News WASL Showdown
posted by April 19 at 17:44 PMon
In addition to the budget, there’s one more big legislative skirmish knocking around in the legislature before the session ends this Sunday. The fight is about a WASL reform bill.
Citing high failure rates (about 49%) Democrats in the House want to delay the high school graduation requirement that says students must pass the math and science portion of the WASL.
However, Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe (D-1, Bothell), want to amend the bill to also delay the requirement that students must pass the reading and writing portion of WASL to graduate.
Neither the House nor the Governor (the bill was originally her’s) like the idea of delaying the reading and writing requirement.
However, the Washington Education Association does. Here’s the spin from their recent legislative outlook newsletter:
WEA supports delaying all sections of the WASL and using the delay to review, revamp and improve the current student assessment system. Math WASL scores have received a lot of attention, and there appears to be agreement about delaying that part of the high-school WASL. The House and Senate have passed versions of Senate Bill 6023, which delays the math WASL and makes other changes. But, looking at the state’s own statistics, it’s clear there’s a larger problem with the WASL and its use as a graduation requirement. According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, only 45.1 percent of Washington’s eligible high-school students have passed the reading, writing and math sections of the WASL. The 10th-grade WASL is required for graduation under current law. WEA has long advocated against using a single test to make high-stakes decisions about students and schools. WEA supports an assessment system that measures student achievement in multiple ways.
You’ll notice, however, that not passing math is included in WEA’s analysis. My suspicion is that it’s the math portion that’s dragging down the pass rate, not the reading and writing sections.
Indeed, Rep. Joe McDermott (D-34, West Seattle), who opposes Sen. McAuliffe’s amendment to delay the reading and writing graduation requirement, reports that the pass rate for the reading and writing sections of WASL are much higher than the pass rate for math and science sections.