January 16, 2007
"More WASL delays coming?"

The Everett Herald reports some in the Legislature are considering the idea of delaying the implementation of the reading and writing portions of the 10th grade WASL test as a graduation requirement. This in addition to the proposed postponement of using the math section as a graduation requirement from 2008 to 2011, as called for by Governor Gregoire and State Superintendent Bergeson.

All this despite the fact, as the Herald reports, students are doing reasonably well on the non-math portions of the test: "87 percent have passed reading and 86 percent have passed writing."

Note the article cites two of the Snohomish County superintendents whose unified efforts to delay the math requirement helped spur state action on that issue. Yet, neither school leaders wants to see retreat in reading and writing, for good reason.

Meanwhile, other supporters of accountability seem ready to fight the idea:

Marc Frazer, vice president of the Washington Roundtable, which represents some of the state's largest businesses, said his organization would strongly oppose a delay of reading and writing graduation requirements.

"Delay would accomplish nothing," he said.

Exactly. At a policy level, protecting what accountability in education we have is worth throwing oneself on the proverbial train tracks for. At a political level, it's a potential gift to Republican candidates willing to run on important issues like this that resonate with the public.

Posted by Eric Earling at January 16, 2007 07:51 AM | Email This
Comments
1. make a standard, drop a standard. make reforms, fail reforms. pay consultants, order more studies. same pattern.

is anyone REALLY interested in change or is the jack-around game the real goal of the efforts?

stall and placate the apathetic public until you are tenured or retired or otherwise untouchable with union or civil servant protections.

what's the choice? refuse to pay for more levies and taxes & have your hard work & property taken?

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on January 16, 2007 08:24 AM
2. we should do this with the Olympics--no one gets a gold/any other medal until everyone feels good & has had 17 additional chances to get their shyt together. gold, silver & bronze would be "tried hard, tried harder, & tried hardest"

after all, "it takes a village"--(to bring down the country).

would the astrounauts have returned from the moon missions & survved re-entry & required millions of precise calculations with only a "tried" or with a "succeeded?"

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on January 16, 2007 08:33 AM
3. The "leaders" in this state are really worried about another kind of lawsuit, one that they don't control by being plaintiffs. There is a lawsuit in New Jersey brought by the parents of children in failing schools to force school choice. It is my belief that many "leaders" know intuitively that this institutional structure is a failure and cannot be fixed. They cling to the current structure because of political considerations, many of the stakeholders in their political success have a vested interest in the current failing system. They want to get elected and they either don't have kids, don't have kids in public schools or their kids are grown. Should enough parents of children who have failed the WASL and who fail to graduate or those who because of low WASL scores have some of their opportunities diminish, look for a lawsuit. For this state, this could be as big a deal as the tobacco litigation. The New Jersey law suit probably has these "leaders" very scared because of the potential dollars needed for a remedy to hire tutors and really educate a huge class of kids. In other words, to undue the damage of failing schools.

True competiton in education, charter schools and vouchers would really diminish some "leader's" power and would in the long run reduce the class of permanent victims.

Posted by: WVH on January 16, 2007 08:50 AM
4. Too many snow days and the teachers don't want to extend school to meet requirements? No problem!! Declare and emergency and drop the requirements for this year. This penalizes districts that at least try to hold school during these one inch blizzards.

Posted by: swatter on January 16, 2007 09:12 AM
5. WASL delay?

Hells bells, the kids haven't had a full day of school since last Tuesday! It's getting ridiculous... At 4am (yes, I was up checking the website) there was no report of a schedule change, at 5am school was declared delayed for 2 hours and at 8am it was cancelled... again.

Posted by: Ragnar Danneskold on January 16, 2007 10:09 AM
6. Preparing for a test is a priori proof of "future time orientation" and thus racist

HA

Posted by: righton on January 16, 2007 10:56 AM
7. Lots of good comments. It is clear that the WEA or should I say the NEA, owns the democratic party in this state. It is now payback time as far as the WEA sees things. It doesn't matter how often the WEA has violated various campaign finance laws, the helped the D's win and now it is their turn to claim the prize.

Changes in school levy law percentages, increased education funding, all kinds of things will be claimed by the WEA.

If the WASL was fully implemented, people whose kids lives would be destroyed by the "obvious lack of education." would be up in arms and the lawsuits and political backlash would be a real problem for WEA and hence for the democrats.

Without a WASL the lack of a good education can be hidden from most of the voters, who will blame the lack of success of their children on racism, class structure and other factors.

The WEA has the votes, unless major business speaks up and says it will leave or not hire students who don't pass a standardized test, then the WASL is gone.

Posted by: Bob on January 16, 2007 01:11 PM
8. Why doesn't the state admit that probably about 15% of the students don't have the intelligence needed to ever pass the WASL or qualify for higher educatiion? They can spend millions more dollars, dumb down the test and/or reduce class sizes, but there will still be about the same percentage that never will, never can & never should pass the test.

A few frank talks with parents will clarify this situation and help them see that they should encourage the students to go to technical schools or learn a trade that does not require the higher level of education that they can never achieve.

Posted by: CleanHouse on January 17, 2007 01:20 PM
9. Cleanhouse:

I have to disagree with you. Marva Collins, a gifted educator, took children from Chicago public schools and was able to educate those who the Chicago public schools had given up on. In Belgium, they have school choice and there are a variety of types of schools allowing parents to choose the education style that is best for their child. A uniform institutional structure as we have now assures unifrom mediocrity. There has to be competition in the education sector. Studies have shown that if there are high expectations and competant teaching, children can meet the high expectations. We need competition in education.

Posted by: WVH on January 17, 2007 09:57 PM
10. My kids are good students, but I don't allow them to take WASL tests. No need to. I also home school quite a bit. I have to because the teachers spend so much time on WASL prep, they have no time for real skills.

To give you an idea on why I don't support WASL, take a look at how "WASL math" is taught.

Meteorologist MJ McDermott forgets to mention that the math books mentioned in this video are made to match up with WASL. TERC is even made by the creators of the math WASL.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr1qee-bTZI

Posted by: Agent99 on January 19, 2007 12:22 PM
11. So many of you are so right. With the windstorm and the snow days there just isn't enough time to properly teach the students. We need more time and I know where to get some. WASL time uses up approximattely 6% of our school districts instructional time. Let's take back that WASL time and use it for instructional time for students in the old 3 R's. We would even have enough time to give the ITED or some similar standard test to see how the students are doing and where we need to work more. The students who didn't do well could have their old WASL time devoted to work on their weak areas. The rest could go on learning things like algebra, grammar, science, etc.

You think that I am exagerating about the 6% of the school year being devoted to WASL. Here's how it breaks down in our district. Late starts by one hour every Monday of the school year for teacher training in WASL techniques. One hour per week of class time for special WASL class for all students. Nine half days for WASL test time in the spring, when those who are not testing basically sit around and twiddle their thumbs while the test goes on. And this does not include the time spent on WASL style questions during regular class time.

Their is one major problem with this plan. If we dropped the WASL there would be extra money that would need to be spent, because the WASL, its development and implementation are very expensive. That's why the governor is asking for so much more money for education. I guess we could skip the tax increases and just use the savings to help teach the kids their reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetice instead of teaching relating and whatever else Terry Bergeson says the 3 R's are.

Posted by: home_mom on January 19, 2007 01:15 PM
12. NO part of the WASL should not be implemented as a graduation requirement until the "alternatives" that OSPI was charged with developing, in last year's legislative session, are in place and READY TO USE. Currently, there are no clear alternatives in workable order, and students who for whatever reason "fail" the WASL, have no recourse. OSPI has once again dropped the ball, perhaps thinking if there are no viable alternatives, the students would "take the WASL seriously."
I am disheartened by how many people still equate "WASL" with "High Standards" or "skills." "Testing" does not equal "educating." There are myriad problems in our public school system, but WASLizing the curriculum and the students doesn't fix any of them. Passing WASL is no guarantee that of "necessary skills" or quality education. Passing simply means the student learned how to pass a test. Shouldn't 12 years of teacher's evaluations and student course work count for more than a yearly "test?"

Posted by: austinrobi on January 19, 2007 01:29 PM
13. Bob. You are like many WA residents who wrongly assume the WASL is a standardized test, it is NOT! It has only been validated by its own creaters. Until Washingtonians GET IT, nothing will improve in education. Outside reliable evaluators give WA's education "standards" (that drive WASL) an F in Math, English, and US History; a D in World History and a C- in Science. This should have been a "RED" flag, years ago.

Education just continues to go downhill and our Legislatures should be ashamed for allowing Bergeson to drive the train wreck. Nothing will change for the better as long as the train wreck engineer is at the wheel. She heads the SBE and is on the governor's panel, Washington Learns. She has tried to fix the EALR's by expanding them into GLE's. And recently, she's made a bigger mess with them trying another one of her band-aid fixes. That's about as logical as giving an aspirin to cure cancer.

We need to use real world standards that compete with top performing countries, California did that in the late 90's with the CA green dots. Why are we so backwards, how many times do we have to get hit with the mud pie? Even the feds have done an about face and now recommend only three or four solid math standards per grade level. You can't teach everyday real world problem solving skills until you teach, what we know as basics. Kids don't even know what 5 X 6 is without a calculator. Young fast food and retails workers can't give back the correct change if you give them a couple of cents. A recent example: I owed $12.78 and I give the clerk $15.03, he didn't know that $2.25 is the change, he tried to give back the three pennies and $2.22 as the register tells them. I patiently asked the guy what $2.22 plus three pennies equaled, he looked stunned.

I do not see improvement coming with the current leadership, in fact, how many more years will we continue with "stay the course" that has already been proven doomed.

The huge question remains: When is it okay to deny even one student a diploma when the system is brokendown?

Do I hear impeachment? Or, will WASL stand for We're All Slow Learners?

Posted by: ConcernedWAparent on January 19, 2007 01:57 PM
14. NOT ONE STUDENT should be denied a WA state diploma if they have done the time and earned their credits.

NO ONE TEST should determine what a child has learned. A "test" given over ONE segment of time should NOT be the measure of an education for a child. Illness, outside influences (death of a relative, divorce, etc,) or other life challenges can fall in or around that time and can deeply influence a testing outcome. RE-takes? Yes, they are available, but at a high cost per test implementation.

NO ONE TEST should be imposed on students around the state when the playing field is NOT on EVEN ground to begin with. District to district the children, schools and programs are not equally funded... and availability to equal education is not in place. NE Washington high schools are on a level of Mercer Island? I think NOT!

All is fair in love and war, but NOT IN TESTING CHILDREN! Until everyone starts with the same opportunities and availability to succeed, then there should BE NO WASL! There IS still time to drop WASL and implement a standard test which will actually HELP children, instead of scrambling their thought processes. NONE of them should be HIGH STAKES! Celebrate the differences in children's skills, talents, interests, hopes and dreams for their futures. Squeezing them into a "one-size-fits-ALL" educational BOX called "WASL" is NOT inspiring them to grow and thirst for more education. WASL kills the JOY of learning! Heck, WASL kills the JOY of teaching!
WASL is a train wreck headed off the path of TRUE high standards.
Readin' Ritin' & 'Rithmetic ROCK!
Representing, Relating, and Resoning is what WASL is testing, NOT the true three R's of basic education.

Posted by: Fed_Up_with_WASL on January 19, 2007 02:26 PM
15. Keep in mind we have 1.2 million kids in our public schools.
When the percentages are given, take time to push some numbers and DO THE MATH......THEN keep in mind that the NUMBERS = CHILDREN's LIVES.
The numbers are flesh and blood kids who have goals and represent the promise of the future for ALL of us.
High standards? YES! High Stakes? NO!
Just make SURE you know WHAT they mean by "high standards"....... they aren't what they USED to be folks. "Preparing children for a global economy" isn't going to do much good if they can't identify WHERE they ARE on a globe!
WHAT A MESS. Thank you, Dr. Bergeson for 10 years of convoluted, experimental, and TWISTED education imposed on our precious children.
"Tell a child they are a failure and they will BE a failure!" Test them-fail them-test them AGAIN-fail them again. Kick them again when they are down.. and then test them again. This is NOT how you build a love of education and prepare them for the life-long lessons of life.
Testing to identify kids with learning challenges is appropriate ONLY if you have the programs in place to HELP them after being identified. Otherwise, it is just plain cruel and unusual punishment to over-test and under-teach our kids, only to hold them up to a bar they are not able to reach. Teachers are doing what they are mandated to do by the State Legislature. The LAW says passing the WASL is mandatory to earn a diploma in our state. This does NOT mean they LIKE the process, approve of the test driven curriculum, or the "TEST" itself. C'mon teachers, tell us what YOU think! It's time to step up and let us know what's going on in your classrooms! SOME of us still value, trust and respect the views of our seasoned teachers. Evidently, OSPI doesn't. Tsk...tsk... tsk... SHAME ON OSPI! All hail the mighty WASL... the savior of education!

Posted by: Fed_Up_with_WASL on January 19, 2007 02:55 PM
16. To all those who think the WASL is the "Be-All" and "End-All" of education:

Do your research!!! THE WASL IS A LOAD OF BS!!!

Google Teresa (Terry) Bergeson and Shirley McCune. You will find both are hard-core fanatics of the teachings of Robert Carkhuff. He is the one who backs up the ideas of Representing, Relating and Reasoning (the New 3 R's on which the WASL is based on, not Reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic). What you will find will shock you, especially on Ms. McCune, who co-wrote "And The Light Shall Set You Free."

Look up Kristin Kline, aka "Grumpy Consumer" with the Snohomish Tribune. She did an in-depth study of the WASL and found many things wrong with it, along with its backers in the OSPI!!

Go to Nancy Vernon's website, www.thetruthaboutwaedreform.org and get an even BIGGER understanding about the WASL, Bergeson, McCune and Carkhuff!!

And if you still want more info, go to www.wheresthemath.org as well!!!

If, after READING ALL of the information on these sites, you STILL think the WASL is great, then try taking it yourself and tell us how well you do on it!! (Oh, be careful the state doesn't screw up and lose your test like it did for one school district--yep, all of the make-up WASL tests taken in August 2006 in the Ki-Be School district got LOST!!! The kids will have to take the WASL AGAIN!!!)

NO MORE WASL!!!!

Posted by: Julie Messerer on January 19, 2007 03:15 PM
17. To all those who think the WASL is the "Be-All" and "End-All" of education:

Do your research!!! THE WASL IS A LOAD OF BS!!!

Google Teresa (Terry) Bergeson and Shirley McCune. You will find both are hard-core fanatics of the teachings of Robert Carkhuff. He is the one who backs up the ideas of Representing, Relating and Reasoning (the New 3 R's on which the WASL is based on, not Reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic). What you will find will shock you, especially on Ms. McCune, who co-wrote "And The Light Shall Set You Free."

Look up Kristin Kline, aka "Grumpy Consumer" with the Snohomish Tribune. She did an in-depth study of the WASL and found many things wrong with it, along with its backers in the OSPI!!

Go to Nancy Vernon's website, www.thetruthaboutwaedreform.org and get an even BIGGER understanding about the WASL, Bergeson, McCune and Carkhuff!!

And if you still want more info, go to www.wheresthemath.org as well!!!

If, after READING ALL of the information on these sites, you STILL think the WASL is great, then try taking it yourself and tell us how well you do on it!! (Oh, be careful the state doesn't screw up and lose your test like it did for one school district--yep, all of the make-up WASL tests taken in August 2006 in the Ki-Be School district got LOST!!! The kids will have to take the WASL AGAIN!!!)

NO MORE WASL!!!!

Posted by: Julie Messerer on January 19, 2007 03:15 PM
18. To all those who think the WASL is the "Be-All" and "End-All" of education:

Do your research!!! THE WASL IS A BOONDOGGLE!!!

Google Teresa (Terry) Bergeson and Shirley McCune. You will find both are hard-core fanatics of the teachings of Robert Carkhuff. He is the one who backs up the ideas of Representing, Relating and Reasoning (the New 3 R's on which the WASL is based on, not Reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic). What you will find will shock you, especially on Ms. McCune, who co-wrote "And The Light Shall Set You Free."

Look up Kristin Kline, aka "Grumpy Consumer" with the Snohomish Tribune. She did an in-depth study of the WASL and found many things wrong with it, along with its backers in the OSPI!!

Go to Nancy Vernon's website, www.thetruthaboutwaedreform.org and get an even BIGGER understanding about the WASL, Bergeson, McCune and Carkhuff!!

And if you still want more info, go to www.wheresthemath.org as well!!!

If, after READING ALL of the information on these sites, you STILL think the WASL is great, then try taking it yourself and tell us how well you do on it!! (Oh, be careful the state doesn't screw up and lose your test like it did for one school district--yep, all of the make-up WASL tests taken in August 2006 in the Ki-Be School district got LOST!!! The kids will have to take the WASL AGAIN!!!)

NO MORE WASL!!!!

Posted by: Julie Messerer on January 19, 2007 03:15 PM
19. To all those who think the WASL is the "Be-All" and "End-All" of education:

Do your research!!! THE WASL IS A LOAD OF BS!!!

Google Teresa (Terry) Bergeson and Shirley McCune. You will find both are hard-core fanatics of the teachings of Robert Carkhuff. He is the one who backs up the ideas of Representing, Relating and Reasoning (the New 3 R's on which the WASL is based on, not Reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic). What you will find will shock you, especially on Ms. McCune, who co-wrote "And The Light Shall Set You Free."

Look up Kristin Kline, aka "Grumpy Consumer" with the Snohomish Tribune. She did an in-depth study of the WASL and found many things wrong with it, along with its backers in the OSPI!!

Go to Nancy Vernon's website, www.thetruthaboutwaedreform.org and get an even BIGGER understanding about the WASL, Bergeson, McCune and Carkhuff!!

And if you still want more info, go to www.wheresthemath.org as well!!!

If, after READING ALL of the information on these sites, you STILL think the WASL is great, then try taking it yourself and tell us how well you do on it!! (Oh, be careful the state doesn't screw up and lose your test like it did for one school district--yep, all of the make-up WASL tests taken in August 2006 in the Ki-Be School district got LOST!!! The kids will have to take the WASL AGAIN!!!)

NO MORE WASL!!!!

Posted by: Julie Messerer on January 19, 2007 03:16 PM
20. My kids are good students. I don't allow them to take WASL tests. I cannot see any benefit to them taking it. Besides if they fail (I doubt that they would, since they are good students) the school can force them to take remedial classes when they enter middle school(They are in elementary school now).

It's called an SLP (Student Learning Plan.) This is forced on every student that fails WASL. Seventh grade class placement is based on fourth grade WASL scores! It would be fine if a student really needed remedial classes (and I am sure the majority of WASL failures do), but my niece failed the math WASL by one point, and was denied orchestra when she entered seventh grade because it was at the same time as the remedial WASL math class! My sister was fit to be tied! Especially since she could not view the WASL test to see if any scoring errors had been made. Six weeks went by (and a lawsuit threat) before my niece was back in orchestra.

I don't trust the scoring of WASL and I don't like all the time spent on the "WASL way" instead of real skills.

To see how WASL math is taght, watch a video that will show you pages right out of the math reform textbooks that my kids use.

What is not mentioned in the video, is that the same company that wrote the math WASL, distributes the TERC textbooks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr1qee-bTZI


Posted by: Agent99 on January 19, 2007 03:20 PM
21. We know the percentages, but how many students will NOT be graduating?

Number of students NOT meeting standards in Reading and Writing:

Reading:
13,436

Writing:
15,094


Only 51.8% of students who were tested in all 3 subjects met standard in all 3 content areas. Which I believe means that about 39,507 students (48.2% of 81,966)in the class of 2008 will NOT be graduating.


http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/WASLCurrent.aspx?schoolId=1&reportLevel=State&year=2005-06&gradeLevel=10

Posted by: berta on January 19, 2007 03:27 PM
22. Agent99
Good for you, opting your students out of WASL! I wish more parents knew that this is possible.

WASL is infamous for its subjective and ever-changing scoring, and the contract is handled by Pearson (who also really goofed up thousands of SATs this past year). The consequences (SLP and remedial WASLization) are too high to take the chance with your student's education.
Parents need to realize they have the RIGHT to opt their children out of the testing madness (simply write a note to that effect and deliver it to your school administrator), AND that they do NOT have to sign or let the school implement an SLP, either.
These are OUR children. We have entrusted their education to the system, and it is up to us to JUST SAY NO to things that are detrimental to the learning process that should be going on.

For more information on OPTING OUT, visit www.mothersagainstwasl.org.


Posted by: austinrobi on January 19, 2007 03:53 PM
23. Gee, anyone think this post ended up on a distributrion list for an anti-WASL group? Yikes.

Posted by: Eric Earling on January 19, 2007 06:30 PM
24. May I pose a question to the WASL haters. If not this assessment tool, whatever its flaws, what assessment tool would you use to demonstrate competancy to a standard of basic education? The Chinese just blew one of their satellites out of the sky. Bill Gates has said that we need more science and tech students. Frankly, in the k-12 arena, other countries are eating our lunch. The quiet elimination of the WASL and any other standards of competancy has little to do with your objections, but has everything to do with the fact that the school system will have a difficult time educating most students to any stringent standard. "Leaders" simply don't want the quantitative evidence around that a class action lawyer could use in a lawsuit. Focusing on the WASL is missing the really big picture.

Posted by: WVH on January 19, 2007 07:05 PM
25. I graduated before any "high stakes test" or "competency assessment tool" (other than teachers) was used or thought necessary.
Back in those days, if you didn't master 7th grade math, you didn't go on to 8th grade math; etc., for all other required courses, from K-12.
What was wrong with that system?
Those that wanted to go to college worked hard for a competitive GPA, and to score well enough on entrance exams to be accepted and further their education. Those that did not want to go on found a different route.
This was accepted practice, and everyone knew it. Students were more responsible for their own learning then than they are now, even with the onus of Ms. Bergeson's "WASL" hanging over their heads.

Think of the money saved by not testing, testing, testing. Imagine what might happen if some of those funds were used for curriculum materials, etc?

As I recall, NCLB doesn't require exit exams for some time down the road, anyway. Why not use a minimal score on the MAP, or the ITBS? Or let everyone take the ASSET assessment currently used for community college placement?
Better yet, change NCLB, and stop the madness. "Testing" does not equal "educating."


Posted by: austinrobi on January 19, 2007 09:24 PM
26. First I want to explain the redundant and duplicate posts on this thread. Sound Politics must have had a glitch in the system this afternoon, because when I posted my first comment it did not show up after an hour. I then re-posted a similar comment. All of a sudden my earlier post, plus many other people's posts showed up all at once!...


It is Washington State and Terry Bergeson that came up with the WASL. Washington State could use any test to fulfill the No Child Left Behind requirements. Bergeson spent millions creating the WASL, when other tests were already available. Most states are using tests that cost about $6 to $20 per student. The WASL costs $54 for most lower grades (test in 3 subjects) and $72 for the tenth grade (4 subjects are tested). WHY IS WASHINGTON USING SUCH AN EXPENSIVE TEST?

We could easily use the MAP test (Measures of Academic Progress). This test takes only 2 days to administer, and results are back in 72 hours. It is given to students in the fall and then in the spring to measure progress over the school year. I heard that this test is paperless (done on computer and is the test that Idaho has chosen to use). This test only costs $12 per student per year.

Also, any student that gets an acceptable score on the SAT or ACT (doesn't the military have a test too?) should be exempt from having to waste three weeks doing the WASL..

My niece that I spoke of earlier is only a sophomore, but a few weeks ago she went and took her SAT. She is in advanced placement classes with mostly seniors and felt ready (she scored very high on previous tests).

If we assume she scores well on her SAT, why should she spend three weeks this spring taking the WASL?. That's a lot of time for her to miss in her advanced placement classes. Remember the non-testing juniors and seniors will still be attending class. I think it is more important for her to be in class than WASLing.

Posted by: Agent99 on January 19, 2007 10:53 PM
27. "...Bill Gates has said that we need more science and tech students"

Have you seen the WASL math? It is rated worst in the nation (from the Fordham Institute).

If we continue with this WASL math, our students wont get any high tech jobs. The tenth grade math WASL does not even expect kids to do higher math skills like algebra and trig. And there is no incentive for the schools to educate your kids past the level of the tenth grade WASL!

And as far as tech goes, my children's school dropped tech lab because they fill the time with WASL prep now! Tech is not tested on the WASL, so there is no reason to teach it!


I think testing is important, and there are some good tests out there (as previously mentioned). All the other tests are cheaper, take less time and are far more accurate than the WASL..

But the tests need to be used differently. Currently, there is so much riding on the WASL test scores that everything else is overlooked. You have politicians and our state superintendent in charge of developing the measuring system, that is going to be used to measure themselves. The cut score needed to pass WASL has been lowered several times, now we have delay in the math requirement?! (And remember how much we have spent on WASL.) WASL is becoming more meaningless all the time!

We need some "independent" ways of measuring the academic quality of our state that cannot be tampered with. For example, I would feel that education quality was increasing in this state if more students went on to earn college degrees; if we had fewer high school drop outs; and if our big local employers were hiring more locals.

Its funny, though, because WASL has been around for 12 years now, WASL scores are going up, but the things I just mentioned are going down.

I believe it is BECAUSE OF WASL!!

Does any one actually believe that education is improving because WASL scores are going up?

Posted by: Agent99 on January 20, 2007 12:16 AM
28. Agent99:

You are missing my point which is the education system fails most students and doesn't give a quality basic education to most. The WASL is just one instrument to measure. My thesis is: Whatever instrument is used, the kids don't measure up, the powers that be know this and don't want any quantitative evidence because that spells class action lawsuit. That is the point. People will be beating the WASL to death while the ship has already sunk.

Posted by: WVH on January 20, 2007 03:53 PM
29. "The WASL is just one instrument to measure."

This is where you are wrong, perhaps you haven't been inside a classroom lately. THE WASL IS THE ONLY INSTRUMENT!! Which is why people like myself have a problem with it.

My third grader came home with a newsletter in Dec. stating that after holiday break, they would be "buckling down" for WASL. My other children's classroom did not send home such a notice, but is obviously doing the same. My children are doing nothing but WASL prep. Now most reasonable people would think that "WASL prep" means brushing up on basic skills. It does not.

This is where I think the confusion over "WASL prep" comes in. When WASL opponents talk about "WASL prep" it has nothing to do with basic skills. You see, my son writes too large. So during his math class (well it has now become WASL prep class). He is given a piece of paper with a box on it. He has to practice writing small, so that his essay answer to the math problem will fit in the box. According to WASL, the essay answer to math problems are the most important part. You see WASL essay questions are scanned, and only what is written in the box will show up. So I guess the schools feel it is important to teach "writing small". After all, they are so harshly judged by WASL scores that they must cover every aspect of test taking.

Do I seem unreasonable to expect my child to be focusing on real math during math class ?


Stuff like this will go on for weeks before the WASL test, then when WASL is over in the spring , the teachers act as if the school year is over. There is NO INCENTIVE TO TEACH OVER AND BEYOND WHAT IS ON WASL! The smart kids are getting shortchanged

As I said before, since WASL has been around, our kids are less prepared for college than ever before, the drop out rate has increased, and our big companies are hiring from outside the region. As long as schools are only judge by WASL scores, it will just encourage them to focus on WASL, WASL, WASL! And it certainly doesn't help my children any.

I do appreciate and understand you argument, WVH, (I think). I think what you are saying is that, any assessment tool will have critics, and if we spend too much time bickering over them, we will loose focus on the fact that education is in desperate need of fixing and nothing will get done.

Also, I want to make sure I understand you correctly about avoiding a class action lawsuit. Are you saying that the schools and/or politicians keep softening WASL so that it doesn't expose the fact that mostly minority students will be denied diplomas?
If so, I probably agree with you.

Posted by: Agent99 on January 20, 2007 10:41 PM
30. Agent 99:
"The WASL is just one instrument to measure."

This is a correct statement. You are so focused on the WASL. A system of accountability will measure achievement. The WASL is one tool, there could be other tools such as student portfolios and written assessments of progress, along with other standardized tests.

"Also, I want to make sure I understand you correctly about avoiding a class action lawsuit. Are you saying that the schools and/or politicians keep softening WASL so that it doesn't expose the fact that mostly minority students will be denied diplomas?
If so, I probably agree with you."

I would go even farther. The parents most likely to sue are those who think their kid has been prevented from going to Princeton or Stanford or another top tier school. They recetly had an article in the Brit paper, Daily Mail about the lengths achievement oriented parents are willing to go to get their child in a preferred position. I bet the admissions people at Bush and Lakeside have some stories which because of confidentiality they can't tell. There is a fear of a class action lawsuit not only from civil rights groups, but affluent parents who think their child's life chances have beeen compromised.

Posted by: WVH on January 20, 2007 11:23 PM
31. I'm not sure how the state can avoud being the target of a class action lawsuit, but they should have seen that comming. It is unfortunate because students and taxpayers will pay the cost.
WASL is in violation of many things, including your federal right to challenge information on your child's student record when you believe it is incorrect. The scoring of WASL is unreliable and subjective.
The WASL has only been reviewed and validated by Catherine Taylor and by the National Technical Advisory Committee. These are the same people that created the WASL! It is time to let an independent source determine the WASLs validity or use another test that has been independently scrutinized like the ITBS, MAP, CAT.

Posted by: KMS on January 21, 2007 12:16 PM
32. I should add that that Dr. Catherine Taylor put a disclaimer in the WASL Technical Report that states that the test should not be used for high stakes decisions like class placement. Now how does the state expect to avoid a lawsuite when we are doing the opposite of what the test creator recommends?

I would provide you the link to this report that contains this disclaimer, but OSPI has removed it from public viewing.

Posted by: KMS on January 21, 2007 12:28 PM
33. Correction: That should be lawsuit, not lawsuite.

Posted by: KMS on January 21, 2007 12:33 PM
34. I have a question that I struggle with, and thought I would throw it out to anyone reading this thread.

You should know that I am a parent of a child (3rd grade) with minor disabilities (dyslexia and trouble with his hand coordination-makes it difficult for him to write). He works ten times harder in school, then my twin sons (6th grade) who do very well in school. My third grader has already been held back once, and receives allot of extra help. This is the first year he has worked at grade level (finally!).

I already know that we will put him in private school for high school, so WASL wont be an issue, but if he were to remain in public school and could never pass the WASL, should I just accept this and let him go without a diploma?

Part of me thinks that a diploma should be based on the fact that an individual did the best they could, and put in the time and effort. Without a diploma you are sentencing a child to minimal jobs and lower income, when in fact allot of students that can't pass WASL may have other qualities that make them qualified for professional jobs. I know some students that didn't pass WASL, and are now in college doing just fine. I just don't feel that WASL is an accurate enough assessment to decide who gets a diploma and who doesn't.


But then I see the problem with this, if we let this happen, then schools with minority and low income students will never receive a higher quality of education that they deserve because generally speaking, the reason they have trouble passing WASL is because their schools are sub-standard.

I feel bad for the students similar to my son but can't escape the public schools. All my kids will be going to private school in three years (when my twins enter high school), and it is mostly due to WASL and the terrible curriculum and wasted class time that comes with it.

WASL may hinder my youngest child's ability to receive a diploma, and my high performing kids are held back because there is no incentive to educate them past the WASL. Our local high school has cut many advanced level classes because the teachers are asked to teach remedial math (WASL math-for those student that need to keep trying to pass). Remember even though the math WASL has been delayed, the stipulation is that those student have to keep taking WASL math, so an increase in WASL math classes means a decrease in AP math classes.

Any thoughts?

Posted by: Agent99 on January 21, 2007 04:03 PM
35. Agent 99:

You have two duties, to be a responsible parent and to be a good citizen, the last is a duty we all have.

1. To be a responsible parent means that you take care of your child. If that means private school for that child, so be it.

2. We all have a duty to be responsible citizens. I know that secular progressives have devalued the concept of citizenship, but there is a social compact. We should all be responsible to ensure that public schools give all children an opportuntity for a good public education. Third world countries often do not offer free public education and that is one of the reasons they remain in the third world. Corruption is the other reason and the fact that internationalists who are secular progressives on a global scale are moral relativists and wink and nod at the corruption. The current institutional structure does not work and more money will not make it work. Our duties as citizens, if we want a vibrant economy and strong political system, is to work for a system of free public education that offers a good basic education.

Posted by: WVH on January 21, 2007 06:09 PM
36. Agent 99:

There are alternate means to earn a diploma for those that are unable to pass the WASL, particularly for students in situations like your youngest. If you were to keep your child in public school through high school, you would want to make sure you've discussed those options with the district well in advance.

As to one of your other concerns, school districts shouldn't be cutting advanced classes to teach more non-advanced sections. That defeats the purpose of a rigorous high school experience that should still a priority in our school system. The WASL is simply a grade-level test, ensuring that students have mastered the basic subjects of reading, writing, and math at a 10th grade level as a mere minimum requirement for graduating. Beyond that level, students obviously have to do a lot more with continued, serious study to be "college ready." Often there can be a big difference between qualifying for a diploma and actually meeting that "college ready" level. Districts that aren't providing such options for students aren't serving their communities well.

Posted by: Eric Earling on January 21, 2007 07:23 PM
37. Just a general thought here in response to the complaints against the WASL: it's amazing how many people are willing to reject a test like the WASL that is simply designed to assess whether students are mastering the material their supposed to by a certain grade level, for tests like the ITBS that only tell you how your student compares against other students.

Those test don't tell you if students are actually meeting the standards set for our students. Moreover, ITBS-like tests are the same tests we relied on as we lost touch with how other countries were improving their education systems. We live in a different world then that now, let alone the fantasy visions some of have simply returning to the "3 R's" and everything will be hunky dory. We need to have an education system that's sets standards for kids that are relevant to the modern world, then holds the students and the system accountable for those students reaching those goals.

Posted by: Eric Earling on January 21, 2007 07:29 PM
38. Eric:

I think a lot of the anger directed at the WASL is because schools really aren't doing a good job of basic education.

A couple of your points intrigued me.

1. "Often there can be a big difference between qualifying for a diploma and actually meeting that "college ready" level. Districts that aren't providing such options for students aren't serving their communities well."

Does this mean that the kids aren't ready to go out into the world or further training. Are the kids at a level of basic education or not? If not, then isn't the WASL measuring the degree of failure?

2. "We live in a different world then that now, let alone the fantasy visions some of have simply returning to the "3 R's" and everything will be hunky dory. We need to have an education system that's sets standards for kids that are relevant to the modern world, then holds the students and the system accountable for those students reaching those goals."

One of the most successful schools in Scotland at this point is a school that requires students to perfect old fashion handwriting. They have computers available, but they have found it teaches concentration and the ability to complete a task. As for the three Rs, many are questioning the use of calculators. Isn't the issue that kids really lack basic knowledge and basic problem solving skills. When one looks at Indian and Chinese education systems, there is more of an orientation toward basic knowlege and basic skills. So, I'm not sure what you mean.

Posted by: WVH on January 21, 2007 08:25 PM
39. "There are alternate means to earn a diploma for those that are unable to pass the WASL"
Posted by: Eric Earling on January 21, 2007 07:23 PM

That would be nice if all students were allowed to access the alternatives, but the student has to fail twice first, even if you know he can't pass. How is failing twice helping any student? And for those families who have a philosophical/personal reason for not letting their children WASL, they will not be allowed to access alternative assessments at all. Think correctly or be ostracized! I think someone wants us all to be robots.

Posted by: home_mom on January 21, 2007 10:06 PM
40. "There are alternate means to earn a diploma for those that are unable to pass the WASL, particularly for students in situations like your youngest. If you were to keep your child in public school through high school, you would want to make sure you've discussed those options with the district well in advance."

Eric:
From reading what you stated, above, I assume you are speaking of the "DAW" ("developmentally appropriate WASL").

Are you aware that students that use this "alternative" will not earn a "Certificate of Academic Achievement," but will instead be given a "Certificate of Individual Achievement?" What does that mean? Why are we allowing WASL to label our students?

And, speaking of "alternatives," are you aware that the "Collection of Evidence" and the "Cohort Comparison" (or whatever OSPI has taken to calling them these days) are NOT fully developed nor ready for implementation? Our legislature mandated OSPI to have these in place at LAST session...they've had a year to do so, and have not. There is a deadline (Febr for one and March for the other, I believe) for students who have "failed" WASL twice to declare their intent to use these alternatives, but they are finding that their school administrators don't know exactly what that means, or what OSPI will accept.
So the class of 08 is struggling to figure out what hoops to jump through, just to please OSPI. I would hope that the junior year in high school could be spent on more meaningful pursuits: Preparation for college entrance exams, concentration on REAL course work (not WASL remediation), etc. No college in the state requires a WASL score for admission.

Shouldn't OSPI be accountable for having EVERYTHING available for ALL the students their "test" is impacting? Shouldn't they be called upon to explain the reasoning behind creating 2 types of diplomas?

Posted by: austinrobi on January 21, 2007 10:09 PM
41. WVH -

My first point you're curious about was simply noting the WASL is merely a starting point for demonstrating the kind of proficiency kids should have for life beyond high school. Beyond the skills the WASL requires, they'll need to have more rigorous coursework after 10th grade to be prepared for life after high school, particularly if they want to attend community college or a four-year university without having to take remedial classes like so many students do nowadays.

On your second point, I don't disagree with the point about a focus on the basics, the situation you describe sound intriguing. Yet, there are ways to teach basic capabilities like what you discuss while also making that education relevant for the modern world. You can see in some of the comments here and more broadly in some anti-WASL circles a mentality of "I did XYZ when I was in school and I turned out fine. Why does my kid have to do this?" That sort of thinking is simply flat wrong if one looks at the trajectory of how education has generally improved in the aggregate in the last several decades (albeit with still many serious problems remaining).

Posted by: Eric Earling on January 22, 2007 08:29 AM
42. home_mom -

I don't think anyone wants your child to be a robot; I sure don't. I think we do have a system that asks that kids demonstrate whether they've reached a reasonable level of proficiency in some basic subject areas that are necessary for success later in life, no matter what path after high school that might be. If you have strong personal/philosophical reasons for not having your child take the WASL then they should be in private school or being home-schooled, otherwise they should take the test. While not every state has a graduation exam, every state has tests similar to the WASL in frequency and intent, if not structure.

Posted by: Eric Earling on January 22, 2007 08:34 AM
43. Posted by: Eric Earling on January 22, 2007 08:34 AMIf you have strong personal/philosophical reasons for not having your child take the WASL then they should be in private school or being home-schooled, otherwise they should take the test. While not every state has a graduation exam, every state has tests similar to the WASL in frequency and intent, if not structure.

Two points of comment:

1) I have homeschooled in the past because of religious and personal reasons. At the high school level I cannot provide the material needed on my own. Private school is out of the question financially. According to government figures we are poor. They even think my kids need free meals at school, although I don't think we are that poor. Besides, the state is supposed to provide a free public education without a religious overtone. Maybe you don't consider the theosophy and new age ideas pushed by the OSPI and included in the WASL as religious, but I do. I don't find that philosophy pushed in school other than in some of the WASL materials.

2) Why is only the WASL the approved criteria, not SAT or PSAT or ACT or CAT or MAT or MAPS or ITED or ITBS? Besides the scores on those tests that my son has taken that show mastery, he also has good grades and has received reports of competence from his high school principal, teachers, and guidance counselor and will be the valedictorian IF he graduates. Why can those who fail the WASL use alternate means but my son cannot? And why does it have to be a graduation requirement instead of an endorsement or extra certificate like they do with honors at graduation? BTW, other states tests vary considerably in type and whether they are considered "good" tests. The WASL, especially the math WASL has been criticized as a bad test more often than not. Why are we spending so much time and money teaching to a questionable, probably bad, test?

I am sincerely interested in your comments to these questions.

Posted by: home_mom on January 22, 2007 01:00 PM
44. Eric,

Like others have pointed out, to use alternative methods a child must first fail the WASL twice, and then in tenth grade if they use any of the WASL alternatives, they receive an "alternative" diploma called a "Certificate of INDIVIDUAL Achievement" instead of a "Certificate of ACCADEMIC Achievement". Not exactly what I want for my son (or for any child really).

These alternative methods have been mentioned in the news and by politicians, and OSPI (Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) speaks of them as if they are in place already, but they are not. There are some class of ' 08ers that would like to access alternatives, but get the runaround from OSPI.

Also recently the DAW (developmentally appropriate WASL) did not meet federal guidelines so it is no longer an option (I just found out this week). Prior to this ruling, it was recommended that my son take the DAW, but I will not let my him take any form of the WASL..

Because of his disabilities, my third grade son takes more assessments and tests than most kids. Some are by the school, to qualify him for his special services and others are by doctors and specialists that I pay for privately and then he goes to Sylvan where they have their own standardized test..

Since he is tested and assessed so much, I feel that I must pick which tests are worth the time and effort. As a parent, I like to know what my child is doing. The fact that WASL cannot be viewed before hand, classrooms are locked and windows covered, has such a poor reputation, is subjectively scored and takes SO MUCH TIME; I just cannot give my consent.

My son would probably take more than the two hours per day (for two weeks) that his class is planning to allow for WASL. I was told he could move into the library to finish after the two hours is up, but I don't want him testing for more than two hours per day ( that is allot for a young child like him). The other choice would be to have him go for two hours each day for three weeks. So while his other classmates are getting back to regular class instruction and learning, my son would be WASLing. I think classtime is more important than WASL..

As far as your response to my comment about schools cutting AP classes to accommodate WASL. Everything is getting cut to accommodate WASL. Schools get judged and punished over WASL scores, so everything else gets the back seat. Schools do not get rewarded for how high their students score on the SAT or other things that prepare them for higher education, so why bother. As long as they have high WASL scores they look good.

Until we have proof that more kids are ready for college, fewer drop outs, and more locals employed in high end jobs, I will never believe that WASL is improving education.

Posted by: Agent99 on January 22, 2007 01:21 PM
45. home_mom -

I sympathize with your dilemma. My own children attend private school in part to provide the religious and moral instruction we'd like our kids to receive with their academic education.

If my kids did attend public school, which would certainly be an option in a number of circumstances, I would be ok with them taking the WASL, and would place more emphasis on augmenting their education outside the school on the other areas you indicate. I know sometimes that's easier said then done, but that's the reality.

As to the tests you note, almost all of those are "norm-referenced" based tests. They essentially measure how kids are doing against their peers, though in some settings the SAT or PSAT can actually show some demonstration as to whether or not kids are meeting the standards a school system has set for a specific grade. Test like the WASL are "criterion-based" tests, which measure whether or not a student is reaching a specified level of proficiency, not necessarily how they're doing against their peers or against students of different grade levels (my kids likewise score well on Stanford Achievement Tests at the elementary level which are "norm-referenced").

At a certain point, our education system spent too much time for years comparing how kids were doing against each other. Or passing kids with good grades only to find out they weren't actually mastering the content their high school diplomas implied they had. Something needed to change. The WASL isn't perfect - no system run by humans is - but it's better than what we had in the past.

Now, I'm sympathetic to the concern about poor test taking ability compared to other academic performance. My own SAT's scores where above average but by no means impressive. Yet I had a 3.9 GPA at a private, college-prep high school, and a 3.7 GPA at a selective, liberal arts college, and I got into Phi Betta Kappa. I'm the first to affirm that while tests are a good measure of students in the aggregate, there are students whose performance on standardized tests of any kind are not good measures of their true mastery of expected skills and knowledge. Accordingly, there are options for students like yours who can demonstrate a strong academic record in spite of not faring well enough on the WASL. I presume if your child would be a valedictorian but is not passing the WASL you would want to explore those options with your school/school district.

Lastly, you raise the idea of different tests in different states. That's true, yet part of our decentralized system of education in this country. And, your question about the math test is a good one. The math test may need improvement; I don't doubt that. But the evidence seems to indicate the problem lies more with bad math instruction and curriculum across the state (at least instruction and curriculum that is not consistently effective) rather than simply an imperfect test.

Posted by: Eric Earling on January 22, 2007 01:30 PM
46. "The other choice would be to have him go for two hours each day for three weeks."

Actually, I just assummed this would be another choice. As I give it more thought, it is not an option because all students must work on the same sections at the same time.

Posted by: Agent99 on January 22, 2007 01:33 PM
47. Erik:
Since your children attend private schools, what is your personal experience with the WASL?
I hope you are not basing your opinions on the "samples" found on OSPIs web site.........

Posted by: austinrobi on January 22, 2007 04:15 PM
48. austinrobi -

I work at the US Dept of Education in Seattle, where as part of the Office of Communications and Outreach I spend a lot of time working on No Child Left Behind (NCLB). I've been working in public policy a long time and have followed the WASL debate and implementation since then. Meanwhile, NCLB asks for similar things as the WASL in the way of states setting standards for kids, then holding school systems accountable for getting kids to those standards as measured by grade-level tests. Thus, I'm well acquainted with the policy issues at hand.

Posted by: Eric Earling on January 22, 2007 06:10 PM
49. Eric:
Thanks for the clarification.
I still have to wonder: Have you ever actually held a sacred WASL in your hand, or read through one? Can you really support a test in which a wrong answer with a long explanation is awarded more points than the correct answer?
I find it mind boggling.

From following this debate for the last few years myself, it seems our problems start with the EARLs (or GLEs, whichever we are calling them now.) Since those are under scrutiny, and are still evolving, it makes sense that the WASL SHOULD still be evolving.
What does NOT make sense is why a still evolving (ie Not Yet Ready For Prime Time) "tool" can be held up as THE requirment for graduation.
IT IS NOT READY (I personally doubt it ever will be). I think the class of 2008 has their feet to the fire simply because Terry Bergeson, the self-proclaimed "Queen of the WASL," decided, on a whim, that students were not taking the WASL "seriously." She reasoned that if she upped the ante, students would buckle down, scores would go up, and she'd be Everybody's Darling.
DIDN'T happen, ain't gonna happen, and the class of 2008 should NOT be held accountable for her shortcomings and failed policy.

Posted by: austinrobi on January 22, 2007 06:40 PM
50. Posted by: Eric Earling on January 22, 2007 01:30 PM
Accordingly, there are options for students like yours who can demonstrate a strong academic record in spite of not faring well enough on the WASL. I presume if your child would be a valedictorian but is not passing the WASL you would want to explore those options with your school/school district.

My reply to Eric:

I'm glad that your children have had the opportunity to attend private school. I would like to do that but travel and tuition are both too high. The descrepancy between the WASL values and my personal moral and religious values make it impossible for me to agree in good conscience to take part in the WASL. That is where the problem is. You have to fail the WASL twice in order to access the alternatives. We tried having him register but not actually sit for the WASL on two different occasions, assuming that would give him two zero's. OSPI has ruled that such tactics are not failures, so he can not use the alternatives. He would qualify under the alternatives, but is denied access because he didn't actually attempt all sections.

I looked back at my previous post and it looks like I didn't make it clear why the alternatives don't work for my son. I think current policy is discrimination based on my personal religious/moral beliefs.

The other problem that you would not encounter in private schools is the inordinate amount of time being spent teaching to the students how to take the test. Our district spends one hour per week with a late start so teachers can learn WASL strategy and an additional hour per week teaching students during class time how to take the test. None of these two hours is used to teach course content like grammar and math. I think that is a factor in declining achievement in my local school.

Posted by: h on January 22, 2007 06:47 PM
51. Agent99 -

You say:

"Until we have proof that more kids are ready for college, fewer drop outs, and more locals employed in high end jobs, I will never believe that WASL is improving education."

An excellent point on the first half of your statement. It's worth noting some progress has been made on this front in recent years, particularly in crafting public policy that actually reflects realistic means by which to achieve such goals (enhanced high school graduation requirements, emphasis on more rigorous coursework, expansion of AP classes, etc.). Obviously, those improvements have occurred unevenly across the school system in the state and nation but they are happening. What I find even more interesting is that those that favor the kind of aggressive improvement of goals in education like what you outline tend to favor tests like the WASL. Meanwhile, its folks unwilling to up the rigor, especially the WEA, that tend to oppose the WASL. Now certainly, not everyone fits that characterization, but it seems rather revealing.

More specifically related to your child, I certainly understand your angst about the situation. But at the same time, I think it bears repeating that the WASL system (or anything even remotely similar) is designed to assess most students. It can't be perfect for every child. Obviously, for students like yours it's not a great fit, but for truly atypical students of any kind, public schools are rarely a great fit in any circumstance.

Lastly, you say:

"As far as your response to my comment about schools cutting AP classes to accommodate WASL. Everything is getting cut to accommodate WASL. Schools get judged and punished over WASL scores, so everything else gets the back seat. Schools do not get rewarded for how high their students score on the SAT or other things that prepare them for higher education, so why bother. As long as they have high WASL scores they look good."

My experience doesn't match yours. Yes, there are times some districts have cut back in other areas to focus on WASL-related topics. Depending on the circumstance that can be a good or bad thing, usually the latter. Either way, those are issues for local constituents to address with teachers, principals, superintendents, school board members, etc. Moreover, my experience in dealing with the education community is that there is a broader understanding (in most circles) that the WASL is not the be-all-and-end-all of education. Honestly, the only people I've found who think it is are opponents the WASL, and testing in general.

Posted by: Eric Earling on January 22, 2007 06:51 PM
52. austinrobi -

I understand your point. No set of standards is perfect, nor is any test. Yet, by the same token they're not terrible, though I suspect you and I would disagree about the degree to which the WASL is flawed. Either way, what we're asking is that kids demonstrate a 10th grade level of proficiency in order to qualify for a diploma (and obviously, there is much more that goes into earning a diploma than that). Even with an imperfect test is that asking too much?

Posted by: Eric Earling on January 22, 2007 06:56 PM
53. Eric,

It is good to know your background. I hope you listen to the concerns of the WASL opposition. I have found that many people that promote WASL are from outside the public school system. At a glance it all sounds so good. I think you even described the WASL as "simply a test" to make sure students are learning their basic skills and to hold schools accountable. I wish that were the case, and if it were I would have no problem letting all my children take WASL.

The reality is that the curriculum is being built around the WASL, and it is a poor curriculum. Children spend far less time in the classroom because of WASL. I think in a previous post some one mentioned 6%. I'm just guessing, but I bet my school spends 10% to 20% of classroom time on WASL . In the Bellevue school district they have an early release every Wednesday, so that teachers can build curriculum around WASL . Many classes become WASL prep classes. And since high schools have mixed grade classes, the whole high schools have a late start while the sophomores take WASL. It is this lack of quality class time that is hindering a students ability to have the skills necessary to compete in today's world, and this lack of class time is due to WASL. Like I said in a previous post, my third grader is practicing "writing small" so that his answer will fit in his WASL box. Very little math is happening in math classes today, but then the WASL requires very little basic math.


My children's school is known for its high WASL scores. There is even a waiting list to get into the school (at least there used to be). I started my oldest children there because they were good readers before they entered kindergarten. At this school students are placed by ability not grade. When my twins entered fourth grade (2 years ago) they took the WASL and scored well. On one child's report card, a teacher described my son as a "mathematical genius". Then when he was doing some homework at the kitchen table, he started asking me for multiplication answers (Mom,...What's 2 x 3?...Mom, what's 4 x 6?, etc). Then when I had them both tested at Sylvan (the CAT), they found "holes" in their knowledge base. My sons had the typical problems that is being reported all around the state with the TERC math curriculum. It does not teach basic skills like multiplication and long division, and it relies heavily on a calculator. But guess what? TERC curriculum is geared around the WASL..

The school cuts more and more to make room for WASL prep (even Tech lab. has been discontinued). I wanted to take my kids out of the school, but they begged me not to. My deal with them is that they can stay as long as they get their math education from Sylvan.

The more I study about WASL, the less I like about it. I am sure my twins would pass if I let them take it again, but I can't support something that I feel is hindering every child's education and is forcing me out of the public school system.

If you have any influence over WASL policy in your job, I hope you will share these concerns.

Posted by: Agent99 on January 22, 2007 08:11 PM
54. Yes, I'd have to say there IS something wrong with wanting kids to "demonstrate a 10th grade level of proficiency in order to qualify for a diploma."
IF (and that is a BIG, BIG IF) WASL actually TESTED 10th grade proficiency in the subject areas, are we saying that 10th grade proficiency is adequate?
What are 11th and 12th grade FOR?
Shall we send the 10th grade WASL passers off to college at that point? And have 11th and 12th grade reserved for WASL remediation?
That would be ridiculous, of course.

Wouldn't it make more sense to dump the WASL, allow our teachers to STOP "teaching to the test," return to EDUCATING (vs training them in the dubious art of WASL taking) our students, and let the students who have taken and passed the required courses (which are determined by local and state boards of education) GRADUATE? If our schools are graduating students not ready to graduate, perhaps the issue we should be dealing with is grade inflation, not high stakes testing.

If NCLB survives, and 'exit exams' are still the new rage of education reform, then why not accept scores from an array of exit exams: SAT, ACT, ITBS, MAP, even the ASSET or COMPASS tests, if there HAS to be another hoop to jump through...

BTW, "diploma" is defined as "a document given by an educational institution conferring a degree on a person or certifying that the person has satisfactorily completed a course of study."

"Completed a course of study," not "passed a test."

Posted by: austinrobi on January 22, 2007 09:56 PM
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