This was written by a student in Arlington HS. The article was published in the student newspaper.

 

WASL Up With That?

What is going to happen when 58% of the Senior class of 2008 aren’t allowed to graduate because of the WASL?


The WASL (Washington Assessment of Student Learning) is what they call a high-stakes test, which means it measures how well the students are doing at specific schools and uses the scores to decide whether a school receives money or whether a student can move onto the next grade level, take electives, graduate or even go to college. Last year 58% of all 10th graders who took the WASL failed to meet the standard on at least one section of the test. Scores for students
in other grades were equally grim for most districts. (www.mothersagainstwasl.com) Your diploma and your chances of getting into college are hanging in the balance because of one test!
The most important problem with this test is the hours spent teaching how to pass one test. We have WASL Math, WASL English, and soon we will have WASL Science. Vocational programs and art programs have been cut to accommodate these WASL classes. Arlington School Districts job posting states The classroom teacher will teach to the WASL. Curriculums are being designed to focus mainly around this test. We aren’t getting the advantage of having teachers who are allowed to do what they’ve had a passion to do, which is teach what they know. Teachers are here to help enlighten students, to help build us into somewhat upstanding, well rounded citizens through their teachings. That is why they wanted to become teachers. It’s becoming a very hum drum job for them as well as for students preparing for this test.

 
The WASL costs about $18 per section, per student. The four section WASL costs about $72 per student. It has recently been calculated that the cost to the state and districts is about $60 million a year. While we are getting school budget cutback after cutback because citizens of
Washington state are spending their tax dollars on questions for a test. Construction on our school isn’t finished and all of this money is being spent on the WASL where it could be spent finishing the Performing Arts Center.


The writing section of the WASL is graded on the 6-trait writing of a 5 paragraph essay. This forces students to no longer have their own expression through their writing. How many good books are written this way? Writing is an art. As an art, writing needs freedom and diversity. This test is trying to take something that is not uniform at all, art, and turn it into something uniform.

If worrying about not receiving your diploma isn’t enough, a bill has been and is currently being brought up basically saying you can’t have your driver’s license if you can’t pass the WASL. You already have to pass drivers education, the written test, and the driving test. Is the WASL going to show that you are responsible enough to have a license better than the other requirements already present?


Your parents can send a letter with you to school to opt out of taking the WASL your Sophomore year. However the class of 2008 needs to pass the WASL in order to graduate, so if you’re a sophomore now you will need to take the test at another time. With hard work, I believe by the time you are seniors this wont be a requirement anymore.


The way to stop this is to speak out. Write Editorials to the local papers. You can join Stop the WASL (http://groups.myspace.com/STOPTHEWASL ) where you can learn more and
discuss the goings on are with this test.

 

1