Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Less Kids Refuse the WASL

In recent years the hip thing to do was to refuse to take the WASL, because it didn't count and who was The Man to tell you what to do and who cares if it put the school into AYP. Now that you have to pass the test to graduate, though, refusals are way, way down. From the Everett Herald:
With a diploma on the line, far fewer students are refusing to take the WASL - though many are still yelling about it.

Snohomish County led the state last year in the number of sophomores opting out of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, making up 23 percent of the 1,016 teens who opted out of all three subjects, according to a 2005 Herald analysis of scores.

It's a far different story this year.

Under preliminary figures, refusals appear to be about one-fifth of last year's counts statewide.

Students must pass the reading, writing and math sections to graduate, starting in 2008.

That put a different spin on the annual exams for this year's sophomores, who recently got their scores back after taking the battery of tests in March and April.
It will happen eventually that a conscientious objector with impeccable grades will refuse to take the test and then be denied their diploma. How the system responds will be incredibly telling about how committed the state is to making the WASL count.

I have my objections to high-stakes testing, especially here in the younger grades. At the high school level, though, I think the kids need to realize that the WASL is the way of the world now, and that complaining and refusing isn't going to make it go away. My heart breaks at the idea that good kids might not graduate, but as someone who cares about education I can't live with the system the way it has been. There are links to practice tests right off the OSPI's front page, so any interested parent or student can see what will be expected. Dr. Bergeson also did a great job of getting the legislature to fund remedial programs for the kids who didn't make it--what else should the state do?


Blogger NYC Educator said...

Is the test so inaccurate that good students would fail it?

Here in NY, we've had do-or-die tests for years, and the standards are often well-below those of individual teachers offering the subjects in question.

10:52 AM  
Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

We had a GT kid who used a crayon on his English test a few years ago, somehow unobserved by the teachers proctoring him. Rainbows, unicorns, smurfs-- but no actual writing in the whole darn thing.

The GT teacher actually cried when she saw it.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

NYC: I don't think it is. I took the practice high school math test on a lark and I thought it was valid and doable. I missed a couple because I didn't read the problem thoroughly enough, but overall--it's OK.

Ms. C: Oh dear Lord. That would break my heart, too! Did the kid offer any reason?

12:07 PM  
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4:59 AM  

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