Published: Tuesday, December 13, 2005 IN The Everett Herald, reprint permission given by Berta Phillips

Good students will be denied diplomas

Everyone is talking about the WASL and for good reason; after all, those students in the graduating class of 2008 are now sophomores. It's show time! When discussing the requirement that students must pass the WASL in order to graduate our state's superintendent of public instruction, Dr. Terry Bergeson, has said, "It's not about denying students a diploma, it's about asking them to truly earn a diploma and giving them more support to do it." She holds the WASL in high esteem, yet many of her colleagues and other professionals regard it as a flawed test and an inaccurate measure of student achievement. Why is that?

I am not an expert; I'm simply a mom. Then again, perhaps that makes me an expert of sorts. You see, my intelligent and articulate son, who has been reading at the college level for years failed the reading portion of his 10th grade WASL. He also failed the math section, yet did well in his high school math classes.

He graduated this past June, yet according to Dr. Bergeson's measure, he did not truly earn his diploma. His situation is not unique. There are many students who have mastered the required curriculum, perhaps even exceeding the requirements, yet who perform poorly on the WASL.

Starting with the graduating class of 2008, these bright and capable students will be denied the diploma they have truly earned and refused the right to graduate with their peers. Perhaps it takes a mom to see how wrong that is.

Berta Phillips