Bring on the WASL
- Subject: Bring on the WASL
- From: Juanita Doyon <Jedoyon@AOL.COM>
- Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2002 01:17:18 EST
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
South Sound Saturday, February 2, 2002
Bring on the WASL, state legislators say Lawmakers back initiative to post
their test scores PATRICK CONDON, THE OLYMPIAN OLYMPIA -- Take your seats,
legislators. Sharpen your No. 2 pencils. And be prepared to explain exactly
how you solved that math problem. These instructions are familiar to anyone
who's ever taken the controversial Washington Assessment of Student Learning.
So controversial, in fact, that one group thinks legislators and other
candidates for office should have to take the 10th-grade version of the test.
Under Initiative 780, filed recently with the state, candidates' test scores
would be published in voters' pamphlets. "Well, bring it on," Sen. Pam Roach,
R-Auburn, said Friday. "I think I'd do fine. I didn't learn the new math -- I
learned to do math." Starting in 2008, all high school students in Washington
will have to have passed the 10th-grade WASL before they can graduate.
Critics of the test say that its standardized nature does not fit the wide
diversity and abilities of students statewide. "The idea is to question
whether all students should have to pass the same test to graduate," David
Marshak, a Seattle University education professor who sponsored the
initiative, has said. The goal is not to embarrass politicians, Marshak said,
but to show that many successful adults wouldn't be able to pass the test, as
many high school students presumably won't be able to. Some legislators
wouldn't quarrel with the basic logic. "There's folks everywhere who wouldn't
be able to pass the WASL," said Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish. "Some of them
are legislators. I was a C student in high school, and now I'm a legislator.
We're representative in the sense that we have people of all abilities." Rep.
Kathy Haigh, D-Shelton, has taken portions of the WASL test. She did well on
the reading and vocabulary portions, but not so hot on the mathematics. "I
found it helped to memorize my multiplication tables," Haigh said. "I still
have trouble with those." Sen. Harold Hochstatter, R-Moses Lake, is one of
the WASL's harshest critics in the Legislature. "It's a piece of crap," he
said, and he's all for making politicians take the test. "Put it out there.
Show what a sham it is," Hochstatter said. The initiative backers have until
July to gather 200,000 signatures if they want the measure to appear on the
November ballot. Haigh said she figures the effort is largely symbolic. While
she understands concerns with the WASL, Haigh said, she hopes people will
understand the test is still being fine-tuned. "I invite all the criticism in
the world," Haigh said. "All I ask is people get genuinely involved in making
it a better test -- don't just stand on the sidelines and criticize it."
Patrick Condon covers state government for The Olympian. He can be reached at
360-753-1688 or at condonpatrick@ hotmail.com.
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