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

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Parents and Teachers Standing Up in Olympia, WA Against WASL

From the Olympian:
Education WASL battle continues

The issues: One major issue that doesn't look likely to go away is the fight over high-stakes testing for high school students. Last year, lawmakers delayed a requirement that seniors pass the math WASL in order to graduate. Similar pressure will be brought to bear by teachers groups, parents and skeptical lawmakers to suspend the reading and writing requirement for graduating seniors this year. Also on tap: Washington Education Association requests for belated cost-of-living pay raises to cover increases teachers didn't get in 2003-04, when raises for all state-paid workers were skipped to help balance the budget without general tax increases. Lawmakers also are likely to keep talking about school-funding issues and ways to bolster math instruction.

What's at stake: For this year's high school seniors, the right to graduate with classmates is one concern. But so is the education establishment's effort to raise learning standards, elevate student performance and make Washington more prepared to compete economically.

The players: The WEA long has had questions about using the WASL as a graduation test, and in October the state Parent Teacher Association took a position against using it as a graduation requirement. The business-oriented Washington Roundtable, Gregoire, state schools Superintendent Terry Bergeson and other advocates of higher performance have been adamant in wanting to push forward with testing.

Likely outcome: The testing has survived many attacks over the years, and Gov. Chris Gregoire gets the last word with her veto pen. Chopp put it this way: "I think there are going to be vigorous discussions about keeping the WASL as a graduation requirement. That doesn't mean we do away with it. … The governor has been very clear on that."

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