"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, April 23, 2007

Signs of Sanity Emerging in Washington State

From the Seattle Times:

OLYMPIA -- Students won't have to pass the math portion of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning in order to graduate until 2013.

That's the bottom line of a messy deal reached Sunday in the Legislature shortly before lawmakers adjourned for the year.

The agreement, passed by the House and Senate, also pushes back the deadline for passing the science WASL to 2013.

The bill has a provision that would allow the state Board of Education to set an earlier date for either test.

Legislative leaders spent their final days in Olympia battling over the issue, which at times threatened to drag lawmakers into a special session.

Key Democrats wanted to delay the reading and writing portions of the test as well as math and science, but Gov. Christine Gregoire balked at that.

In the end, the governor won. Legislators passed a bill that delayed only the math and science portions of the test. Students in the class of 2008 would still have to pass the reading and writing portions.

Lawmakers also included other provisions, such as an expanded appeals process for students who fail one or more sections of the test.

Marty Brown, Gregoire's legislative liaison, said that although the governor supports the delay for the math and science requirement, it's not clear what other parts of the bill she might keep or veto. . . .

. . . . Students in the class of 2008 were supposed to be the first group required to pass reading, writing and math on the WASL (or an approved alternative) to graduate.

Students in the class of 2010 were supposed to pass the science portion of the test as well.

To date, nearly 85 percent of them have passed the reading section of the exam, and about the same in writing.

It's a different story in math and science, with just 56 percent passing math and 38 percent passing science. And that doesn't include about 3,500 students who had not yet taken the test as of this school year.

Gregoire, along with Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson, had pushed for a delay in math. But both were strongly opposed to delaying the year in which students must pass the reading and writing sections of the exam.

Many Democratic lawmakers wanted to delay reading and writing. School districts with large numbers of low-income children and students who speak English as a second language asked for the delay. . . .

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