Friday, February 06, 2009

WASL News

Two articles were in the PI this week about the WASL. The first one reported a news release from OSPI that the 9th grade WASL will not be given. The second one reported that chairwoman of the state Senate education committee said that she is watching how the WASL is affecting students.

The 9th grade WASL story states that OSPI is trying to find ways to save money. It's true; it's not absolutely necessary to give the WASL at the 9th grade. It certainly is an final early warning about how students might do on the WASL as sophomores and it does allow 9th graders who pass to get it out of the way. But can it be cut? Yes. Sadly, more than double the number of 9th graders than last year had registered to take it (so it seems they perceived a value to it).

This from the second story about state senator, Rosemary McAuliffe,

"Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe promised a hearing room full of teachers, students, parents and education group representatives Wednesday that her committee would find a way to quickly resolve some obstacles for students. However, she warned that budget cuts are coming and some proposals would make it harder for students to meet state graduation requirements."

Uh oh. I hope that the Pathway dean positions (basically the person who tracks every single student who hasn't passed the WASL at each high school) might go away. It's a pretty vital position given how many students struggle. Maybe each high school will spread the pain to teachers and assign them students to track.

Additionally, I listened to an NPR interview with the new Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan. He was not especially specific but he did sound a lot like our new superintendent of public instruction, Randy Dorn, in wanting the assessments under NCLB to be less of a burden on schools and with more diagnostic results delivered more quickly to both parents and teachers.

But, I just heard on the CBS Evening News that moderate Republicans have sat down and gone through President Obama's stimulus package and found cuts in aid to states and ...education. Granted, a lot of that education money was going to construction but I have to believe there are plenty of schools throughout the country that need that help (and not to mention the jobs). In order to get the rest of the package through, Dems might go for it.

Meanwhile an Oregon school district is going to a 4-day week. Here the story from the AP with an interesting twist:

OAKRIDGE, Ore. -- Oakridge has adopted a four-day school week, which could save the district $120,000 a year.

Superintendent Don Kordosky said the district discussed the idea even before the recession and that the decision was based on student benefit, not money.

He said research indicates the shorter week increases teacher attendance and decreases student discipline. About 40 Oregon districts, most of them small, have done the same.

Students will spend an extra 30 minutes a day in school to reach the minimum hours required by law. Enrollment is dropping in hard-pressed Oakridge southeast of Eugene, Ore., as families move elsewhere to find work. That means less state school money, which is distributed on a per-student basis. The four-day week starts July 1.

He says shorter weeks increase teacher attendance. Interesting because an educator told me recently that our district could save money by going over the number of days teachers need a sub (this was before I read this article). He said there were plenty of legit reasons like illness but also said there was probably a lot of education time lost and sub costs. Also interesting, "more than 40 Oregon district have done the same". What? Where the reporting on how that's going? I'd like to know.

7 comments:

hschinske said...

I'm confused -- the 9th graders can't take the *10th*-grade WASL, but don't they still have to take the 9th-grade one?

Helen Schinske

dan dempsey said...

Helen,

To my knowledge there has never been a ninth grade WASL. Check the OSPI data .... nothing about 9th grade WASL results. We are just talking about kids that were taking the grade 10 WASL a year early.

Dan

hschinske said...

Whoa, I didn't know that. I just assumed it was now every year from 3rd to 10th. Okay. Never mind!

Helen Schinske

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yeah, NCLB says grades 3-8 plus one in high school.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

"Uh oh. I hope that the Pathway dean positions (basically the person who tracks every single student who hasn't passed the WASL at each high school) might go away. It's a pretty vital position given how many students struggle. Maybe each high school will spread the pain to teachers and assign them students to track."

The idea that the district would cut resources for some of our most vulnerable students is appalling to me. Really, it's outrageous.

Many struggling students come from families whose parents or guardians are not likely to protest when resources are cut for their children. Parents who are recent immigrants, for example, are likely to keep a low profile. Single parents who work two jobs don't have time for protests.

We can all look around for someone to blame--the district, the state, the Democrats, the Republicans, whoever--but my own view is that we all share some responsibility for the most vulnerable among us.

owlhouse said...

I don't know about the Pathway dean, but the Career Center Specialists are on the chopping block. Their responsibilities are to be rolled into another position for a district savings of $486,210. As one CS explained, they "work with all students however spend a majority of their time working one-on-one with students who are the first in their family to explore college and with students who are exploring alternative post-secondary options like 'gap year' programs, apprenticeships, career and technical colleges."

TechyMom said...

Since Randy Dorn plans to replace the WASL next year, it makes sense to cancel the early 9th grade testing. These students will probably have to take a different test to graduate. Taking the WASL this year won't fulfill the requirement.