Wednesday, January 21, 2009

PEN Applauds WASL Replacement Plan

Press Release-- January 21, 2009

For Immediate Release:


Contact: Juanita Doyon 253-973-1593

Ten years of protest and petition have finally paid off for members of Mothers Against WASL.

“Our members and supporters have been at the forefront of the battle over this flawed, harmful, costly test that has been the sum and substance of Washington’s accountability system,” said Juanita Doyon, who founded the grassroots Mothers Against WASL, beginning with a two-mom corner rally in 2000. “Superintendent Dorn is to be commended for acting so quickly to fulfill his campaign promise to replace WASL with a test that is more useful, less expensive and less cumbersome.”

Though students, parents and educators will benefit greatly from the changes Superintendent Dorn has planned, a major harm to students and families remains unaddressed. Thousands of students in the class of 2008 are still struggling to gain their high school diplomas, working in a system that was not ready to impose the high-stakes WASL graduation requirement and ensure that all students had the opportunity to meet standards in reading, writing, and math. Thousands of students in the Class of 2009 will soon be in the same situation, unable to continue with their life plans due to the lack of a high school diploma.

The need to replace the WASL was clear to voters, who elected Mr. Dorn to serve as our new State Superintendent. Students in the Class of 2009 should not be held accountable through a test that is obsolete.

Parent Empowerment Network (PEN) calls on Superintendent Dorn, legislators and Governor Gregoire to suspend the WASL graduation requirement, particularly in light of the economic outlook for our state and our families. PEN maintains that the promise of HB 1209 to provide needed funding to assist struggling students and struggling schools remained an empty promise for the past fifteen years. Current economic hardships will increase the inequity between students served in upper and middle class districts and students served in districts in lower economic categories. Increasing numbers of low income, special needs and minority students will be denied high school diplomas through no fault of their own.

PEN continues to receive calls from parents of students who have proven their skills and abilities through passing scores on military exams, acceptance into community and technical colleges, promise of gainful employment, etc…, but who have been denied post high school opportunities because they have been failed by the WASL system.

It is time for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Legislature and the Governor to heed the advice and disclaimer provided by Pearson, the company that develops, publishes and scores the WASL, in the test’s technical report:

“While school and district scores may be useful in curriculum and instructional planning, it is important to exercise extreme caution when interpreting individual reports.…Scores from one test given on a single occasion should never be used to make important decisions about students’ placement, the type of instruction they receive, or retention in a given grade level in school,”

Parent Empowerment Network (PEN) is a nonprofit organization with members throughout the State of Washington. Mothers Against WASL is a project of Parent Empowerment Network.


Superintendent to unveil new assessment system

OLYMPIA - January 16, 2009 — State Superintendent Randy Dorn will announce his plans to change the Washington assessment system, including the replacement of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, in a press conference at 10 a.m., Wednesday, January 21, 2009, at the office of the state superintendent in Olympia.

In recent years, a consensus has developed within the state Legislature and the public that changes to the assessment system are needed. A less complex and more responsive system of measuring students’ progress is critical to help them achieve the basic skills they need.

While the WASL will be administered as planned in 2009, by spring 2010 the state assessment – including its name – will change and resemble what lawmakers, educators and the public want, Dorn said.

Members of the media interested in scheduling interviews with Superintendent Dorn after the press conference should contact Nathan Olson, media relations manager, at (360) 725-6015.


Randy Dorn, State Superintendent of Public Instruction


Announcement of assessment system changes


Office of state superintendent, Olympia


Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 10 a.m.

Parent Empowerment Network is a nonprofit, public charity continuing to fight the good fight thanks to tax deductible contributions from good people like you. Please consider becoming a member or making a contribution today.
Parent Empowerment Network
PO Box 494
Spanaway, WA 98387

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