Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Differences in News Coverage on Announcement of WASL Scores for Seniors (Updated)

(Update: here's what the PI Editorial board had to say.

"The state's WASL testing regimen has proved to be less than a total success. It is merely a smashing success, one that must be carefully nurtured with adequate state financing, more investments in good teaching and rising expectations for our capable young people."

A smashing success? C'mon, I'm not sure Terri Bergeson would go that far. How can it be a success if we don't even know what happen to all the kids who started in the class of 2008? They just drop-out and drop off the radar? Don't look at the man behind the curtain? It would be one thing if we could clearly know where those kids are, why they dropped out and why so many were reclassified as juniors but we don't. Mission not accomplished.)

The PI had a story yesterday about OSPI releasing information on the number of seniors who had passed the reading and writing WASL. Then the Times had theirs today. Here's the title of the PI's: "90% of Seniors Pass WASL but Critics Say Results Skewed" and here's the Times': "Reading, Writing Scores on WASL win Cheers". Somewhat different takes.

The upshot is that OSPI is not counting the number of kids who dropped out or were "reclassified" by their districts. From the PI:

"Bergeson defended the way the pass rate was calculated.

"We're not hiding where those kids are," she said. Education officials are actually able to better monitor students -- whether they drop out, transfer to another district or are reclassified to another grade -- thanks to a new individual student tracking system that kicks in this year, she said.

Bergeson's office estimates that as many as 14,500 students in the class of 2008 in Washington have dropped out since they started ninth grade and 9,500 have been reclassified in other grades."

From a post after the PI's story after the writer looked at the OSPI's website:

"Number of students listed as freshman in October of 2004: 89,970
Number of students listed as sophomores in March/April of 2006: 81,966
Number of student listed as Seniors in June 2008: 67,099
Number of students who have passed the WASL: 61,327

Where have all the children gone? 22,871 students in the class of 2008 have been removed from the statistics."

From the Times:

"The percentage of high-school seniors who have met state standards in reading and writing is 91.4 percent, Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson announced Tuesday.

That's cause for celebration, Bergeson said, because it means the vast majority of seniors have fulfilled that graduation requirement, one of several that are new this year.

"I just have to stop and say, 'Yeah,' " Bergeson said. "This is so great."

One person, Terri Bergeson, is cheering and that's their headline?

The points were made that (1) more students don't graduate because of lack of credits than not passing the WASL and (2) there is more to graduating than the WASL including community service, credits and senior project.

So I'm not doing the math but clearly this state lost a number of students in the class of 2008 who dropped out somewhere along the way or who are "reclassified" as not part of the class of 2008.

We are never going to get anywhere in this city, state or country if we don't use the clearest numbers possible with the good, the bad and the ugly.

FYI:

"For reading and writing, however, preliminary estimates in Seattle show that 6.7 percent of seniors will fall short because of the WASL, said spokesman David Tucker."

1 comment:

dan dempsey said...

Great Calculations...

The WASL proficient in the class of 2008 divided by the original number of frosh = 68.2%

I figured as follows earlier:

1000 frosh at last graduation rate was listed by OSPI at 70%.

1000 x 70% = 700

multiply by 91% passing rate

= 637 WASLized Seniors per 1000

that is 63.7%

So either way it looks like around 65% of the kids made it

35% did not.

I believe that is extremely poor performance. The Superintendent of Public Instruction thinks otherwise.


That's cause for celebration, Bergeson said, because it means the vast majority of seniors have fulfilled that graduation requirement, one of several that are new this year.

"I just have to stop and say, 'Yeah,' " Bergeson said. "This is so great."

With results like this ... being considered great by Dr Bergeson... I wonder what mediocre would look like given her opinion.