Flawed test shouldn’t be allowed to label children

Last updated:
December 19th, 2005 02:40 AM (PST)

Re: “Anecdotes aside, state should stay behind WASL” (Peter Callaghan column, 12-15).

True WASL believers like Callaghan love to push the propaganda of the state superintendent. Fortunately, my public school diploma of 1978 means that I recognize propaganda when I read it and understand the difference between a test and the standards it purports to measure.

Those of us fighting WASL believe in high standards for schools and high expectations for students. We believe so strongly in these things that we refuse to let a flawed test label our students and narrow their education.

Allow me an “anecdote.” A few weeks ago, Parent Empowerment Network members discovered that a WASL practice test posted on the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction Web site contained serious errors in 7 out of 42 problems. We have since learned that this practice test was developed by Dr. Catherine Taylor, the same Dr. Catherine Taylor who has done validity studies under contract with OSPI and found WASL to be valid.

Is this an example of state-level “standards”?

Stories of biographical incidents – i.e., anecdotes – are the stuff life is made of. When we reduce our children to data and test scores, we dehumanize education and create a system of educational triage. If our children don’t pass the WASL, they are marked for life. Administering the same flawed test over and over again and expecting different results is not only still a single, high-stakes test, it is insanity.

Originally published: December 19th, 2005 02:30 AM (PST)