Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Article in Crosscut


Chris Vance has published an interesting article about the history of how the WASL came about and what the original intentions of the people who wrote the laws surrounding the WASL were. It is a two part series. It is an interesting read.



Charlie Mas said...

Here's a hot link:

What Went Wrong

Johnny Calcagno said...

Don't miss this comment by Sean:

So Chris Vance played a key role in screwing Seattle's public school system. Thanks, your misguided efforts are costing me over $14,000 annually in private school tuition.

As the parent of a kindergardener, I spent untold hours last year visiting public and private schools and talking with teachers, principals, and parents. I have news for you, Chris - the free market has spoken, at least in Seattle, and it has overwhelmingly rejected standardized testing as an educational lynchpin.

The fact that WASL dominates the curriculum of Seattle public schools is one of the main reasons why so many parents, myself included, send their kids to private schools. The private schools know this and have actually worked it into their sales pitch! Every parent I've spoken with agrees - a curriculum centered around elevating standardized tests scores is a complete waste of a bright young child's time. It turns eager students into a bored clockwatchers who can't wait for the bell to ring.

As a conservative, I'm surprised you've missed the obvious lessons of the market. Schools work best when they are held accountable to their customers -- the parents -- rather than to politicians and bureaucrats who have no skin in the game and who have no expertise in education.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks for adding this comment, Johnny. I had never heard that some people choose private school because of the WASL. Add that to the list.

Dan Dempsey said...

Consider what has happened in the schools because of WASL.

Was not the original plan that students were going to learn more and be better prepared when leaving school because of WASL?

What we should have done was have a test that the scores became part of the transcript or diploma and available electronically to employers and colleges etc.

The artificially imposed WASL competence line is absurd.

Here is what we've created:
Schools that take resources away from high level challenging classes to put into very low level classes. The net effect is lower quality.

Since SPS has totally ignored grade level necessary skills socially promoting large numbers of students. There is a significant drop out problem when unskilled students are unable to do high school level work successfully.

A decade of this nonsense now has recent high school graduates entering Seattle Central CC with 50% placing in the equivalent of High School Math one or below. With the leadership of Rosalind Wise and Carla Santorno we continue down the failed well established math path. SPS just spent $2.5 Million on Everyday Math a well proven failure and is now forcing elementary school teachers through training or perhaps it is providing training I forget.

Here with $2.5 million down one drain and $4.2 million into coaches for teachers instead of smaller class sizes - Sure we must have $1.8 million for Pro-Bono attorneys.
There is plenty of money to throw everywhere except the classroom.

Let us hire another administrator to connect with ethnic populations , while adopting ethnically discriminatory texts and making WSHS abandon a schedule which has shown incredible success with ethnic populations.

The bizarre part is not so much what went wrong but rather that it is still going wrong and the school board sits and watches.

This idea of standardizing everything is insane until someone standardizes all the students. Clearly students are not standardized but board members are happy to sit by and listen to the latest fad nonsense spewing forth from the SPS pipe.

It is really not this difficult.
1. Decide what the children should learn {those would be the necessary skills mentioned in D43, D44, D45 but never addressed}
2. Decide how to teach it to them. {teaching using lots of teachers will work better than using academic coaches on the teachers}
3. Decide what you will do when the students don't learn it. {these would be the effective interventions spoken about in D44 & D45 - but since we never defined the necessary skills we can't check for them and don't know what does require intervention} Of course since we are putting resources everywhere except the classroom it would be difficult to have effective interventions.

Remember Washington is number 47 in class size - thus SPS puts money into Coaching rather than more teachers. Is this district really interested in teaching students and supporting parents and teachers. Hard to tell when they adopt math curriculum that is neither user friendly nor effective. To those who take issue with my appraisal of Everyday Math contact me.


But remember we must have done the right thing because Everyday Math is the best aligned series with the Math GLEs - you know the GLEs that the colossal Terry Bergeson declared state-wide math failure is based on. More great leadership from Seattle Math - this EM move was pure Santorno in action.

BULLY = LEADER (I think Not)
ditto for
Bullying = leadship

What a collaborative work environment we have in Seattle schools - reminds me of the Divine Right of Kings.