Our children deserve better than the WASL

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 11:23 AM PST



On March 14, Bob Mathieu of Copalis Beach wrote, "In the short time I was able to teach in the classroom, my philosophy was if you studied and made an effort, you passed. If you failed, you failed. Nobody got five chances to pass a test, and nobody got `educational welfare' after that. The answer to passing these tests is to go to school, study and do your homework. It's that simple."

No, Bob, it isn't that simple! The WASL is not just a standardized test. It is a new form of test, requiring both short and long answers. It tests children on what they know and also how they think. Research shows that the WASL is not appropriate to the developmental level of the children it tests.

The WASL is also a high-stakes test. It measures how well a school and its students are performing and uses the scores to make important decisions, such as whether a school receives money or whether a student is allowed to take elective classes, advance to the next grade level, graduate or attend college. The children are pressured to "perform" in order to receive $25,000 (this is what Washington Elementary in Hoquiam and Stevens Elementary in
Aberdeen received for their 4th grade classes "earning excellent scores" in the 2004 WASL testing. Both schools were on the state's "Top 10" list).

The pressure placed on my daughter for both 4th (full WASL test) and 5th grade (science only WASL) was such that she ended up with severe migraines and nausea. This happened only with the WASL tests. My child is not alone. Many other children suffer through this test as well.

The WASL has taken over our schools. Children are not being taught the 3 R's as you would remember them. All students are being cheated of a well-rounded education, because teachers are being forced to "teach to the test" in order to raise test score averages. Programs for highly capable students have been cut as have vocational programs and the arts.

I believe that my kids are not getting an education when the principal and the teachers are more concerned about having the students learn only material that is on an assessment, in order to ensure that the students do "well" enough for the school to "earn" (I call it a bribe) $25,000.

Grants should be based on a school's educational needs, not on how well a student does on an assessment that does nothing except judge a child's imaginative qualities!

Student time is better spent studying course material instead of preparing for a rote test. College teachers are, in fact, sending students back to remedial math in order to re-teach them, because they want the students to just solve the math problems and not to fill up their papers with the baloney that was required to pass the WASL.



Did you know that out of the 25 states that had assessment tests as a graduation requirement, 17 of them dropped it?

It is time for everyone to become better informed about their children's education! For information about our children's math education, go to Where's the Math? at http://www.wheresthemath.com. Also, please go to Washington Mathematics Education Reform Issues (forum) at http://wamath.proboards56.com/.

Finally, for the Real Truth About the WASL, go to www.MothersAgainstWASL.org.

Our children deserve better than the WASL. They deserve a well-rounded education that will help them throughout their lifetimes.

Julie Messerer