Thursday, April 24, 2008

the WASL: did you know?

To some this may be a bit dry. To those who feel a bit more connected to the field of education, you might want to read on...

  • According to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the costs of WASL (Washington Assessment of Student Learning) for next year will increase an additional $41.7 million over current costs. That same amount of money could have helped reduce class size ratios in grades K-3.
  • Overall, the WASL has cost at least $850 million since its inception. This does not include the unfunded portion picked up by the local districts.
  • The WASL has decreased the amount of time spent in schools teaching art, health and fitness, social studies, world languages and career and vocational-technical classes.
  • The WASL and the accompanying regulatory implementation decisions under OSPI's authority have created an increasingly intolerable workload for teachers and other educators, and take critical time and resources away from our primary task - the classroom instruction of all our students to bring them up to the state standards.
  • The disproportionate impact of the WASL on the graduation of minority, special education and low income students has not been reported by OSPI since a report using 2004-2005 data. In that report, scheduled to NOT graduate in 2008 were: 45% of American Indian students, 41% of Special Education students, 40% of Latino students, 39% of African American students, 36% of English Language Learner students (ELL), and 35% of low income students.
  • 15% of this year's graduating class - the first class who has to pass the WASL to graduate - are not included in the OSPI reporting of WASL pass rates. The OSPI total enrollment reported for the class of 2008 when they were 9th graders is 17,000 students less than their total enrollment reported by OSPI this year.
  • As recently as 2006, when the Math WASL was still a graduation requirement, OSPI promised the legislature and public there would be a 'motivational bump' which would increase the rates of the graduation WASL. She predicted the 42% passing rate of 2005 would increase to a 94% passage rate for the class of 2008. As of last year only 61.7% of the class of 2008 passed the WASL; a figure that only accounts for those students still enrolled in school and classified as seniors scheduled to graduate on time who had taken and completed all three tests. (Source)
  • OSPI has promised the legislature and public that the high stakes WASL would not increase student dropout rates, but has not published any data on state dropout rates since a 2006 report which used 2005-2005 data. In that report, 15,921 students dropped out of school in 2004-2005.
  • Last year on May 8, 2007, 14,000 teachers' signatures were delivered on an Open Letter to Terry Bergeson asking her to be more accurate with the public and the legislature about under-reported WASL passing rates; to lower the high stakes for graduation WASL and to eliminate unfunded mandates for school districts caused by the regulations over which OSPI has authority. (Source)

Most of the above information can be found on the OSPI website - other sources are noted where necessary.


Bridget Beth said...

I haaaaated the WASL. If there's so many reasons it's so terrible, why on earth do they still have it??

anne said...

Great question!

Sheeshe said...

The WASL is ridiculous and I agree with Bridget...why? I never had to take it (private school kid) BUT my friends that did said half the questions were on subjects not even taught that year...weird!