.

Posted by: berta on November 28, 2006 10:10 AM
64. It's absolutely disturbing that as WASL pass rates go up, math remediation goes up, but it's not at all surprising. Our school district was forced to switch to a truly wretched math curriculum -- Everyday Math -- to improve the kids' WASL scores. The teachers know it's garbage, the principals know it's garbage and certainly the administrators know it's garbage, but their decision was driven by the math WASL. Fortunately our school district "supplements" Everyday Math in an effort to teach students "real" math.

Posted by: ThreeDimen on November 28, 2006 10:18 AM
65. Did any of you pro-WASL people catch the math forum that was held in Seattle last month? You can watch it at http://www.tvw.org/MediaPlayer/Archived/WME.cfm?EVNum=2006100059&TYPE=V

Math experts from top universities ridiculed our math standards, math curriculum, and our WASL test. WASL will never prepare students for college. It is a bad test and should be replaced with any of the proven more reliable tests that cost a fraction of the price.

Please, if anyone states that WASL is associated with high standards or that it will prepare kids for college, please oh please show me some proof!

Dr. James Milgran of Stanford University said that WASL standards talk a lot about math, have students gather information, and talk about solving problems BUT THEY NEVER REALY DO ACTUAL MATH!!! As a parent, that has seen all the WASL math prep that comes home, I can tell you that this is true.

My three kids are in elementary school, but I do NOT let them participate in WASL testing. Why waste their times? It is a meaningless test. If parents want real high standards we need to get rid of the WASL. I am not a supporter of Gov. Gregoire, but I am for anything that starts the destruction of the WASL.

Posted by: whole latta rosie on November 28, 2006 10:18 AM
66. Ok, I reviewed some sample high school WASL math problems HERE There is nothing onerous, controversial or abstract about these problems. It's the same type of math word problems that most of us had in high school. While the full explanations in English may take some extra time, I do not see it as harmful. Showing work should be adequate however. That is a pretty easy fix to the test, and it's not worth scrapping the entire thing, or eliminating accountability. High school is no longer the means to prepare students for the job market, it's to prepare them for college. If you cannot solve those problems, you are not ready for the more rigorous math you will take in college.

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 10:25 AM
67. Paulouse, it's the scoring of the tests that introduces the problems. No one will ever be able to explain to me in a way that makes sense why a student who gets every answer of a math test right should still flunk it.

Posted by: ThreeDimen on November 28, 2006 10:27 AM
68. ThreeDimen, it's Washington TEACHERS and testing experts who are responsible for determining the criteria that WASL test questions are scored. As explained earlier, you need to demonstrate that you understand the math concepts, not just regurgitate your prep class instruction. This is why detail is required. If you know how to get the correct answer, then you should have no problem explaining how you got there. Sometimes in school you have to deal with things you don't like - it's tough I know.

Rosie, take a look at the link to the sample questions I posted. If you don't know ACTUAL MATH, you cannot solve those problems. Again, lots of hearsay and anecdotal evidence going around when it comes to the WASL. Those math questions demonstrate application of math concepts, something necessary for college math courses.

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 10:51 AM
69. The problem is not that there is a WASL test, or any test, it's that having such a test switches the focus of student instruction from actual learning to test preparation. In effect, our elementary, middle and high schools are being turned into one large Kaplan program for taking the WASL. The system of having SAT, ACT, etc. is a fine measure of completed high school aptitude and preparation for college that most of us with University Degrees all took. Those tests were administered by a separate organization from our educational system and that's the way it should be.

Knowledge is power, and kids that learn the usefulness of that knowledge in the correct hierarchical order, will see why they benefit from knowing. They will be inspired to learn more, because it will be in their best interest.

Subjecting a kid to an uninspired curriculum devised solely to give some sort of school ranking and collective effectiveness does nothing to create good students. If anything, tests like the WASL create some sort of artificial and inaccurate grading that will justify union pay increases and other alleged metrics to try and convince us all that there is substitute for good old fashioned and inspired learning. And of course, no amount of wishing or WASLing will ever make that so.

If you have a student that you care about, and you can't afford private school, your only hope is to supplement and create an inspired hands-on side curriculum that will keep your child's intellectual curiosity up, and instill motivation. If you child does not have this extra curricular motivation, or their own innate desire to learn, then schooling in the WA public schools is a real risk for their future.

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 28, 2006 11:12 AM
70. ThreeDim and Palouse @ 59 & 60:

Thanks for the sample problems, Palouse. I always appreciate when facts and data are inserted into the discussion. Something is not quite adding up, if you'll forgive the pun. (Or is it simile?) I have not scored the high school math WASL, but I did considerable scoring of the middle school math WASL. I seem to recall about half of the test being fill in the bubble answers, and about half being the open ended, essay style problems. At worst, I disgree with ThreeDim's assertion that all the math questions involve essay answers. At best, I think we don't really have a handle on this question.

However, I agree that the open-ended questions are pretty worthless. The purpose of the math portion of the WASL is to measure mastery of mathematics. And like it or not, the people who are best at mathematics are frequently those people who are worst at formulating written responses that explain their reasoning. The math WASL penalized people who do not write well. In my darker moments, I sometimes believe that was the intention. And I will go one step further to point out that the people who seem to have more aptitude for mathematics and less aptitude for writing tend to have X chromosomes. But there are also autistic children and children with other communications problems who are quite bright in mathematics, and penalized by the essay format of the WASL.

Back to the bubbles, I say!

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 11:12 AM
71. Solving those problems won't get you even close to passing. And while I agree that it shouldn't be any problem to explain how you got the answer, in practice it's not that simple.

My larger point is that before denying high school diplomas to half of Washington students we need to make quite sure that it's the students' understanding of math that is deficient, and not the test itself.

No high school diploma is a shortcut to poverty. We really want to doom young Washingtonians to that kind of life because of an unproven and controversial (to put it mildly) test?

Posted by: Julie B. on November 28, 2006 11:13 AM
72. Sorry -- wrong name. The above comment was mine.

Posted by: ThreeDimen on November 28, 2006 11:18 AM
73. 66. Go to the sample questions. What a joke! Who in the world can teach these concepts to the below average student in High School? Who the hell was in charge of bringing the WASL into law? That person should be sentenced to doing the math section of the WASL for the next five years. As much as I don't care for the Temporary Governor, this test has to go. Palouse in #68 is correct in that these concepts are necessary for "COLLEGE MATH COURSES". I was a high school teacher (Bus. Ed.) from 73-77 and I know for a fact that many of those kids would have a hard time with the concepts required for successful completion of the Math WASL and they would have failed. So today, instead of being reasonably successful adults with a high school diploma and a decent job to support themselves, they would be NON-HS Graduates and would probably be returning to Iraq for another tour (John Kerry).

Make the students take one of the many tests available that measure their math knowledge and use those results to get them up to snuff.

This is another Democrat scheme to control education statewide. If you keep voting for Dems this is the crap you get. They must sit down in Olympia and dream this mess up and then turn it into law. Your $28 million for tutoring was pissed away. Thanks, Christine and you are just now finding out that the WASL is crap???

I would like to see Christine's answers to the sample questions.

Posted by: UW 73 on November 28, 2006 11:20 AM
74. pbj @ 61:

My expectations for kids with mathematical aptitude are much higher than running a cash register at K-Mart. My expectations for kids with no discernable aptitude for anything is that they at least have the arithmetic skills to run a cash register, make change, fill out a tax form, know what time of day it is, read a busd schedule, etc. I am content with the fact that not everyone can be an Einstein, and not everyone should be forced into being less than they are capable. Are you comfortable with that?

Look! The point that seems to be confusing this whole discussion is what the purpose of the WASL actually is. Is it a tool to force schools to prepare all students for college? Is it a hammer to beat up schools that cannot teach students? Is it an assessment of essential learnings? What are essential learnings? You, pbj, seem to be saying that essential learnings must equip a child for designing relational databases, integrating the area under a curve, and God knows what else. I believe that basic arithmetic, a little geometry, and a little applied mathematics (they used to be called mixture problems) are all that is essential. The rest can be picked up in advanced mathematics courses, whose content should not be tested in the WASL, and college courses.

Not everybody can do advanced math, and it makes no sense for kids who cannot do advanced math to flunk out of high school.

Hey, I got an idea? How about if Boeing or Microsoft or Starbucks wants to hire people with college level skills, they ask prospective employees to provide transcripts of their college grades? Don't create a WASL that measure college aptitude, if that indeed, is what the WASL is doing.

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 11:22 AM
75. while I agree that it shouldn't be any problem to explain how you got the answer, in practice it's not that simple.

Nor should it be simple. The idea is not to produce a bunch of math robots, but to demonstrate that students know how to reason and apply concepts that they understand. As explained earlier, if you just arrive at the correct answer in college without detailed explanation of your work, you will fail. This is what this test prepares you to do.

Huck, I must have missed where the open ended questions were in the high school math section. I did not look at every question, but they looked like most or all had a correct answer.

Jeff, review those questions. Those are questions which apply the majority of concepts that you learn in math classes. They are not simple solve this equation questions you get on regular math tests, and that is good. If students have actually learned something in the math classes they have taken, they should not have a problem passing that test.

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 11:31 AM
76. I meant "Y". Biology is not my strong suit.

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 11:31 AM
77. But again, Palouse, this is not a college entrance exam. This is what you have to take to see if you can go to Gene Juarez after high school.

My hairdresser went to GJ. She's talked to me about what school was like for her, and from what she's described there is no way she would have been able to pass the Math portion of the WASL. Thank goodness she didn't need to, because she runs a successful business and makes a good living without the math skills necessary to pass that test. But without a high school diploma, none of that would have been possible for her.

I don't know what math courses you took in college, but never once did I have to write out a detailed explanation of why I solved the equation the way I did. Solving the equation and showing my work *was* the answer.

Posted by: ThreeDimen on November 28, 2006 11:45 AM
78. Huckleberry,

I used the "O Conservative Ones" bit just to jazz it up a little. It has no meaning.

Is the WASL now an optional test? I am a little confused about it because I get the impression that it isn't totally mandatory, at least yet.

Posted by: Libertarian on November 28, 2006 11:49 AM
79. Please help us change the math in the this state. We have started a statewide petition. Please download and gather as many signatures as possible and send to us. We must take action now!

http://www.wheresthemath.com/calltoaction.html

Posted by: Shalimar on November 28, 2006 11:50 AM
80. That's not college math ThreeDimen, it's what you should have learned in high school. The fact that you have to apply what you have learned in high school math classes is what makes it good preparation for college, but that does not mean that application of math concepts cannot serve you elsewhere in your career path. Being able to solve those problems means you have actually learned something, and that is what we want out of our students. If your friend could not have solved the majority of those questions, then she was robbed of her high school education.

Students have ample opportunity to go back and learn the concepts and retake the test before they are denied graduation. If they cannot show the capacity to learn and then solve those problems, then they should not graduate. Period.

We have to challenge our students, not coddle them. Those questions teach students that they actually have to think to get an answer, perish the thought.

And if you can show your work and arrive at the correct answer, then it should be no problem to explain in words what you did. That's just an excuse.

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 12:05 PM
81. Palouse, if you haven't already done so, you should educate yourself on the WASL by finding the nearest high school and volunteering to score practice WASL's. Usually this is done by parents, but I am sure they will accept any civic minded person such as yourself.

What you will find with scoring of the "explain your answer" questions is that the scorers do not read the answer and make sound judgments over whether the explanation makes sense or not. Instead, the scorers are trained to spot certain keywords. If you are scoring a problem that tests, for example, finding the circumference of a circle, you are taught to award one point if you see the word circumference, one point if you see the word radius or diameter, and maybe one or two points if the correct numerical answer is given. You are not trained to distinguish between a student who writes down the formula

C=2*PI*R

and the student who writes down

C=2*PI*D.

Remember, mathematics that is above the level of simple arithmetic is fairly abstract, and is really more about symbol manipulation than it is about English. A test that elevates language proficiency above symbol manipulation is a poor measure of mathematical achievement, in my opinion.

The way that WASL's are scored tends to water down, smooth out, and smoosh together (that is a technical term!) the distinction between math and verbal, and unfairly favors the verbally gifted over those who knows "just" mathematics.

I spent a few months scoring 6th grade Ohio science tests, and I can tell you that scoring of WASL-like exams is a very suspect business.

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 12:13 PM
82. I reviewed the scoring criteria for the actual WASL here, and it seems reasonable to me. While anecdotal evidence that answers that sound good are given more credit than correct answers supports your anti-WASL argument, I see no actual proof of it when it comes to the real test. Validity papers ensure that the scorer is correctly grading tests. They have supervisory reviewers, and ten percent of tests are scored twice. I don't have a link, but I think that a correct answer still gets you the most points in scoring. If that's not true, please provide some evidence of such.

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 12:36 PM
83. As I understand it, a correct score gets you 25% credit for an answer. 75% is given for the explanation.

I have three kids in the public schools, and I see the work they do and what it takes to pass their classes. I do not for one second buy that 50% of high school sophomores are incapable of doing basic math, especially when I see the lousy curriculum that has been introduced in an attempt to raise WASL scores. I think it's the test that's messed up, not the students.

Posted by: ThreeDimen on November 28, 2006 12:55 PM
84. Huckleberry @74,

You complain about people being flunked out of school because they cannot do the problems, yet you are just fine pushing them along without having even rudimentary math skills.

I looked at the sample questions and none of them seems to be oriented toward Einsteins. Einsteins would find them boring if anything.

Some questions are about probability. Perhaps some basic notion of probability would be helpful to keep the minimum wage HS grad you want working at K-Mart from blowing his money on lottery tickets or the casino. And HSP-14 is EXACTLY about counting change!!!!!

I do not see anything in the sample questions that lead me to believe that any child could not pass it if they applied themselves. Unlike you Huckleberry, I am not giving up on the kids. They need to study hard just like they do in other countries. Kids in Indian China and Japan are no more inherently intelligent than our kids. But that is the message you would send them. Johnny, your too dumb to do anything good with your life, go to the K-Mart register.

We wouldn't be outsourcing jobs if we would roll up our sleeves and compete rather than complain. But with people like Huckleberry deciding there are "kids with no discernable aptitude for anything ", it won't be any surprise when these kids become criminals and welfare scum. Way to leave no child behind Huck!

Posted by: pbj on November 28, 2006 12:59 PM
85. Palouse,

If you go on the OSPI website http://www.k12.wa.us/assessment/WASL/testquestions.aspx and download the released WASL questions and the rubrics, you will see in many instances, more credit is given to the explanation than the correct answer. Sometimes the rubric doesn't score the question properly or efficiently either. It is also intersting to note; OSPI pulled down the 2005 math question releases after we embarrassed them publicly showing 5 of 8 (10th grade) questions were mathematically incorrect. You can watch the video of the lecture we sponsored at the UW on www.wheresthemath.com click on the TVW link on the front page.

Posted by: Shalimar on November 28, 2006 01:08 PM
86. I looked at the annotated answers in this document:

http://www.k12.wa.us/assessment/WASL/testquestion/2004/RIDMathGr10.doc

And the way those math problems were scored was absolutely appropriate. Students cannot just pick one of the options (e.g. Which was more expensive? Flying). Although flying was indeed the correct answer, if they cannot show how they arrived at that answer in proper mathematical terms, it means nothing.

Noted in this document are the types of assessments:

There are four types of assessment items:
• multiple-choice questions where students earn one point by selecting the right answer from three options
• extended multiple-choice items where students can earn up to two points by first selecting the right answer from options and then explaining something about their choice
• short-answer items where students earn up to two points by writing an answer, explaining their thinking, drawing a picture or diagram, or showing steps used to solve a problem
• extended-response items where students can earn up to four points by constructing a response that asks for more details (graphs, tables, written summaries) or more thinking.

These criteria sound absolutely appropriate, and the scoring grades in that document are inconsistent with the anecdotal evidence of scoring previously posted here. Get the correct answer, explain and justify your answer and you score appropriately - bottom line.

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 01:24 PM
87. Shalimar,

How would changing anything about the WASL test alter the fact that they didn't teach your child how to do long division? My jaw dropped when you told of how the teacher said division wasn't taught to encourage "creativity". I hope you pulled your kid out of public schools.

Posted by: pbj on November 28, 2006 01:30 PM
88. The WASL test reflects the "new new" math that downplays "rote" memorization and learning of computational skills like long division. Our district switched to a curriculum like that to improve WASL scores, but thankfully they supplement it with actual math.

Posted by: ThreeDimen on November 28, 2006 01:48 PM
89. So why are we paying one elected official (Queen Christine) to do the work properly belonging to another elected official (Supt. of Pub. Instruction)? The queen does not have the responsibility for this but sees an opportunity to gain votes by pandering to the parents of WASL taking students. What a busy body!

Posted by: Bwana on November 28, 2006 01:52 PM
90. Sorry ThreeDimen, but those sample questions are not "new math", it's real math. It tests real skills, and I'm sure if I had your high school math textbooks I could page to a specific chapter where the math concept for each of those problems is addressed. Those questions just don't spoon feed the student the equation to solve, it requires they actually THINK to arrive at what the equation is.

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 02:01 PM
91. Palouse:

The "sample WASL" questions you provided (http://www.pasd.wednet.edu/school/mathWASL/hse.htm ) are not official WASL questions. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page you will see that they were submitted by parents not written by the test company. The last time official WASL questions were posted at OSPI there were 7 errors out of 42 questions! (King 5 News 11/01/05).

My argument is NOT that the skill level is too high it is that something is wrong with the test and/or the scoring. If the instrument that we are using to measure students (the WASL) is inaccurate then we should not be using it.

On the front page of today's Seattle Times is the story about eliminating the math WASL. In it is a quote from Bellevue's superintendent, Mike Riley:

He [Mike Riley] said the math WASL itself needs to be examined and cited Bellevue's experience, where high-school students score well on the SAT math test but do poorly on the state assessment [WASL].

My niece is one of these students that did not pass the math WASL, but scored great on her math SAT. She is planning to go to the UW and major in biology (she is in class of 2007).

Pearson (the scoring company) tells parents and schools about the accurate scoring measures that they have in place and the quality control checks that they are under contract to perform. However, recently two test scorers for Pearson (John Koudela and Anna Rhodes) came forward to say that what is being promised is not happening. They testified on a recent episode of "KCTS Connects" about all the faults of the scoring system. If you look at Pearson's record, they have a history of promising one thing and delivering another.

The reason our state got rid of the ITBS test and will not let us substitute a different test like the SAT for the high school WASL is because these test scores paint a different picture than WASL scores!

Posted by: whole lotta rosie on November 28, 2006 02:23 PM
92. Based on the test questions in the document link I posted, which were actual questions, the sample questions are indicative of what's on the WASL. Take a look at that link, the scoring criteria and the sampling of annotated grading. It's fair and tests real math skills.

If there were errors in the questions, then they should be corrected. I have not seen the specific errors in question, but I will take your word for it that they existed. However, I doubt whatever errors were there severly affected whether the math skills were adequately tested with the question. At worst, it probably meant there could have been more than one answer based on interpretation. Big deal.

As for SAT math, it's not supposed to be a comprehensive test of math skills. If we want to ensure that this "R" is learned thoroughly, SAT math is not enough. I also remember taking the IOWA test, and it was ridiculously easy. If the expectations of our students are going to be that low, we have surely failed. The question we should be asking is not what is wrong with this test, it's why students cannot adequately answer these questions.

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 02:41 PM
93. I'd like to mention the fact that the person paid to author the error filled sample WASL questions which OSPI posted to their website last year is the same person who OSPI hired to conduct a "validity" study on the WASL. Interesting that this so-called assessment expert who claims the WASL is "valid" wrote a sample test that contained 16% error.

Combine the errors in the test itself with Pearson's record of making mistakes in the scoring of tests and you end up with kids in AP and Honors classes failing the WASL...and kids who are functioning below grade level passing the WASL.

Not exactly the makings of a valid or accurate measure of student achievement.

Posted by: Berta on November 28, 2006 02:47 PM
94. Some misinformation here. First, the WASL test questions that contained errors and were posted from OSPI were RE-CREATED incorrectly, they were not the original questions. This does not prove that the original WASL test contained these same errors.

"The practice high school WASL tests will be reposted next week. Several of the practice items were re-created incorrectly and we are working to correct those errors."

They have some fairly rigorous processes in place for vetting those questions, and they are reviewed by teachers. The scoring process is also well-defined.

Finally, there is a way to appeal if you believe errors occurred:

Can a parent/guardian appeal a student's score after looking at the test booklet?
Parents/guardians may only appeal a score on a high school assessment that is required for graduation: WASL, WAAS-DAW, WAAS-Portfolio or Collection of Evidence. A score appeal results in OSPI review of particular scoring errors, such as errors on open-ended items, incorrect score calculations, mistakes affecting erasures, test labeling, and lightly marked bubbles on multiple choice items. Read the state guidelines.An appeal form will be provided when the parent/guardian reviews the test.

It's not the questions people, it's the skills that are lacking.

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 03:07 PM
95. Palouse @ 82:

I reviewed the scoring criteria for the actual WASL here, and it seems reasonable to me. While anecdotal evidence that answers that sound good are given more credit than correct answers supports your anti-WASL argument, I see no actual proof of it when it comes to the real test. Validity papers ensure that the scorer is correctly grading tests. They have supervisory reviewers, and ten percent of tests are scored twice. I don't have a link, but I think that a correct answer still gets you the most points in scoring. If that's not true, please provide some evidence of such.

Palouse, I understand what you are saying. And I agree that on the surface it sounds reassuring. But I have been a profession scorer, and it falls apart. The company brings in about a hundred scorers, and measures which can "correctly" score some sample problems. About half are let go, and the rest start scoring problems. If the problem is well constructed, all fifty will score that problem. If the problem is poorly constructed, and the scorers have trouble scoring with consistency, then "unstable" scorers are reassigned to the stable problems. At one point, the scoring of two of the 8 problems we scored had to be scored by four scorers. For whatever reason, voodoo I suspect, these four scorers saw answers the same way with enough consistency that the company was able to demonstrate repeatability. Now 46 out of 50 of us intelligent scorers could not achieve that level of repeatability. And none of this had anything to do with scoring those two problems "correctly". In fact, we almost had a revolt because the majority of us understood that the "correct" answer was bogus.

Now admittedly, these were very open-ended essay answer problems, with a lot of politically correct mumbo jumbo about not using pesticides and the benefits of bringing satellite communications to poor countries (science?), but that is the reality of the "explain your work" type questions. Mathematics should be less vulnerable to the KumBahYah type answers, but believe me, they occur.

We disagree, but respectfully.

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 03:32 PM
96. pbj @ 84:

I am not sending a message to anyone that they should aspire to be no more successful economoically than to be a K-Mart cashier. That is just a metaphor for a respectable job that an otherwise unskilled worker can aspire. So is sweeping a factory floor, cleaning an office toilet, and working for the WEA. (Sorry about that last one, you got my dander up.)

All I am saying is not everyone is going to emerge from the "high school years" with the same level of academic accomplishment. The whole point of the WASL (which Charlie Mas disputes, but has not rejoined as far as I know) is that a benchmark of essential learnings will be defined, and students will be expected to master those essential learnings in order to receive a state-certified high school diploma, and schools who cannot consistently produce students who can pass that WASL will be investigated and improved if necessary. In my opinion, pbj, you are placing more emphasis on the definition of essential learnings than this thread warrants. Or then again, maybe that is the topic. What are the important essential learnings? Would you like to get together sometime to review the Essential Learnings as defined by Washington State? That might be an interesting way to spend a few afternoons on a cold winter day.

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 03:41 PM
97. Some parents who have viewed their child's WASL in the past have found errors not only in the scoring of the test, but also in the test itself. There is a specific form for teachers/administrators to fill out to report errors and ambiguities on the test.

Posted by: berta on November 28, 2006 03:44 PM
98. pbj @ 84 Part Deux:

Your closing snide remark was "Way to leave no child behind Huck!" Unlike yourself, I am a realist and I recognize that there are some children who are lousy students and simply will not learn very much. You can spend and spend until you cannot spend anymore, and those kids still will not have learned nearly as much as those kids for whom you have spent perhaps only 1/20th on. Do you deny this? Are you committed to spending without limit no matter what the outcome will be?

You can criticize me. You can call me the devil. But all I can say to you in return is you sound foolish. Perhaps I am misunderstanding what point you are trying to make? I say to you, there are stupid kids, and you say that I am an asshole for stating what is obvious. Because you and I cannot agree that there are stupid kids, we do not have any chance of deciding what to do with stupid kids. Wouldn't you agree?

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 03:46 PM
99. Whole Lotta Rosie @ 91 said "The reason our state got rid of the ITBS test and will not let us substitute a different test like the SAT for the high school WASL is because these test scores paint a different picture than WASL scores!"

Rosie, would you be bold enough to tell us what you think the real picture is, and what picture you think OSPI is trying to paint with WASL? Thanks.


Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 03:52 PM
100. Palouse @ 92 said "If the expectations of our students are going to be that low, we have surely failed. The question we should be asking is not what is wrong with this test, it's why students cannot adequately answer these questions."

You have to understand that not everyone is as verbally adroit as you and I. Like it or not, some people are very good at mathematics, but they simply cannot express what they intuit in words very well. They are quite good at READING THE PROBLEM, and translating into equations and solving the problem, but they simply cannot explain how they did it. Do you believe that those people exist or do you not? If they exist, and you are giving them a battery of tests that include verbal (where they will do poorly), do you want to give them a double dose of verbal failure by forcing them to take a math test with a strong verbal component?

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 03:57 PM
101. God Bless you Berta @ 93. You have provided a technical definition of SMOOSHING for me. Thank you.

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 03:59 PM
102. I agree that there are some kids who do not/ will not learn as much as others (however, I stop short of calling them "stupid"). But the WASL is not an accurate measure of who isn't learning and who is. I have personally known a student who reads well above grade level. He loves to read a variety of genres and will discuss works of literature in depth. He failed the reading section of the 10th grade WASL. According to the state he does not know how to interpret and analyze literary texts. His high school English teacher disagrees profusely!

Another student who reads several years below grade level passed the reading section of his WASL.

Which student needs remedial reading classes? According to OSPI the latter student need no intervention, and the former needs special WASL prep classes.

This situation is hardly limited to these 2 students. I have heard countless parents share similar stories.

Posted by: berta on November 28, 2006 04:00 PM
103. I would love to see evidence of that math question Huck. Because I don't see any of those in the released questions, answers and scoring evaluation done here. The way the detailed answers were scored seemed very reasonable, along with the questions themselves.

Does anyone here who trashes this test have evidence of one of these subjective questions with no real answer that uses these "new math" concepts? Just wondering.

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 04:02 PM
104. Yes, that was OSPI's explanation for the errors. You can believe it if you want. OSPI never did repost the corrected questions. Dr. Catherine Taylor created the questions as she is the creator of the WASL.

Every parent I know that has viewed WASL has found errors and/or they say the test instructions were confusing. Federal law states that parents have the right to challenge and remove any test scores that are not accurate. OSPI is in violation of federal law as they will only allow the tenth grade WASL to be challenged in 2008.

I am sure I will not change your mind about WASL. If you feel it is a good test and believe everything OSPI tells you about WASL ans scoring, then by all means have your children take it.

I agree that most kids should be able to pass WASL. Whatever errors are in the questions or in the scoring shoukd not effect that many students, but still it is not a risk I would take. I don't like the expense of the WASL or the fact that it will not prepare kids for college, and there is no incentive (or money left) for schools to teach beyond the WASL.

The schools are obsessed with WASL and it is getting in the way of education. If WASL is still around when my kids reach high school, I will flock to private or home school. I want my kids prepping for the SAT, and for college; not spending all their class time on WASL prep.

Posted by: whole lotta rosie on November 28, 2006 04:06 PM
105. They are quite good at READING THE PROBLEM, and translating into equations and solving the problem, but they simply cannot explain how they did it. Do you believe that those people exist or do you not?

Yes, I believe they exist. But I ALSO believe that they can still pass the math portion of the WASL. Take a look at question 10 on the link I posted previously. If that person just shows her work for how she arrived at the answer, she will get full credit. Alternatively, she could have explained how she got that answer in words, and probably got the same credit, but did not have to as long as it was justified.

I just do not believe that good math students are failing the math portion of the WASL because they are poor writers.

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 04:12 PM
106. I think Palouse has revealed himself/herself as an employee of either OSPI or some other education entity here in WA State.

The WASL is designed to test the "constructivist" reformed math; a languaged based math. It is my opinion you will never acheive a high degree of passage on this WASL due to the fact many students simply cannot think in language terms as needed to pass the math WASL. We know for certain there are genius-level math students who have failed the math portion because they cannot verbalize their answers. Should these students be penalized? Do they not really understand math because they can't verbalize it?

The state has been prancing around Ruth Parker to convince unsuspecting parents and teachers this reformed math is magical. The math will instill a profound sense of mathematical understanding. OK-let's examine some of the things she tells us:

Teaching algorithms and pen-and-paper computation will harm the child.

Algorithms unteach place value.

Anything beyond two digts; a $3.00 caluclator should be used.

All standard algorithms should be abolished.
--------------------------------------------
So when we're forcing students to discovery their own algorithm's and then give them these wordy tests, they have two disadvatages; they can't compute, and if they're non-verbal, they can't explain it.

So you tell me; how many kids are going to give up and drop out after flunking the WASL 2 times? Do you really think they're going to stick it out and take this test 3 more times? Apparently on the retakes over the summer, less that 25% passed.

Posted by: Shalimar on November 28, 2006 04:16 PM
107. When a child fails a section of the WASL it does not mean that they will recieve assistance in that area. My youngest failed both the writing and math sections of the WASL of his 7th grade WASL. In 10th grade the school decided that as he was close to passing in the math section, they would offer him help (which by that time he no longer needed). They refused to offer any assistance in the area of written language, and area where he truly struggles and needs (deserves) assistance from the school. The reason was that he was denied help in writing is twofold. First of all, he wasn't close enough to passing in the 7th grade for them to bother to take the time to help him. Secondly, OSPI ordered the schools to focus their attention on the MATH section, leaving kids like my child far behind.


http://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/k_v87/k0606boo.htm

Posted by: berta on November 28, 2006 04:24 PM
108. Shalimar, I don't work for OSPI, nor am I a fan of union monopolies, but I do think there should be standards. I have repeatedly posted examples of WASL math questions and their criteria and scoring, which totally contradict your assertions of "new math", subjective answers, and other rhetoric posted here. The math questions are REAL MATH, and if your kids have learned something in class they should be able to APPLY what they have learned and answer them and also justify how they got their answer. If they cannot answer these questions, then maybe they need a tutor. I would suggesting starting with the one in the mirror.

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 04:33 PM
109. Sorry, that's "suggest".

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 04:35 PM
110. Palouse:

Question 2 is a Kum Bah Ya type question. Fortunately, it has a simple bubble response, or the scorers would have needed to wade through pages of rote-memorized Save The Earth speeches. From the girls. The boys would grunt an answer or leave it blank.

Question 9: Does Earl get to eat or stay in a hotel room? Remember Palouse, you want these kids to think, and believe me, they will! Can Earl upgrade his flight to First Class? A 10th grader might think that is a good idea. How will the scorers deal with these creative intellectual/verbal variations that have absolutely nothing to do with mathematics? The scoring rubric generally works great for about half the solutions. For about 1/4, the scorer must really scratch his head to see if he can "fit the solution" to the rubric. Ouch! And the remaining 1/4, thank God, are completely blank.

Those are the only two problems with what I consider problems. However, if you can agree that Question 9 is unstable, then that means 20% of the open ended questions are problematic. Question 13, though a stable question, would be very difficult to score. In general, the difficulty of scoring rises exponentially with the number of points awarded. A 4-point problem is many more than 4 times as difficult to score as a 1-point problem.

I don't know what your exercize accomplished. The questions you showed were fairly straightforward and complication free, though not perfect. I would not be surprised if another set of questions contained questions whose scoring is more problematic.

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 04:55 PM
111. "Whole Lotta Rosie @ 91 said "The reason our state got rid of the ITBS test and will not let us substitute a different test like the SAT for the high school WASL is because these test scores paint a different picture than WASL scores!"

Rosie, would you be bold enough to tell us what you think the real picture is, and what picture you think OSPI is trying to paint with WASL? Thanks."

Sure Huck. I am sorry if I implied that WASL is painting a rosy picture. It is not. We should be embarrassed by WASL scores.

What I am getting at is that ITBS used to be given in grades 3,5 and 7 (I think that's the grades). Then we started giving the WASL in grades 4,6 and 10.

OSPI has always patted themselves on the back because, historically, WASL scores have been "improving" the past ten years.

The problem is that ITBS test scores were not improving. It is my opinion that OSPI did not want the public to question this, so they got rid of the ITBS. I suspect that SAT scores have not improved either. I know that college readiness has DECREASED as WASL scores have INCREASED, but OSPI is hoping that no one notices.

It's pretty hard to convince the public that education is improving as WASL scores go up, if you have other test scores staying flat.

Posted by: whole lotta rosie on November 28, 2006 04:57 PM
112. Despite the content of the button, Question 2 is a MATH question. The content of the button has no relevance to the answer, or the scoring.

As for question 9, like the problems that most of us had in high school, you compute the answer with the information you have. You do not make ridiculous assumptions about other things the person described in the problem MIGHT have done. There is enough information to answer that question with a specific answer to the cost of each option.

These questions, or their scoring, are not "problematic" nor are they open ended. They have concise information and correct answers.

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 05:04 PM
113. Right; the ITBS had to go. It was shining a spotlight on the flaws of the WASL and causing legislators and others to question OSPI. Consider this: ten years ago when we first started the WASL, only 20% of students statewide could pass the math portion. Do you all believe 80% of our states population were that stupid? Since then, students have gained 50% passage of the math WASL; a considerable gain! But on the other hand, the ITBS and the SAT have stayed stagnet the entire same number of years. Shouldn't the ITBS and the SAT have risen respectively? Of course! But they didn't.

The WASL is not testing students academic capabilities it is testiing their thinking skills, much like an I-Q test I would guess.

Posted by: Shalimar on November 28, 2006 05:23 PM
114. Palouse @ 105:

You and I know that area rises with the square of a linear dimension such as perimeter. You can I know that if you quadruple the area, you have only doubled the perimeter. Therefore, you and I would be justified in having a mental algorithm of P-sub-new = 2 * P-sub-old.

In essence, our answer to problem 10 would be completely contained in the response:

A = 2 * 80 = 160 square feet

How do you suppose this would be scored by the official rubric?

(That raises the number of problematic questions to three.)

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 05:30 PM
115. Palouse @ 112: I appreciate the opinion you hold on the matter, but we disagree.

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 05:33 PM
116. I suppose that if you explained it as you just did in the paragraph prior to your equation, you would get full credit. Reading their criteria for scoring, if a method of arriving at a solution falls outside of the given guidelines, it is reviewed and added as a solution if correct, not simply ignored as an unacceptable method.

Posted by: Palouse on November 28, 2006 05:41 PM
117. Palouse... I think you win. I am tired of going back and forth without closing the gap between our understanding of the quality and usefulness of the WASL.

My last word (I hope), is to once again refute your post at #115. For a mathematician, to have to write a sentence explaining why area quadruples when dimension doubles is equivalent to asking a grammarian to explain why cat isn't spelled K-A-T. It just is! That's the answer!

Many mathematicians do not do words all that well, and WASL deducts points. While this is good news for the verbally adroit, it is grossly unfair to students with inwardly directed mathematical minds.

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 06:06 PM
118. Huckleberry-The reformist are so enamored with the romanticism of all this discovery of mathematics and expressing oneself using language. They base their existence on their feelings, and all this feels and sounds so good to them. This is precisly why real mathematicians have such a problem with the reformed math and the WASL. It demands you remove your feelings from the equation. There is nothing precise about the scoring of the WASL as our friend Palouse states.

The WASL and reformed math are built on a house of sand and it is eroding away. Parents have finally started to wise up and ask questions.

I still think Palouse is part of the system.

Posted by: shalimar on November 28, 2006 07:45 PM
119. Shalimar... if Palouse says that she is not a part of the educational establishment, I am willing to take her at her word, and so should you. As long as everyone speaks to facts, and analysis of those facts, it shouldn't matter much anyway. I think Palouse has held up her end of the bargain in that regard, although her feelings do seem to bleed a little over her arguments. (But then, mine probably do as well.)

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 08:40 PM
120. Huckleberry @96,

We can never compete in the unskilled labor market -NEVER. The rest of the world has way more starving poor people for us to be able to compete in this area. We must compete with innovation and superior skills. I am sorry that is comes as a shock to you, but that is the demographic reality of the world in which we live. If you want to send kids out into the world to get started in unskilled labor only to have that job outsourced and be jobless at 40 years of age an unemployable, then by all means please say so.

At any rate, the sample questions are not rocket science and in fact quite relevant to even the K-Mart cashier. Ironically your choice of a bankrupt K-Mart is apropos for the category of unskilled laborer. It is a dead end career choice, like choosing to be mediocre.

Posted by: pbj on November 28, 2006 11:13 PM
121. pbj... if you believe that all Americans can be made into rocket scientists then you are living in a utopian dream world. The OPPORTUNITY to become a rocket scientists should exist for everyone, no matter what circumstances they were born into. But it is foolish to attempt to impose that result on everyone. I know some people are emotionally ill-equipped to face that reality, so I understand why you despise me so. Good morning.

Posted by: huckleberry on November 29, 2006 06:34 AM
122. """"Their teachers hated the WASL."
Swell.

So, what do the teachers hating the WASL propose as a replacement?

This entire issue centers on teacher accountability.""""

I am a teacher who hates the WASL. What do I propose?
I propose a test of basic skills, that is not subjectively graded. I propose that the definition of basic skills be updated to at least 20th century standards!
Having administered and seen the actual WASL and the curriculums designed to teach to it, I can assure you that the test does not measure WHAT A CHILD KNOWS, but rather HOW A CHILD THINKS (this is why the Math WASL is essay style, and many students recieve more credit for incorrect than correct answers). Concept is more important than content.

I propose that WA State get real, and stop dealing with conceptual, wholistic education and start teaching facts and information. Conceptual, or "Possibilities Thinking" is appropriate for college students (and college-bound students). However, this is NOT the majority of WA state Students.

Bergeson's Number two has publicly stated that "We no longer see Education as the teaching of facts and information." She goes on to explain that Educations primary goal is "social transformation." (Shirley McCune said it...if you don't know who she is, just GOOGLE her, you'll be infuriated that she has any say over what and how your children are taught).

And the WASL is precisely designed to measure childrens' readiness to be socially transformed. This is NOT your normal test. Those who argue for it can not have seen it, or seen the curriculums designed to teach to it -- or been in a classroom where the WASL reigns supreme to the COMPLETE exclusion of ANYTHING that does not pertain to it.

The WASL is nothing more than a social engineering tool -- an experiment on our children.

It is NOT a test of basic skills and it does NOT test the skills necessary for a student to be productive in society.

If you do not believe me, look at a real test (not the sample items on the OSPI website. There's are specially picked to fool you. And on their practice tests there were no fewer than 7 incorrect/unasnwerable questions.

Get a real test. Get real curriculums to teach real skills.

And, OSPI, quit working so hard to fool the public about your intentions. You are wasting our tax dollars and sabotaging our students and teachers and schools on your riddiculous experimentation.

Posted by: RTA 37388 on November 29, 2006 08:44 AM
123. """"Their teachers hated the WASL."
Swell.

So, what do the teachers hating the WASL propose as a replacement?

This entire issue centers on teacher accountability.""""

I am a teacher who hates the WASL. What do I propose?
I propose a test of basic skills, that is not subjectively graded. I propose that the definition of basic skills be updated to at least 20th century standards!
Having administered and seen the actual WASL and the curriculums designed to teach to it, I can assure you that the test does not measure WHAT A CHILD KNOWS, but rather HOW A CHILD THINKS (this is why the Math WASL is essay style, and many students recieve more credit for incorrect than correct answers). Concept is more important than content.

I propose that WA State get real, and stop dealing with conceptual, wholistic education and start teaching facts and information. Conceptual, or "Possibilities Thinking" is appropriate for college students (and college-bound students). However, this is NOT the majority of WA state Students.

Bergeson's Number two has publicly stated that "We no longer see Education as the teaching of facts and information." She goes on to explain that Educations primary goal is "social transformation." (Shirley McCune said it...if you don't know who she is, just GOOGLE her, you'll be infuriated that she has any say over what and how your children are taught).

And the WASL is precisely designed to measure childrens' readiness to be socially transformed. This is NOT your normal test. Those who argue for it can not have seen it, or seen the curriculums designed to teach to it -- or been in a classroom where the WASL reigns supreme to the COMPLETE exclusion of ANYTHING that does not pertain to it.

The WASL is nothing more than a social engineering tool -- an experiment on our children.

It is NOT a test of basic skills and it does NOT test the skills necessary for a student to be productive in society.

If you do not believe me, look at a real test (not the sample items on the OSPI website. There's are specially picked to fool you. And on their practice tests there were no fewer than 7 incorrect/unasnwerable questions.

Get a real test. Get real curriculums to teach real skills.

And, OSPI, quit working so hard to fool the public about your intentions. You are wasting our tax dollars and sabotaging our students and teachers and schools on your riddiculous experimentation.

Posted by: RTA 37388 on November 29, 2006 08:45 AM
124. Huck, while you speak in euphemisms of "feelings" regarding math, the actual WASL math problems completely contradict your assertions. ALL of the math problems have a right and wrong answer, and if you show how you got that answer you will get credit for it. Showing your work is not some new world concept, it's part of math. Showing or explaining math concepts ensures that students understand the material, rather than just choosing an option which really shows nothing, other than they can pick that flying costs more than driving.

Unfortunately, you and berta choose to attack the messenger rather than the message - Washington kids are deficient in math. The WASL is not the problem, it's what has exposed the problem. The math standards before the WASL were ridiculously low. This test is showing what people like Bill Gates already know - our schools are turning out students who cannot compete in math with those of other countries. And instead of addressing the problem, the test is attacked, thereby ensuring we have a culture of low expectations and ultimately, failure.

Posted by: Palouse on November 29, 2006 08:59 AM
125. I agree that the WASL is not a test of basic skills. If it was, I would be all for it. I Also, I would support WASL more if there was some sort of proof or independent study that indicated that WASL is improving education or that it is accurate and reliable. Other tests have gone thru this scutiny, why not WASL?

I agree with the other poster that the sample questions you all are refering to in your discussion, are not real WASL questions. You can go on the internet and find all kinds of sites that claim to have sample WASL questions, but if they are not written by the same testing company, they are not worth discussing.

Posted by: holy cow on November 29, 2006 09:55 AM
126. holy cow, first the WASL is not designed to be a measure of basic skills. Washington schools use other basic skills assessments for that (e.g. Iowa tests).

Second, the WASL has been independently validated. You can find all of the details in this document.

This committee concludes that the WASL meets the relevant standards of validity as prescribed by the national Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (AERA, APA, and NCME 1999).

If you want actual released test items, you can find them here You will find that the sample test questions previously linked are very similar to the released items for the test.

There's alot of misinformation going around regarding this test, and I have a feeling it's from frustrated parents whose "brilliant" little child has not passed it.

Posted by: Palouse on November 29, 2006 10:11 AM
127. Thanks for that report, Palouse. I did not know that it existed. I did however start to google some of the names that make up the committee that issued that report and noticed that some of them work for OSPI, funny this is not mentioed in their biography that they provided for that report.

I wonder if it is like Dr. Catherine Taylor who sometime writes editorials for newspapers about how reliable WASL is? Her WASL "validity roport" is also shown to teachers to prove what a great test it is. She only identifies herself as a test expert and professor at UW. Never is it mentioned that she keeps an office inside OSPI and was the main developer of the WASL. Her report is not what I would consider from an independent source.

I really don't know anything about the report you provided for me, it is just funny that the first name I googled (Joseph Willhoft) happens to be No.2 position at OSPI.

Posted by: holy cow on November 29, 2006 10:57 AM
128. Holycow, I must have missed where Catherine Taylor was on the National Technical Advisory Committee which validated this test. This is not "her report". The TAC members are listed near the end of that document and reading their qualifications seem very qualified. The only one who may have worked for OSPI is Joseph Willhoft, and his qualifications for validation of this test are certainly better than the people posting here. The rest are professors with PhD's and years of experience with tests like these and in education, but hey, what do they know? I'm sure the likes of berta and huckleberry know better.

Posted by: Palouse on November 29, 2006 11:18 AM
129. Polouse, the more I google about this "Technical Advisory Committee" the more suspicious I get. It appears that most of the members either work for OSPI or the testing company. I also cannnot find any other test that this "committee" has commented on.

If I had to guess, I would say that this "Technical Advisory Committee" is made up of people that have had a hand in developing the WASL,or were hand picked by OSPI to make this report. OSPI has just given them fancy name to make it appear to be an independent report.

It is not the first time we have been fooled or lied to by OSPI.

Posted by: holy cow on November 29, 2006 01:01 PM
130. holycow, now you are just making things up. If you have evidence that "It appears that most of the members either work for OSPI or the testing company", please post it. Working as a consultant to a testing company is far different than working for them. Many of the members worked on technical committees in other states as well.

But perhaps it's all a conspiracy as you say. All of these people are putting their professional qualifications and careers on the line to find that a particular test is valid for their buddy Terry Bergeson when in fact it is not. Okay. There is no reason to believe that these people have a conflict of interest in calling this test valid when it isn't.

Unfortunately, many people just refuse to face the facts. There is a math deficiency, and this test elicits that fact. No amount of WASL Derangement Syndrome arguments will change that.

Posted by: Palouse on November 29, 2006 01:20 PM
131. I stand by my statement. I am suspicious. All members of the National Technical Advisory Committee seem to have a tie to the testing industry, and I would not be surprised if they had a role in developing the WASL. Joseph Willhoft has worked for OSPI for many years, yet they seem to skip over that fact when listing his biography attached to this report.

Here is why I dont trust OSPI. A few years ago I wanted to see if there had ever been any INDEPENDENT studies done on the WASL. I emailed this request to OSPI, and a few days later a WASL Validity Report by Dr. Catherine Taylor arrived in my mailbox. On the title page that listed Dr Taylors credentials and work history, it NEVER MENTIONED that she works at OSPI and is the main creator of the WASL.

How I found out, is when I called OSPI because I had some questions about the report. The secretary at OSPI assumed that I wanted to speak to Dr. Taylor, and mentioned that Dr. Taylor no longer had an office at OSPI (that indicates that she once did). I did a little research and found out that her office was located at OSPI while she was developing the WASL and creating her validity report. Her report is how reliable her own work is!

If you google Dr. Catherine Taylor, I dont believe you will come up with anything that connects her to OSPI or WASL. I dont know if it is intentional or not to keep her relationship hidden. But anyone who knows about WASL knows that it is her test.

and in case you are wondering, I do not have any kids in public school. We left long ago. In part do to WASL and the terrible curriculum that comes with it.

Posted by: holy cow on November 29, 2006 04:05 PM
132. Did some one awhile back ask for a sample math question?

This question just came through my son's fourth grade class email from a parent having trouble with it. It is from the WASL paractice that was sent home this week:

Sharon, Sally, Shelia and Sara all decided to take up ice skating. Shelia went as many times as Sally and Sharon went four more times than Sara, but three less times than Shelia. Sara went five times altogether. How many times did Sally go?


The available answers are;
A. 20 times
B. 6 times
C. 3 times
D. 9 times


Posted by: whole lotta rosie on November 29, 2006 07:14 PM
133. Hahaha!! Rosie, I was just about to post the same thing! LOL! Great minds think alike!

Posted by: Berta on November 29, 2006 08:10 PM
134. Did anybody else get 23?

Posted by: huckleberry on November 29, 2006 08:56 PM
135. I came up with 20, but then my husband pointed out my errors. This question is really creating a buzz on my email from class parents. Most seem to be comming up with 12.

Here is some emails I am recieving (I will cut and paste):

The answer is 6 times. Sara is the base, she went 5 times. Sharon went 4 times more than Sara (=9) and 3 less than Sheila. (9-3=6) Sally and Shelia went the same amount of times. So 6.

Another parent writes:

If Sharon went skating 9 times, yet went 3 times LESS than Sheila, then Sheila went 3 times more than Sharon.

Sharon = Sheila - 3 9 = 12 - 3

Sheila and Sally both went 12 times.


Posted by: whole lotta rosie on November 30, 2006 01:27 PM
136. There should be more of a space between the 3 and the 9.

It should read:

Sharon = Sheila - 3

9 = 12 - 3

Posted by: whole lotta rosie on November 30, 2006 03:52 PM
137. 1) Sheila = Sally
2) Sharon = 4 * Sara
3) Sharon + 3 = Sheila
4) Sara = 5

Plug 4) into 2), yielding:

2') Sharon = 20

Plug 2') into 3), yielding

3') Sheila = 23

Plud 3') into 1), yielding

1') Sally = 23

Sally went 23 times. Or did I make an error?

Posted by: huckleberry on November 30, 2006 09:39 PM
138. Oops! I see my error in equation 2). It should have been

2) Sharon = Sara + 4

I agree, the correct answer is 12.

Presumably, I would have lost a point for wrong answer, but gotten 1, 2, or 3 points for showing understanding of the problem, and reasonable logic. I hate English!

Posted by: huckleberry on November 30, 2006 09:43 PM
139. I don't know if anyone is still reading this thread, but I would like to add that I am a parent of three. My oldest child does well in math (I send him to Sylvan for math, because his school spends all day working on WASL type story problems like the one listed above.) At sylvan they give him the CAT test, and they tell me he is working at the seventh grade level (he is in 5th grade). He is average when it comes to English skills and is often accused of not puting forth his best effort when it comes to written assignments. My other two kids are average.

I have no idea how my kids would score on WASL, and frankly, I don't care. All I can tell you is that WASL is a huge problem.

The concept of teacher accountability sounds good. But the public is being sold a lie. WASL is NOT improving education. It is the reason many people are leaving the public schools. The testing companies simply have too much control in our classrooms. Many people are unaware that the testing companies sell us our curriculum. The curriculum is geared around the WASL test. For many years the Fordham institute rated WA state's curriculum as worst in the nation!

It is no surprise that as WASL scores go up, our student's need for remedial classes in college has also gone up. If any pro-WASL person took a look at the curriculum, they wouild understand why. WASL is not synonomous with high standards.

My son's school has the highest WASL scores in the district. Yet they have no spelling curriculum. That's right, they don't teach spelling anymore. They also don't have computer lab. All they do is brag about their high WASL scores.

I know math skills are lagging in this state, I think it is in part due to the WASL curriculum.

Posted by: whole lotta rosie on December 1, 2006 11:06 AM
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