- Subject: ARRRGH!!!!!
- From: Juanita Doyon <Jedoyon@AOL.COM>
- Date: Tue, 26 Mar 2002 19:06:55 EST
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
You all know that I am the most reasonable person in the world-- LOL--- but
this just makes me want to PUKE!
I finally heard back from the assessment guy from a district up north, who
questioned me last week about what I don't like about the WASL. I'll include
my answer that he was responding to, so you may see it was some of my more
thoughtful thoughts. I guess we just wipe our feet and move on....
Here are his comments on my suggestions for anti-WASL activities and my "Why
We Won't WASL essay:
I read the material below. It does not tell concerns about the WASL.
Specifically, what is wrong with the WASL for your child? Below it talks
about students being paper and penciled a lot and you list statements about
bureaucracy, but you do not talk specifically about the WASL. Frankly, the
statements below sound a bit nutty. What exactly is your point about the
and here are his comments on what follows.
You are a very confused person. I'm sorry for you.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jedoyon@aol.com [mailto:Jedoyon@aol.com
> Sent: Tuesday, March 19, 2002 7:58 PM
> Subject: Re: Mothers Against WASL Update
> In a message dated 3/19/02 5:47:30 PM Pacific Standard Time,
> ------edu writes:
> >> Actually, I'm not getting a clear picture of what your specific
>> frustrations are with the WASL.
> WASL is an expensive, troubled, (planned to be) high stakes test. WASL
> scores tell us very little about the quality of the education our children
> are receiving in our schools. The bar has been raised too high
> (particularly in math for 4th and 7th graders). On the other hand, we are
> now lowering the bar, which doesn't look good either. I simply can't
> believe that our state education officials have so little knowledge of
> child development that they came up with a test that was so far off. We
> have been told all along that the WASL is appropriate and valid. When do
> we begin to believe it. Now? No, really, now? Patrick Patrick, the
> ex-chair of the A+ commission kept telling me it takes 5 years to prove any
> test valid. Well, if we change the test every year, it takes 5 more years,
> doesn't it?
> From personal experience: My twins took the 4th grade WASL. The first I
> heard of the WASL, their teacher told me my daughter was crying over a WASL
> prompt in 3rd grade. Fourth graders are all over the developmental scale--
> I see it as the junior high of elementary school. Walk into a fourth grade
> classroom and it's a messy, lively place. Now, subject these kids to a test
> that is given in 90 minute (or was it more?) blocks and tests upper level
> thinking skills that many are not ready to deal with.
> My boy twin, Samuel, is a natural upper level thinker (takes after his
> dad). He also has allergies and asthma and has always missed a good amount
> of school because of his health. In 4th grade he was absent 63 days. (The
> next year he attended 63 days with pneumonia thrown into the mix.) His
> twin sister Carmen is a more average learner, but right on grade level in
> most subjects. She is a harder worker and better student than Sam and
> rarely misses a day of school. Their WASL scores reflected their learning
> styles, natural abilities and IQ. Samuel, the poor student with the sharp
> as a tack thinking style passed all but the listening section (the one most
> kids pass, but then I could have guessed that!). Carmen passed the
> listening and writing, but failed to meet the standard on math and reading.
> My children have every support possible, two parent home, mother at home
> and volunteering at school, family that values learning and reads
> together-- extended family next door. I had read to them constantly from
> the time they were 3 months old, wanting twins who were calm and willing to
> listen and learn. The reading section on the 4th grade math WASL at that
> time was 6th grade. Changes have been made, but not enough.
> Schools with high WASL scores are those where the socioeconomic picture is
> good. Forth grade WASL is an IQ test. Seventh is somewhat the same. The
> type of test that WASL is should be available for local school districts to
> use. We were doing writing assessments in my district before WASL. There
> were some good things about this.
> My son who was in 10th grade that same year barely passed all 4 WASL
> sections. He attended running start classes the next year and was in top
> math classes. The 10th grade WASL is closer to grade level, but should
> never be a high stakes graduation requirement. We have school boards and
> local administration to set graduation requirements. We have a state board
> to oversee this process and a state OSPI to work as a checks and balance
> system, teamed with our legislative education committees. HS graduation is
> about 13 years of schooling success, not about one test score. A high
> school diploma "means" that a student has successfully completed 13 years
> of education and passed the required classes. The quality of teachers and
> grades can vary. Standards of communication between school and home are a
> necessity. There are many ways to monitor school quality. Test scores
> should be a dip stick, not the whole darn electronic engine diagnostic
> scanner. (I put that one in an article I wrote for an education newspaper
> today-- not bad, eh?)
> What pain and suffering are you referring to that you have seen in teachers
> >> students?
> We tell 80% of our 4th, 7th and 10th graders that they are substandard on
> at least one section of WASL each year. Children are not data, they are
> flesh and bones. We build up this test as a big important thing. Then we
> tell thousands of children that they failed it. Then we make a big deal
> about those who do pass, as if they have done something better than those
> who didn't. It's out of proportion. Have you ever visited the WASSIE the
> WHALE site? www.wassiethewhale.com This is a story and stuffed animal
> that the principal of my kids' elementary school came up with to ease the
> anxiety of children taking the WASL. It reminds me of the Teddy Bear
> Patrol. But why should our schools be putting children in situations that
> cause so much anxiety that they need a stuffed toy to comfort them? The
> principal hawks the things over the intercom during morning announcements,
> but that's another story.
> Special needs children were (for the most part) tested with the same test
> with no accommodations for the first couple years of WASL administration.
> This is loony! The timing of the tests alone is ridiculous for children
> with physical or emotional special needs. Yet, if we leave these children
> out of the testing, they are apt to be ignored in the accountability
> picture. Emphasis on WASL leaves us with a no win situation here.
> WASL disrupts 3 weeks of the school year. High schools change their entire
> schedules for WASL testing. Juniors and seniors are shuffled around to
> accommodate the testing of sophomores. I met a girl in a store once who
> told me she just about didn't graduate because of WASL. Seems she was
> having to attend a 3 hour block of PE during WASL testing and she skipped
> the class and almost didn't pass, when she was a senior. The little things
> that most people don't even think about add up. This is a silly example, I
> realize, but it is interesting.
> What is the connection between the WASL and loss of local control?
> >> Bush just signed into law a requirement for tests in every state that
>> measure student progress toward state standards. That sounds like local
>> control to me. At least the WASL is measuring student achievement against
>> the state curricula (EALR's), whereas the tests normally administrated in
>> schools do not measure local curricula.
> Hmmm... there's that "state curricula" term again. Are you sure you're
> not an assessment and curriculum specialist? (hah! you are, and I didn't
> even look at the district website before I guessed! I've been at this way
> too long!) The EALRs make great goals for our schools and our kids, but I
> wouldn't want to live there. Personally, I hope not to accomplish all of
> the essential learnings until just before I die. I hardly think we can
> expect 17 year olds to master all of them. The detail that the state has
> gone too is commendable, but it is also micromanagement at its controlling
> best-- or worst.
> As for the "teachers developed the EALRs" line. I attended a weekend
> meeting of highly capable staff -- the only just-a-parent in a retreat
> house of upper level thinking teachers-- I learned a lot. Brian Benzel
> gave a talk on the last day. He made some sense back then. Anyway, I saw
> how "teachers developed the EALRs." The scoffing was quite abundant. I
> wrote new words for "I'm reviewing the situation" for our group's
> presentation. We think they better think it out again.......
> I suppose if one embraces the "algebra and geometry for all" mindset, then
> anything goes as requirements. I would hate to deny diplomas based on the
> mastery of all EALRS. I hear Terry Bergeson was not good at geometry
> herself. From what I've seen of the math that has been brought in to align
> with WASL and EALRs, we were better off before the reformation. We're
> using California's outlawed math texts, from what I hear. I'm not a back
> to basics or die person, but I believe upper level thinking skills must be
> taught with quality curriculum and ample resources and teaching staff.
> Parents must also understand their kids' math homework at least through 3rd
> Math-in-a-round is an interesting experiment, but most parents I know don't
> support it.
> I have experienced site councils as self-study/improvement agents with
> funds to control. Then I have experienced state-mandated improvement goals
> of improved WASL math and reading scores with no funds to control.
> There's the loss of local control and individualized improvement plans.
> Site councils themselves were set up for failure with a lack of state
> direction for membership. Now, the legislation has run out, so site
> councils aren't even a required entity. I have a site council rubric I made
> up, if you'd like to see that. I also have community involvement rubrics
> on my website. I like rubrics ;-)
> Seems like the WASL is more local control than the ITBS or other nationally
> >> normed tests.
> Local control comes from districts having the ability to select appropriate
> assessment tools for their own populations. Small districts in Eastern WA,
> with large percentages of ESL children should be allowed to work with their
> students on an appropriate level and with appropriate tools. Children come
> to school with different needs and abilities. This doesn't mean they are
> less able to learn. This means that we have to meet them where they are and
> bring them up to their own potential. If a child hasn't mastered basic
> math, it does no good to test them with raise the bar WASL math. Children
> may not be at or above grade level in math and reading, but they aren't
> stupid or without feelings. Sitting in front of a test you don't
> understand, even if you have all the untimed time in the world, is
> frustrating and degrading.
> I have ideas about how we could simplify our testing schemes to meet
> national legislation and do a better job of teaching and providing for
> schools and kids. I wrote it out when one of the assessment specialist
> from another district asked what I would do. I'll send it, if you're
> interested. It's one of those, "if I were state superintendent" lists I
> like to write every now and then, just to keep myself on track for the 2004
> I attended the Improving America's Schools conferences in Reno and San
> Antonio, where the ESEA legislation was presented. Very political-- but
> you knew that. Child centered teaching is a myth, according to the feds.
> If we can get past the condescentions unlimited of the legislation and
> those who know so much better how our teachers should teach, and ask
> teachers what they need, I'll bet they can tell us.
> I'll be bold and say that no standardized test can tell us things we don't
> already know. I'll bet Terry Bergeson knew where the needs were before the
> first WASL was administered. I'll bet any PTA president could tell her
> just what their school needs-- or any principal could tell her, if she
> would listen. Instead we get a 62 million dollar Riverside contract and
> teacher summer camps to Arizona to learn how to score student writing. If
> in doubt, round up!
> I am a parent of a student who graduated from Juanita high school last year
> and a
> >> student who graduated from WSU last spring as well.
> Still not sure how you got my email address.
> A couple months ago, the Academic Achievement and Accountability Commission
> sent out an email to all of those on their list. Apparently, you have
> given them your email at some point or maybe you assessment guys just get
> added automatically, so they can keep you up on A+ schedules. The
> recipients were not blind copied, so all the emails were displayed.
> Assuming that most who are aware of the A+ commission would have some
> interest in WASL and perhaps want to know what was being done by those of
> us fighting it, I sent my update to the list. I have an open attitude
> about all those involved with public education and children. And I believe
> rational communication is the best way to figure out what is best for kids
> and families and communities.
> Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts. I would really like to
> know what you think of it all. I can take it. And I promise not to quote
> you in my book, unless I ask first ;-)
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