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By Andrew Sirocchi, Herald staff writer
Thousands of Tri-City students sharpened No. 2 pencils and began taking Washington Assessment of Student Learning exams Monday, kicking off a three-week process that for many students -- and schools -- will be an ordeal.
With the expansion of the WASL this year and the option of taking voluntary pilot exams for third-, fifth-, sixth- and eighth-graders, some schools logged a three-fold increase in the number of tests being administered.
the exception of ninth-graders, who are taking the
Jones, principal at
"This year, everybody is taking the WASL, and that's about 900 kids. So that's just a little bit too much to do," Jones said, referring to giving them all care packages and other stress-relief efforts. "Plus, there's so much to organize that it's difficult to do anything extra but give the test."
"The kids, I think, were less stressed than we were," she said. "When they entered the school this morning, we greeted them as usual and they were like, 'We're ready, we're ready for the WASL.' "
Robert Frost, which has 90 fourth-graders and 90 fifth-graders taking exams, offered stress relief for teachers and students. The school continued a program to give students care packages, which include pencils, bookmarks, motivational stickers, granola bars and candy to keep them focused.
In addition, school administrators had breakfast and lunch served for teachers overseeing the testing.
"The pressure is coming from the state level, so just that in itself brings stress," Cissne said. She said students will again be offered snacks this year for the duration of the exams.
year's official start to the WASL tests started with a protest in
"We just want parents to be aware they can opt their children out, and we want teachers to know we're not fighting against them," said Juanita Doyon, the organization's director and a former candidate for state superintendent. "We're just fighting against this state test."