The Last WASL: Same as It Ever Was

The WASL begins its swan song this week. New state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, who ran largely on his opposition to the WASL, plans to implement a new, shorter and different kind of test next year. But at least at my daughters' elementary school, you'd hardly know the end is near. While teachers have told kids the WASL may end, they also continue to stress its importance. Notes went out to parents last week advising us to give our kids an especially good breakfast this week. Like compliant parents, my husband and I did so this morning, before the first day of the test at our school. Over eggs and bacon, I asked my 4th grader what messages she was getting about the WASL at school.

"It's like THE BIG DEAL," she told me, "like what we've been building up to all these years."

While obviously there's a problem with seeing a test as the point of education, rather than its measure, it's not entirely crazy that we take the WASL seriously this year. After all, it will still be used this year to evaluate both schools (for the purposes of No Child Left Behind) and individual students (for the purposes of high school graduation and entrance into Seattle's advanced learning programs).

Coincidentally, now that it's likely ending, my daughter has learned to love the WASL. She once found it boring but now she sees it as a kind of fun puzzle. She also gets out of her regular classes. Plus, there are WASL snacks! When we got to school this morning, a table was lined with paper boats of goldfish crackers and string cheese.

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