Still no WASL relief for class of 2013 and beyond

While the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) math amendment signed into law this week by Gov. Chris Gregoire will provide some relief for current high schoolers, the class of 2013’s (and classes thereafter) graduation status will still depend on passage of the highly debated test.

Not only will 2013 grads (this year’s eighth-graders) and beyond be required to pass math, but also the science assessment as well as earn three high school math credits — instead of the current two credits. While it’s important to hold students to a high level of standards to prepare them for life after graduation, this year’s eighth-graders are truly in for some serious preparation.

With House Bill 1562 now officially law, students in the classes of 2009-2012 who do not pass the high school math WASL on their first attempt can meet that math graduation requirement by earning two math credits after 10th grade. They are no longer required to take an annual math assessment test on top of those credits. Although, they will still have to take the test in 10th grade.

While this will come as a welcomed relief for those students, the class of 2013 will be the first whose graduation will depend on the WASL. The WASL is scheduled to be replaced by the High School Proficiency Exam, but graduation for these students will still hinge on their assessment test scores, regardless of what it’s called.

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, as well as our state’s lawmakers, are working to make WASL as seamless as possible, but it’s never going to be when you pile a mountain of assessment tests on students and slap on the label of graduation requirement. Students shouldn’t be forced to meet test assessment standards that may not even apply to them, the standards should be amended to meet them. As important as math and science are in our society, a student who has no intention of going into a math- or science-related field shouldn’t have their graduation status depend on these tests. Yes, hold students to a high standard, but a standard that meets their needs, not one of uniform status.

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