Thursday, November 30, 2006

Failing to Pass the WASL is Indicative of a Larger Failure

I was appalled to see that Queen Christine has stepped in to decree a three-year delay in the requirement that students in our state be required to pass the math portion of the 10th-grade WASL as a requirement to graduate. The goal that every student pass all three portions of the WASL — the “three ‘R’s” if you will — reading, writing and math, was set in 1993. Here we are almost 14 years later, with almost 30,000 high school sophomores in danger of failing to graduate in 2008.

Superintendent Terry Bergeson has openly acknowledged that the expected spike in math scores had not materialized. Additionally, she admitted that nearly half of those sophomores were not even close to passing. While a summer retake would mean a few more students could pass, nearly half of all members of the class of 2008 will still most likely fail. Meanwhile, our questionably elected governor has said she will push for legislation in the next legislative session to postpone the math requirement for three years.

Gregoire’s proposal is to allow students to graduate if they can pass the reading and writing portions of the WASL along with rigorous math classes through their senior years. "This thee-year period will give us time to overhaul our math instruction," she said.

In a phone interview, Bergeson told the Kitsap Sun, "We’ve already got some changes lined up.“ She also said she is confident a rejuvenated math program will pay off for the class of 2011.

What about the classes of 2008, 2009 and 2010?

I am no education expert, but it seems to me if they couldn’t accomplish this in 14 years, another three isn’t going to make much of a difference unless those changes include dumbing down the entire math curriculum to the lowest common denominator. I oppose that.

Bergeson, the former Central Kitsap Schools superintendent, was also quoted as saying, "It was disappointing for everyone. It wasn’t due to a lack of effort among teachers or students. We were just not ready."

What does that mean exactly? And more to the point, after 14 years, WHY are we “just not ready?”

Bergeson added, "It showed us that it wasn’t a matter of motivation. Those same students scored nearly 90 percent in the reading and writing portions, so they were clearly trying. It just became evident that we as a state had not properly prepared them for the math portion."

I am more than a little reluctant to accept that “we as a state” crap. You and I didn't have anything to do with this other than paying our taxes to fund this colossal failure. How about putting the blame where it belongs? And naturally, when we are talking about educational accountability, the Washington Education Association (WEA) — which is always demanding more of our tax dollars and shaming liberal lawmakers to either hand them over or miss out on election campaign funds — is conspicuously silent about its failure to educate our students properly.

More than HALF of the entire state budget is already devoted to education. The theme of just about every Democrat elected in November was that we need to support education even more. To me at least, it’s painfully obvious that we aren’t getting our money’s worth now. So will someone explain to me how throwing even MORE money at the problem is going to solve it?

Bergeson went on to say that if the schools that had failed, it’s not fair to punish students by not letting them graduate. Yeah, that makes sense — let’s send them off to college and/or out into the “real world” without a proper education and pat ourselves on the back for doing the right thing. Sorry, but that just doesn’t fly with me. In my view, Bergeson, the legislature, and the WEA, all deserve a failing grade.


  1. It's a shame the WASL was implemented in the first place. Now, teachers are concerned with teaching their students how to pass the WASL, not educate them. It's "regurgitation" teaching at its worst. "Memorize this for the WASL, then promptly forget it."

    I'm very glad I graduated a few years before they started administering the WASL, and that my time wasn't consumed by worrying about ANOTHER standardized test (the SAT's being the first).

  2. Anonymous12:46 PM

    The fruit of the "new math" is now at hand--their is none. They can't be seriously thinking of teaching the same thing for another 3 years and think our students will improve. It the students and teachers have been putting forth the effort, then the methodology and applications of this "new math" needs to be thrown out and we need to revert back to the way it was done before. If this failure doesn't show that, I don't know what will.