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Are We There Yet?

Fri., Jan. 23, 2009, 2:56 p.m.

A new standardized test for students

Alan Guthrie, as a fourth-grader, wrote under his drawing:
Alan Guthrie, as a fourth-grader, wrote under his drawing: "My WASL is a huge monster that eats children and gets stronger from their fear." Now 18, he just thinks the test is a waste of time and money. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Earlier this week, Washington’s new schools chief, Randy Dorn, talked about his plan to replace the WASL with two new tests – the “Measurements of Student Progress” and the “High School Proficiency Exams” – beginning in the spring of 2010.


According to this Associated Press story, students in grades three to eight will be tested twice a year and high school students will be given several opportunities to pass the exam.


In a statement posted on the OSPI website, Dorn said the MSP for grades 3 to 8 will be shorter, less expensive and tied to technology. This will allow for a faster turnaround for results, Dorn wrote. Like the MSP, the HSPE also will be shorter and will involve fewer long-answer questions.


The WASL has been controversial since its inception a decade ago. While many students, parents and teachers are relieved to see it go, there are some who believe that after so much effort and so much money spent to improve the exam, why scrap the whole thing now for something new? Why not continue making efforts to improve it?


What are your thoughts on this issue? Are you glad to see the end of the WASL? What suggestions would you give the new superintendent as his administration prepares to design a new standardized test?

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