PRESS RELEASE—For release at 12:00 p.m., April 13, 2006.

 

OSPI Concedes to Parent Empowerment Network Request. WASL-attached

Student Survey Canceled.

 

Contact:   Juanita Doyon, Director, Parent Empowerment Network, Spanaway, 253/973-1593

               Shelley Anderson, Executive Board Member, Spokane, 509/326-9295
               Lisa Sampson, Executive Board Member, Vancouver, 360/608-4896

               Rachel DeBellis, Executive Board Member, Marysville, 360-708-9323

 

With full-scale WASL testing set to begin Monday, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has finally relinquished plans to administer a student survey which is attached to the WASL tests of hundreds of thousands of students in grades 3-8 and 10. OSPI plans to send a bulletin to the state’s 296 school districts, before Monday, canceling the survey.

 

“This is a great triumph for children and parents,” said Juanita Doyon, Director of Parent Empowerment Network. “Once again, OSPI had failed to follow well-defined laws pertaining to parental rights. Fortunately, thanks to alert parents in our organization, no harm will be done to students. Unfortunately, vital educational resources have been wrongfully expended on WASL-related waste due to incompetence on the part of OSPI. Pearson, of recent misgraded SAT fame, is not off the hook either, since they attached the survey to the test. If this survey had been administered, federal law would have been broken!”

 

[In May 2005, parents, some of them PEN members, forced OSPI to recognize the federal law that gives parents the right to view their children’s WASL tests. OSPI had ignored this law for eight years.]

 

At the insistence of Parent Empowerment Network, the student survey, which asked for student identifiable, family invasive information, will not be administered. Parent Empowerment Network continues to call for the complete removal of the survey from WASL test booklets.

 

Upon discovery that there would be a survey attached to this year’s WASL tests, PEN members questioned OSPI as to the survey contents. Survey questions were found to be invasive of family privacy and harmful to the educational well-being of children.

 

After consulting with Dr. Donald Orlich and with Spokane Attorney Jeffry Finer, PEN Director, Juanita Doyon, sent the following letter to the state superintendent, on March 24. Jeffry Finer also informed OSPI that the survey was out of compliance with federal statutes related to survey of human subjects. No response was received from OSPI, until Mrs. Doyon spoke several times with Assistant Attorney General David Stolier. After a final, after-hour negotiation call from Mr. Stolier on Tuesday, April 11, PEN was prepared to seek legal action to stop the survey.  Mrs. Doyon received an email from Joe Willhoft, Assistant Superintendent, Assessment and Research, on Wednesday, April 12, stating that, “OSPI has decided to cancel the student survey portion of this year’s WASL.”

 

PEN will hold a press conference in Sylvester Park, across from OSPI, at noon, Thursday.

 

 

March 24, 2006

 

Dr. Teresa Bergeson

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

Old Capitol Building

Olympia, WA  98504-7200

 

Dear Dr. Bergeson;

 

Two weeks ago, one of our members brought to my attention a set of survey questions that is to be attached to this year’s WASL tests. Parent Empowerment Network board members and I have examined all questions for all grade levels and found them to be inappropriate, invasive, and harmful, so much so, that we are calling on you to remove the survey from the test and withdraw any plans of administering these questions to students.

 

All questions on the survey breach the rights of both students and parents in the area of confidentiality. They also ignore the rights of parents to guide their children in important matters, including future plans for education. Particularly alarming is the question which asks sixth graders whether they plan to complete high school. In essence, OSPI is asking 11-year-olds to predict their own academic failure!

 

Asking students to respond to personal questions requires prior written consent from the parent or guardian. We have reviewed the statement to parents regarding the student survey included in the 2006 “Aiming High” booklet. Parents have not necessarily received this latest version of “Aiming High.” In fact our members inform us that they have received the 2005 version. Regardless, the notification did not include the specific questions that are on the survey, nor did it provide parents with a consent form.

 

Should you and/or your staff refuse to prevent the distribution and administration of this survey, Parent Empowerment Network will initiate legal action, calling for an injunction against your agency’s administration of the survey and the WASL to which it is attached.

 

On behalf of PEN, I am demanding that you respond to our petition by Monday, April 3, 2006. In the meantime, PEN will prepare the necessary legal papers. In the event that you ignore our request, PEN will proceed with the filing for injunction.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Juanita Doyon, Director

Parent Empowerment Network

 

cc Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Governor Christine Gregoire,

    Attorney General Rob McKenna

 

 

 

 

 

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