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WASL Letter to the Ed

The Seattle Times

Thursday, December 07, 2000, 12:00 a.m. Pacific

Letters to the editor

Blind faith in weak test

Anne Cronin, Kirkland

Editor, The Times:

"The Seattle Times' blind faith in the WASL, even in light of your own
stories reporting on the inadequacy of the test, remains unchanged.

What is new is the first signs of an official anti-WASL stand coming from
educators. After 10 years of unfulfilled promises, teachers may finally be
waking up to the Faustian bargain their union has made for them. Their choice
is to teach kids a curriculum that is broad- based and suffer financial
recrimination, or teach to the test and maybe enjoy a few crumbs of financial

Educators now realize the WASL is a lose-lose proposition. Kids are set up
for failure. Each student's future hangs in the balance on his or her
performance on this one exam. A minute and a half given to evaluate 10 years
of learning by a poorly paid temporary worker in a far away state is a
student's reward for taking the test. The test itself focuses on letter
writing and fuzzy math. It is a wonder any student passes it.

Teachers do not fear the accountability aspects the test's proponents desire.
They simply see the absurdity of the situation. While scores on the SAT and
the other norm-referenced exams in the state are up, only the WASL shows no
overall improvement in its pass rate. The issue should be the lack of
reliability and validity of the WASL, not the performance of teachers. Let's
hope other teachers in the state join the Seattle teachers in denouncing the

Anne Cronin, Kirkland



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