Saturday, March 15, 2008

WASL may keep [many] from diplomas.

Diplomas may be on the line this week for high-school seniors who are otherwise on track to graduate but still need to pass a chunk of the state's high-stakes assessment test.

This week, the reading and writing portions of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) are being administered — it is the first year that a student must pass these portions in order to graduate, or show they have the required skills through approved alternatives.

But administrators and teachers say the number of seniors whose graduation status is at stake due to the WASL pales in comparison to the hundreds of seniors who are failing to meet other requirements.

Out of 853 seniors in Marysville School District, the upcoming WASL could be a potential graduation barrier for only 34 seniors, said Ray Houser, the district's executive director of teaching and learning.

Credit deficiency
He said that about 10 times that many were not on track to graduate on time due to lack of credits. "It's not these other factors that are impeding students from graduating — it's the low credits," he said. "We realize that it's not necessarily the assessment or the state requirements, but the inability to successfully navigate the classes," he said.

Marysville Superintendent Larry Nyland agreed, saying, "The WASL alone is not looming as quite as big as a barrier as we had once feared." "Students who are in school passing required courses, for the large majority, are getting over the WASL mark," Nyland said.

In the Edmonds School District, the most recent statistics show there are 1,563 students in the class of 2008. Of those, 47 have a sufficient number of credits to graduate but have not met the state standard in reading and/or writing (of those, more than half are taking the test for the first time). Alternatively, there are more than 400 students not considered on track to graduate because of credit requirements.

Monroe Public Schools said 24 seniors of 665 are on track to graduate with credits but have not yet passed the reading section of the WASL, while 22 still need to pass the writing section — and some of those may not have attempted the test before.

In Lake Stevens, where there are 476 in the class of 2008, only 18 still must pass the reading portion and nine the writing section.

In the Lakewood School District, where the total number of seniors at Lakewood High School is 147 — only two must complete the required portions of the WASL to graduate this spring, and both are transfer students from out of state who could qualify for a waiver. Those who are not on track to graduate typically struggle in math, said Joyce Scott, student-success coordinator for Lakewood. Scott said historically about 10 percent of the class does not graduate due to credit deficiency.

Some districts say a substantial number who still need to pass the reading and writing portions are enrolled in English Language Learners (ELL) services or special-education programs.

In Everett Public Schools, the number of seniors on track to graduate in credits but who need to pass the upcoming WASL sections is 54 for reading and 62 for writing out of 1,130 in the class of 2008. About half students are in special-education or ELL programs.

Math comes later
About 30 special-education students and 47 ELL students are among the 169 in the Mukilteo School District's class of 2008 who still need to pass reading, writing or both sections of the WASL. Seniors who have already passed the WASL, like Everett High School student Ray Naab, say it's a relief to have the requirement completed.

"I'm happy that it's out of the way," Naab said. "It's just one less thing I have to worry about." For those who fail to pass the reading or writing sections, the test will be offered again in August. Students have five state-paid tries to pass each subject. The math portion of the WASL, which is not a graduation requirement for this year's seniors, will be given in April.

Christina Siderius


Anonymous said...

I just looked at one of my class lists for 3rd trimester. Out of the 32 middle school students, eleven of them received 3 or more F's on their 2nd trimester report card. Yikes!! Wish me luck! (Oh, by the way, when class size reaches 32 students I can have one hour of educational assistant time, or $130 in classload relief. I can tell you now that there's no educ asst available, so I will get $130. How exactly is $130 supposed to help me or the students?

Anonymous said...

WASL? A big waste of Tax payers money. People to put the test in a box. People to deliver it. People to take it out of the box and give it to the kids. Put it back in the box. People to pick it up. People to score it. People to read the scores back to the people.
The Rental of all those tables and chairs, just clap your hands for all that hard work.
Just think if we just but all that money and time into our kids.

Anonymous said...

WASL is not the only big waste of taxpayers money. Try $65,000.00 dollars to stare at a computer screen for 6.5 hours a day, maybe 4days a week. With or without porn! Man that's tough.

Anonymous said...

OH! THAT'S where Houser ended up. The apparent roadblock to rigorous curriculum at MMS is now the head of teaching and learning in Marysville? Figures.