Spokesman Review September 9, 2005


With the recent release of the 2005 WASL scores, Terry Bergeson spouted her usual rhetoric about how wonderful the scores are and how well the WASL is working.


She spoke about the nearly 80% that passed the 4th grade reading test. Here are a few facts and scores not widely talked about.


The actual number of 4th graders in the state to pass all 3 sections of the WASL, and therefore passed the WASL is 45%. A far cry from the misleading 80% we all heard on the news last week.


After years of use, we have less than 37% of all students passing the science WASL.


In his March 15, 2005 report on 5th grade science and 7th grade math WASL, Dr. Donald Orlich reveals these tests are developmentally inappropriate.  The superintendent’s testing staff has not disputed Dr. Orlich’s report; they have only lodged a complaint with him because he reviewed the actual (secret) tests.


42% is the number of 10th grade students who passed all 3 sections of the WASL this year. Let me rephrase this, that’s 58% that DID NOT pass, just one year before the graduating class of 2008 takes the same test as part of their graduation requirement.


WASL validity and reliability are extremely suspect.  WASL’s own technical report, warns, “Scores from one test given on a single occasion should never be used to make important decisions about students' placement, the type of instruction they receive, or retention in a given grade level in school.” 



For 8 years, the state superintendent has illegally denied access to the WASL, until parents cited federal law. FERPA allows for parents to view their children’s educational records within 45 days of a request.  WASL is included in those records and yet the state continues to ignore parental requests for these materials. One parent in Medical Lake School District has been requesting her son’s 2004 WASL test since May. As of this writing she still has not seen the test she has been requesting for the last 100+ days. Another parent in Spokane is being wrongly accused of helping her son with his WASL after a teacher at her son’s school illegally reviewed the child’s answers. A parent in Endicott complains her son’s school wants to put him in remedial classes based on a failed WASL test that no longer exists as the state has long since destroyed it.


Stories such as these are repeated all over the state but seldom covered by the media.  The state superintendent’s office has failed to notify parents that all student tests prior to 2004 have been destroyed. Parents only have until October 1 2005 to request viewing of their child’s 2004 WASL, followed by destruction of this test by the state in Mid-November and only have until December 1 2005 to request their child’s 2005 test.





Parent Empowerment Network urges all parents to view their children’s WASL to see what is wrong with this test and why only 39% of all students in Washington State are passing this test.




Parent Empowerment Network is working to halt the shredding of these tests to give parents opportunity to request and view these important educational documents.  The superintendent’s office has refused to answer questions about the storage and sharing of student test results.


Lawmakers and the media need to pay attention to all data and scores.  Simply swallowing the propaganda of the state superintendent and the Washington Roundtable is not responsible leadership or journalism.



Shelley Anderson

Executive Board Member

Parent Empowerment Network

Spokane, Wa