At the end of this year's legislative session, it was voted to suspend use of the math/science portions of the WASL until 2013 according to an article in the Seattle Times.
If I can get this right, no class has ever had to pass the math, reading and writing portions of the WASL to graduation. I believe that was to start in 2008. The state is up to about 85% of students passing the reading and writing WASL and so, starting with the class of 2008, all seniors will have had to take and pass the reading and writing portions of the WASL to graduate. Only 56% of sophomores had passed the math WASL and just 38% passed the science WASL. (Just to keep in mind; if you don't take and pass the WASL, you cannot be issued a diploma and graduate with your class in the state of Washington. However, very few colleges or universities require a diploma to enroll. UW doesn't.)
The bill has a provision that would allow the state Board of Education to set an earlier date for either test. The Board of Education is likely to hear from the business community which stands behind the use of the WASL. From the article:
"Steve Mullin, president of the Washington Roundtable, an association of corporate executives, said the bill has too long of a delay for the math and science WASL requirements. "We'll be urging a full veto," he said."
The bill also requires the state Board of Education to study the prospect of replacing the math and science WASL tests with end-of-course assessments.
The governor has said she favors delaying the math and science portions but not the reading and writing portions. It is not known how she feels about end-of-courses assessments (such as in New York state where they have what are called Regents exams for single subjects).
I'm not against assessments. I just think the WASL is not the best test and needs tweaking. It is also a very expensive test at $18 per portion which works out to between $58-72 per student, depending on grade level. It's hard for me to believe we could not assess students for less cost (and plow that money back into the classroom). For example, the normative test, ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) was considered at gold standard for its type of test (multiple choice, scored by a machine) and cost about $3 per student. I sure wish there was some in-between test that cost less and was less reading and writing based in the math portions. (I've never gone to check out what the science portions are like. Anybody out there who has?)
I get when people say (especially business) that students graduating high school should be able to do sophomore level work. I'm not for letting kids off the hook.
One last thing; I wish there were a civics/lifeskills portion to the WASL. Kids need to know basic information (which we teach to immigrants before they can become citizens) about being an American citizen like how often we vote for President (senators, representatives) what is the Electoral college, why are 3 branches of government important, what are the Bill of Rights are, how to write a resume, etc.