The Columbian Newspaper September 21, 2005


Don't swallow pro-WASL propaganda

Local View

By Lisa Sampson


Once again those of us fighting the WASL have been slammed by The Columbian's  editorial staff, namely John Laird in his Sept 11th column,"Survival tips for parents and students.”


I find Laird's bias opinion and comments very disturbing. Here are a few facts that were not mentioned his column:


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


She spoke about nearly 80 percent that passed the fourth grade reading test. The actual number of fourth grader in the state to pass all three sections of the WASL, and therefore passed the WASL is 45 percent. A far cry from the misleading 80 percent.After years of use, we have less than 37 percent of all students passing the science WASL.


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


The number of 10th grade students who passes all three sections of the WASL this year is 42 percent;  58 percent failed, only one year before the graduating class of 2008 takes the same tests 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 eight 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 request for these materials. Student Learning Plans and placement in classes are being based on WASL scores that have been destroyed giving parents no recourse to view the test and there validity.


Test destroyed


The state superintendent’s office has failed to notify parents that all students’ 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. What is the superintendent's office trying to hide in destroying these tests?



Charles Hasses, president of the largest teachers union in Washington said "We want what is best for kids, all children are not alike and they deserve multiple ways, not just the WASL, to demonstrate progress. The professional judgment of teachers during four years of high school is more reliable and valid than a WASL score in determining whether a student has earned a diploma."


Parent Empowerment Network urges all parents to view their children’s past WASL to see what is wrong with this test and why only 39 percent 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. 


Parent Empowerment Network wants every parent to know that you have the right to Opt Out of WASL.


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



LISA SAMPSON of Vancouver is an executive board member with
Parent Empowerment Network/
Mothers Against WASL