Letters to the editor


WASL test answers provide little proof of actual learning

Editor, The Times:

We must provide standards-based education for all students, and high
goals to ensure every student in Washington receives quality
education and earns a meaningful high-school diploma. Fittingly, a
coalition of business/education groups agrees ["Keep WASL
requirement, coalition says," Times, Local News, Jan. 19].

Nonetheless, they assume the way to accomplish this is by requiring
students to pass the 10th-grade WASLs to graduate. But, I want proof.
Where is the evidence? We must utilize fair, accurate "measurements"
of student achievement if we expect to reach this common goal.

Numerous errors have been discovered in both WASL development and
scoring, along with management inconsistencies. Tests have been
misplaced, lost by Pearson Education Measurement (testing company),
the state and schools. Similarly, the Office of Superintendent of
Public Instruction (OSPI) continues poor practices regarding viewing
and amending records.

Now, after finally seeing it, I am even more convinced WASL permits
disputable scoring, clearly discriminates; measures something other
than student knowledge. Perhaps Shirley McCune, an OSPI executive,
explains it best in her "new-age" book "The Light Shall Set You
Free": "The education revolution... in curriculum is that we no
longer see the primary outcome of education as the teaching of facts
and information... we see it as a total transformation of society."

"This" is education reform?

— Rebecca Venable, Cheney

Extraneous credit

Setting the bar high is not a problem nor is the test too rigorous.
The test itself is flawed! Answers to many of the questions are
subjective. Students reading at college level are failing the reading
WASL, while some reading below their grade level are passing it.
Students in honors English are not passing the writing WASL and
students passing the math WASL are struggling in math at college
because they don't have proper math skills.

My daughter, who gets A's in science, failed the science WASL by one
point. I sent a request to OSPI to view her test, and, when I
reviewed it, I found grading errors. I pointed out the errors to the
person assigned to watch over me while I viewed the test and was told
it really didn't matter. It will only count in 10th grade. What if it
had been 10th grade? Summer school, more WASL classes or possibly no

It is time to re-evaluate the WASL, particularly its use as a
graduation requirement.

— Diane Pixlee, Ephrata

Tomorrow's history final

Five months from, now the sound-bite sloganeering will be over.
Political posturing will take a back seat to emergency damage
control. In just five months, no one will use the phrase "high
standards" in the same sentence with our state-mandated graduation
requirement. In five months, the futures of
Washington's children
will be seriously challenged. By the end of June, WASL scores that
finally count will hit the fan. Get ready to duck,

High-school curricula statewide will shift into remedial mode. Summer
schools will fill overnight and families will cancel vacation plans.
Graduation dates, college dreams and job opportunities will be in
doubt. Families will panic; parents will be furious. Heads will roll.

Then and only then will Washingtonians finally realize our WASL has
been a malignant failure with an exorbitant price tag. When Gov.
Christine Gregoire wants $38.5 million and Superintendent of Public
Instruction Terry Bergeson $42 million to cope with anticipated WASL
failures, rat scent fills the air. Who will blush when some reporter
uncovers the money trail from WASL advocates to state contracts
linking test writing, publishing, grading and even publicity?

We taxpayers trusted legislators, two SPIs and three governors with
our kids' education, so we already paid for the WASL with our hard-
earned dollars. Don't let their monumental mistakes force our kids to
pay with their futures.

— Fred Strine (teacher, 34 years),
North Bend