Re: Opting out of WASL, Mr. President
- Subject: Re: Opting out of WASL, Mr. President
- From: Rick Parkany <rparkany@BORG.COM>
- Date: Fri, 22 Mar 2002 15:21:21 GMT
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
Art: if you would have taken the time to read the whole letter, you can see
that the WASL stuff was propedeutic (like that word, Juanita?) toward making
*The Federal Case*: that assessment and reporting @ the Federal level BE
HONEST, unlike the WA experience that she documented... ;-} rap.
I am seeking your assistance to ensure that the testing in Washington
is presented honestly and accurately. It is with great disappointment
I must address this letter to you, but I do not believe the leaders of
Washington State will appropriately address my concerns due to past
experiences. Education reform is necessary, however a false or misleading
representation of improvement does not serve to meet the needs of our
students; it only deceives the public and hurts our children¯our future.
Please inform me in writing of the action that will be taken by the
government. Your service to this country is greatly appreciated.
> Dear Juanita:
> Not a federal matter.
> GW and JA
> >>> Jedoyon@AOL.COM 03/21 3:25 PM >>>
> March 21, 2002
> President George W. Bush
> The White House
> 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
> Washington D.C. 20500
> Honorable John Ashcroft
> United States Attorney General
> Room 4400
> 950 Pennsylvania Ave
> Washington D.C. 20530-0001
> Dear President George W. Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft:
> I am writing this letter to address my concerns regarding the State of
> Washington's academic achievement assessment test. In late 2001, I
> requested to inspect documents relating to the Washington Assessment on
> Student Learning (WASL). I inspected and copied several documents
> associated with the scoring process of the 2001, 4th grade-writing portion
> of the WASL. After reviewing the documents I am very concerned about the
> credibility and accuracy of the scores released to the public by the
> of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Also, as a result of
> findings, I have decided to not allow my ten-year-old son to take the 4th
> grade WASL test.
> My decision came about after much serious thought. It is highly unlikely
> that the scoring process provides a realistic assessment of the students
> Washington State. I am expressing this concern after reading Scoring the
> Writing Assessment of Student Learning, Grade 4 NCS Scoring Center-Mesa,
> Arizona, June 21-29, 2001, Training Post Assessment. The survey provides
> both a supportive and critical analysis of the scoring process; however,
> critical statements are very disturbing and have caused me to question the
> credibility of the WASL scores released thus far. Some of the responses
> made by the scorers that have caused me to question the accuracy of the
> scores are attached.
> It appears that OSPI staff and contractors manipulated the results by
> pressuring the scorers to score 3s, when noting there where too many 2s.
> This type of behavior does not encourage accurate scoring results, and
> evident that the test is subjectively graded with persuasive management
> oversight. Children are not to be used as guinea pigs serving to promote
> political agenda. I believe it is important to test the academic
> achievement of children, but it must be done honestly and accurately. The
> scoring process appears to be set up to deceive the public by producing
> distorted facts based on the subjectivity of the scorers and oversight
> management's preconceived scoring results.
> Aside from the scoring, I also inspected documents that presented the kind
> of pressure placed on the scorers. Apparently, there was an incident with
> scorer who was suspected of illegally taking calibration sets. It was
> in a memo the following:
> "John Anderson and Joyce LaBelle escorted her to her hotel room. She
> the door to her room, and John and Joyce stepped inside the door where
> were able to observe her open her suitcase and take out all of the papers
> they could see. She handed John what turned out to be seven calibration
> sets. During the project she had been given 10 calibrations sets and the
> remaining 3 were recovered at the scoring center. She said she had taken
> the sets to use for training and repeated again that she had thought she
> allowed to keep them. She apologized for what she said was a
> The staffs responsible for the scoring process built a case against the
> scorer based on hearsay and then subjected the scorer to questioning,
> escorted search of private property and later sent her a letter from an
> attorney. Dr. Bergeson, state superintendent, was informed of the
> per telephone and it is not noted that she objected to the questioning and
> escorted search of private property. I do not believe that anyone in the
> United States of America should be subjected to the kind of treatment
> described in the memorandum dated June 29, 2001. I can only imagine the
> humiliation felt by the individual treated in the manner described. While
> respect the need to keep testing documents confidential, I do not believe
> is right to violate an individual's right to privacy and legal
> representation when being questioned for committing an illegal act.
> Provided with this letter are the documents associated to the incident
> I am seeking your assistance to ensure that the testing in Washington
> is presented honestly and accurately. It is with great disappointment
> I must address this letter to you, but I do not believe the leaders of
> Washington State will appropriately address my concerns due to past
> experiences. Education reform is necessary, however a false or misleading
> representation of improvement does not serve to meet the needs of our
> students; it only deceives the public and hurts our children¯our future.
> Please inform me in writing of the action that will be taken by the
> government. Your service to this country is greatly appreciated.
> Nancy Vernon
> cc: Senator Patty Murray
> Senator Maria Cantwell
> Congressman Adam Smith
> Selected State Senators
> Dr. Terry Bergeson
> Attorney General Gregoire
> Governor Locke
> Brian Sonntag, State Auditor
> Responses Causing Concern
> How will this experience impact your classroom instruction?
> I will remember how OSPI [Office of the Superintendent of Public
> Instruction] asked us to score dishonestly & I will use it as an example
> when I teach values in my classroom.
> My teaching will not be affected-except*I would like to use these anchors
> and calibration papers in my room. My standards are higher; I'll stick
> I am still interested on hearing how a very poorly written paper that has
> one casual statement would score higher than an organized list of reasons
> that use fantastic word choice, voice, similes, metaphors, and complex
> sentence structure.
> I'll still keep my standards higher than the states.
> What have you learned from this experience?
> I have learned that how the WASL is ACTUALLY scored is DRAMATICALLY
> different from what I thought; based on what I was told. I understand the
> and reasoning behind the way the test is scored, but I just have this
> feeling we are "dumbing down" the WASL. I was asked to make many
> inferences-more often; assumptions-on what a student was thinking when
> he/she took the test. I felt like a democrat counting "CHADS"! When I
> to score the tests based on the training given my validity stats were very
> high (85%-95%). When admonished that I was not scoring enough 3's-my
> validity stats went way down (as low as 57%!) This concerns me greatly.
> Nevertheless this has been a terrific growth experience that I believe as
> many WA teachers as possible should have.
> I learned that scoring writing is extremely subjective. I "get" the whole
> process, my validity, my rate, my scores are accurate, but* it's still
> vague just how to score. I really don't have confidence in the process.
> Yeah, overall we all score 70% of the papers with 70% accuracy, but what
> about those kids in the 30% group-
> oh well? I'm just very uncomfortable about the scoring process. When I
> my own students' scores back, I'll be a bit skeptical.
> As a scorer, to be focused on the kid-forget about the statistics, etc.,
> just score a paper by keeping that child in mind. I was too stressed
> worrying about whether I'd be sent back to WA for not meeting the 70% or
> going fast enough, or about making a mistake.
> Standards are much lower than I thought they were. Prompts don't mean
> What I will bring back with me is the ability to teach writing to my
> students in a more focused practice. The most I have learned is in this
> area. The process of actual scoring in the computers, with the help of
> supervisors and NCS employees, is very vague. There seems to be so many
> secrets (for lack of a better word).
> I learned that we are not supposed to teach to the WASL even though we
> to the EALR's which directly teaches to the WASL. I learned how to raise
> scores so much that teachers will be astounded at how the worst writing is
> scored a 3. I learned how to dumb down tests. I learned how to ignore the
> spelling of community even though the word is in the prompt.
> If we were to offer this opportunity again, how could it be improved?
> There was too much of a push to get our scores to match the distribution
> rate. I was never told anything about my accuracy rate-just my
> rate and how it compared to the pods. It was strongly suggested that I
> needed to do whatever necessary to get my score distribution to match my
> pods. I felt pressure to give a 3 score, even when it should be a 2.
> Also there is a feeling of secrecy about the whole process that takes away
> from the validation of the scores-fix this!
> First of all, I am a little concerned with some feedback coming from NCS
> comparing certain scorer's percentage to that of the whole room. When I
> told that I had a high percentage of 2's compared to the room, on the
> two days it really made me question and doubt my ability to score. I know
> now that my %'s shouldn't be compared until I had a much larger sample
> I also felt that there tends to be a lot of secrecy taking place and I
> understand the security factor, however we are professionals and if we are
> trusted w/educating children, we should be trusted to be confidential.
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