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Passing WASL shouldn't be required for graduation

Arthur Hu; Kirkland;

Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson's call for changes and increases in funding for the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (TNT, 11-18) is just putting more lipstick on a failing pig. In this time of budget cuts, WASL frills like personal congratulation letters to my son should be the first places to cut, not spend.

No amount of tinkering or repeat tries is going to fix the underlying implausibility of requiring every student to rise above average. How did the CEOs behind the Partnership for Learning and the Washington Roundtable succeed in taking away your child's diploma if you can't factor a second-degree polynomial or can't measure up to the 30 percent who will be admitted to a four-year university? Most jobs today require a diploma, not a degree.

Score improvement is a mirage when the WASL folks have changed the passing scores, the difficulty of the test, the specifications and even the essential learning standards themselves over the years. Erasing the achievement gap with a thinly disguised IQ test is a joke when overall pass rates have remained at two to four times that of disadvantaged minorities.

Legislators should follow Gary Locke's recommendation to cut back WASL. Educational experts agree tests like WASL should be banned as a roadblock to a diploma.

Eighth-grade entrance tests that allowed only 5 percent to continue were eliminated by progressives a century ago who thought everyone deserved an education to be better workers and citizens. Where are those people today?



(Published 12:30AM, November 24th, 2002)

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