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Naval Avenue, other BSD elementary schools prep for WASL

Naval Avenue third graders Dylan Drysdale and Caleb Jennings hold up signs with WASL tips at the school’s “Yes, We Can” assembly. Drysdale and Ellington are members of the Naval Avenue “Smart Club.”  - Wesley Remmer/staff photo
Naval Avenue third graders Dylan Drysdale and Caleb Jennings hold up signs with WASL tips at the school’s “Yes, We Can” assembly. Drysdale and Ellington are members of the Naval Avenue “Smart Club.”
— image credit: Wesley Remmer/staff photo

Testing could begin as early as April 14.

Third grade students at Naval Avenue Early Learning Center are gearing up for the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) test, to be administered to the school’s 52 third graders before May 2.

Bremerton elementary schools will administer the test to third graders, beginning April 14 through May 2. Schools can give the test anytime within the three-week window.

“We’re making real sure we are giving them (the students) the tools they need to succeed,” Naval Avenue principal John Welsh said of the upcoming WASL. “We’re teaching everyday.”

The school held a “Yes, We Can” assembly on Wednesday, one of many WASL-related events the school has designed carried out during the past months.

“Smart Club” students presented WASL goals — namely, to read 40 words per minute, build math facts and develop reading and writing fluency — during the assembly.

And Welsh said encouraging students to set goals is one of his staff’s most effective approaches in teaching the WASL.

“By setting goals, the chances of succeeding become much better,” he said. “Those goals are important.”

Welsh said Naval Avenue is unique in that only 52 of its students — two classes worth — will take the WASL, compared to larger numbers at neighboring elementary schools. Consequently, he said, the school also has focused on preparing younger students as well as third graders for the test.

“It’s encouraging that our teachers know what to do to get the kids ready from Day One,” he said. “We sit down and look at each kid individually.”

Welsh stressed the importance of teaching on a student-by-student basis, rather than teaching a uniform curriculum across the board that may not ring home with every student.

“Our greatest challenge is to get them prepared, finding where kids are at,” he said. “It’s important, so we know what skills to teach.”

Helping kids acquire WASL-related skills is an ongoing challenge, but Welsh said the challenge has brought the best out in his teachers.

“We’re trying to come up with a math assessment that matches the requirements of the WASL,” Welsh said, adding that the school is working closely with Bob Hamilton, BSD director of special education and assessment, to reach that goal.

“It’s helping us become better teachers,” Welsh said. “It tells us what we need to teach.”

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