In the Spokesman Review (Spokane)
- Subject: In the Spokesman Review (Spokane)
- From: Juanita Doyon <Jedoyon@AOL.COM>
- Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 16:20:23 EST
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
Didn't find the original column, by Matt McFarland, but no time to look right
now. I'll look for his address later and mail him some buttons. Anybody
wants it to offer support let me know. Then you can forward his address to
the list as fair game! (that's a joke)
The Spokesman-Review.com - WASL issue needs clarifying</A>
WASL issue needs clarifying
Cheney High School teacher Matt McFarland raised some thoughtful concerns in
his guest column on the Washington State Assessment of Student Learning
(WASL). However, there were some misconceptions that should be corrected.
McFarland states that all students must now take the WASL, "special ed
through honors." This isn't true for special education students, some of whom
have been exempted. Although the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
mandates that special education students be assessed in the same broad
content areas measured by the WASL, it doesn't require us to always use the
WASL to do so. We are working with an expert panel of educators, parents and
advocates to develop alternative assessment approaches for special education
students. School districts will decide which approach is most appropriate for
McFarland suggests use of the WASL will force students into a career track.
By his reasoning, students who don't pass the WASL _ a requirement for high
school graduation beginning in 2008 _ will be channeled into vocational
careers rather than college studies. Actually, the WASL measures proficiency
in the fundamental skills students acquire throughout K-12 schooling _ skills
that will prepare them for future success no matter what their chosen field.
If we're not teaching our kids these critical basics, we're failing them.
The talents and interests of individual students vary widely. But does that
mean we should abandon our expectation that all students can achieve higher
I don't think that's what parents, citizens and educators want for our
Dr. Terry Bergeson
Terry Bergeson's defense of the WASL is understandable, as she has been at
the forefront of the statewide WASL implementation plan from its inception.
Her denial of the concerns brought up by Matt McFarland are misleading at
best and dishonest at worst.
As the FAIRTEST (a national organization for the fair and open use of
testing) coordinator for Washington State, I have talked with numerous
parents of children with special needs, who have been told by their schools
that their children must take the WASL. This is a cruel practice. OSPI's
study of the test and "adjustments" are too little too late.
Virtually every 4th, 7th and 10th grader in the state has been subjected to a
flawed, wasteful, lofty trial of WASL over the past 3 years. Parents don't
have to take it anymore. Until WASL is proven valid and constructive, beyond
a doubt, I encourage every parent to write their district and school
officials and ask that their child not be given the WASL in any form. Public
school parents have the right to opt their children out of WASL testing,
without fear of repercussion.
Mr. McFarland's statement that WASL will lead to career tracking, I suspect
is a natural assumption he, like many others, have reached in studying the
undercurrent of programs such as School to Work and Goals 2000. Terry
Bergeson's continual referral to the 21st century as some ominous new era of
doom, where kids need higher levels of learning than ever before, would tend
to perpetuate these assumptions.
This is the 21st century folks. Improved communication and less
indoctrination from above would make it a much friendlier place for kids,
parents and teachers.
Wa State Fairtest Coordinator
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