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Eye On Olympia

What’s Dorn planning to do with the WASL? Here are some hints…

Speaking of new state school superintendent Randy Dorn, he sent out an interesting invitation recently, saying that tomorrow he'll unveil his plans for the controversial Washington Assessment of Student Learning.

Dorn was a state lawmaker when the original law passed, launching the WASL. But throughout last year's campaign, he's said that the intent of the law wasn't the sort of expensive, high-stakes albatross that many teachers and parents see the test as today. Teachers have long complained that the grading takes so long that they don't get the results until far too late to help struggling students.

From the press release:

In recent years, a consensus has developed within the state Legislature and the public that changes to the assessment system are needed. A less complex and more responsive system of measuring students’ progress is critical to help them achieve the basic skills they need.
While the WASL will be administered as planned in 2009, by spring 2010 the state assessment – including its name – will change and resemble what lawmakers, educators and the public want, Dorn said.

I caught up with Dorn in a Senate hallway this afternoon. He was reluctant to say much, but it sounds like he wants a computerized test that can provide results within a 30-day window, so that teachers can use the results to tailor their instruction for individual students.

"We can make it shorter, we can make it diagnostic, we can hook it up to technology, and then (shorten) the turnaround time, so teachers can use it as a tool," he said.

More Wednesday on this.

Short takes and breaking news from the Washington Legislature and the state capital.