Juanita Doyon is a Spanaway mom who found PEN (Parent Empowerment Network) to fight for a better assessment tool than the WASL. She has been tireless in this effort. I'm on her mailing list and I received this message:
"Thanks to Bill Benson at KIRO TV for doing an important investigation and report on WASL. And thanks to those of you who contacted Bill to share your experiences. I received the following email from Mr. Benson on Friday. If you aren’t in the Seattle TV service area, please visit the www.kirotv.com to view the story, once it airs at the times stated in the email.
Thanks so much for your help on our WASL story. We’ve put together a two part series that’s been four months in the making and involves an analysis of every district in the state. The promos will be running this weekend and the stories will air on Monday May 11th at 11pm, and on Wednesday May 13th at 6pm. There will also be a place on our website where the public can take a look at WASL anomalies in any district they choose."
Also, I gave pause to giving out the following but decided that information is information.
A local conservative think tank, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, has just come out with its rankings of 1130 public elementary schools in Washington state. (Rankings for middle and high schools come out in the Fall.) It is not entirely clear how they conducted this assessment but an article in Crosscuts says it's mostly WASL-based.
The Foundation does take pains to say don't base your judgment on a school based on these rankings but clearly they think them important enough to invest the money in. Only one Seattle school received a "10" (drumroll - it's Lowell). There were 15 schools around the state to get a 10 (most in Medina/Mercer Island/Woodinville - oddly, none in Bellevue). The Seattle list also includes schools in surrounding districts but for some reason, they didn't put them under King county. From the Crosscut article:
"Year-to-year comparisons are one of the biggest complaints educators and standards researchers have to No Child Left Behind, which relies heavily on such testing systems, and is one reason Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is open to more nuanced growth or value-added models as lawmakers look at reauthorization of the education act."
The Evergreen Foundation ranking stacks school against school scores rather than improvement on the test from the previous year.