Dear friends in the struggle for educational sanity,
The WASL War continues.... and heats up. I am getting new contacts almost daily and it isn't even WASL season-- fa,la,la,la,la..... oops, wrong carol.
Several activism strategies are being used throughout the state to get the word out, educate the masses and encourage WASL protest and boycott. I am involved in some of these efforts, but there are many people who know nothing of Mothers Against WASL who are working to put an end to this awful, expensive, abusive test. It is encouraging to me that nearly every time I read an anti-WASL letter to the editor, in any newspaper, it is from someone who is not yet on my email list. People all over the state are thinking on a higher level!
Several of us MAWs attended the September, WASL score release news conference, at the Puget Sound Education Service District. We were hoping to get to ask a couple questions from the upper room, where we were shuffled off to when we arrived, but Dr. Bergeson found it appropriate to cut us off after taking questions from every other ESD. It was interesting to see that the Puyallup district was upheld as the poster child for falling 10th grade scores. One Partnership for Learning member was heard to say that there was a big protest there which "that lady in the no WASL shirt" was responsible for. Hmmm.... I couldn't have planned that better if I had actually planned it-- imagine getting scores in a neighboring district to my own to fall! Friends and I held a couple corner rallies within the Puyallup district, I mailed buttons to several people there (as I did to many other districts), and we handed out buttons and shirts outside the Spring Fair one afternoon. Other than that, it was Puyallup parents and students who did a great job making a big dent in scores! Way to go Puyallup!
The OSPI concern of the day, as most of you have probably heard, is that 10th graders don't seem to take the WASL seriously enough. This is hogwash! Our 10th graders are more intelligent and thoughtful than the state education leaders give them credit for. I'm trying to confirm the information I heard about the 10th grade writing section. My nephew, who took the test, told me that one of the questions was about whether students liked or agreed with the WASL. This would explain why writing scores went up when the others went down. Riverside enabled students to write WASL protest essays and get credit for them! If anyone knows if this was truly the case, please let me know.
After 6 years of WASL administration, we are still telling over 70% of our 4th graders, over 75% of our 7th graders and just under 70% of our 10th graders that they are sub-standard in at least one of the 4 WASL subjects. According to a quote from Terry Bergeson last spring, the 7th grade Math test may be "out of whack." Yes, Dr. Bergeson, WASL is out of whack! It raised the bar to break it over our children's heads and break their young hearts. The 10th graders are protesting. The 7th graders are frustrated and the 4th graders are working their hearts out for hours and hours and still being told they are failures! How long will this go on before we quit saying "the test is valid; the kids failed"?
Back to the fight:
Last month, I helped a couple of Lake Stevens moms and one Lake Stevens student hold a corner rally and also picket at an elementary school as their WASL information night was starting. We gave away lots of buttons and shirts to students who saw us and came from a nearby neighborhood to where we were on our well-chosen busy corner. One of these moms wrote the following letter to the Lake Stevens paper. It was printed in the October 16th edition. Yay! If anyone needs help finding out how to email local papers, let me know. I'm happy to help edit letters for anyone willing to write them. Letters to the editor are one of the best word spreading tools we have.
>From the Lake Stevens Journal:
We would like to address all of you who showed your support to Mothers Against WASL by honking your horns as you passed our corner rally on Tuesday, Sept. 24. First of all, we would like to say, thank you for your support.
Next, we hope all of you realize that the WASL is not a required test, and that you have the legal right to opt your child out of this high-stakes, high-stress test. Contrary to what the state superintendent would like parents to believe, at this time the WASL is not a requirement for graduation in 2008, which means there is still time to fight it.
Approximately $28 per child is spent to administer the WASL. More is spent on supporting programs for the test. These are funds that could be better spent for true improvement of our schools to address problems such as teacher and facility shortages.
A special thank you to all you teachers out there who quietly support us.
Our goal as Mothers Against WASL is to educate people on the real story of the WASL. For more information please go to www.rereformed.com
Mothers Against WASL
Will Lake Stevens make it to the score release hall of fame for low scores next year? Time will tell. Go Lake Stevens!
A high school student in Seattle is making a video about WASL. He has invited me to the screening.
A student in a nearby district has been invited to meet with her principal and district administration, and I will be meeting them with her on Monday. We'll keep you posted.
Students, if you are interested in getting the student group going stronger, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org Jen is working hard to encourage statewide boycott.
As the organizer of Mothers Against WASL, I distributed a press release calling for statewide boycott and supporting the changes requested by WEA. I will paste the press release at the bottom here, for any of you who have not seen it.
Dr. Donald Orlich delivered an invited address in Spokane this past weekend which contains many of his findings on the invalidity of WASL. If anyone would like to see this report, let me know and I will send it to you as an attachment. It is great!
The time has come for all concerned groups and individuals to join forces and support each other to increase our volume and impact. I will be putting together some resources for presentations to district union representatives and school boards very soon. Seattle Education Association passed a WASL resolution 2 years ago, which is still valid and reliable-- unlike the test it addresses. If any of you are aware of union or board action or statements, please let me know.
It is vital that we keep the pressure on! The state is now studying ways to make WASL more important to sophomores. Requiring WASL passage to enter state colleges and the Running Start program is one such scheme. Dr. Bergeson calls this a "positive incentive." I call it high-stakes! Every well-respected educational association in the land has a statement against high-stakes testing, yet our "leaders" go blindly on gouging our kids, our teachers and our local administrators.
I will quit for now and do my best to contact you again soon. If any of you need any help or supplies for organizing, please let me know. I am more than willing to travel to any area of the state if anyone needs me to come and present to a group-- large or small. Or I can send buttons, stickers, shirts, written materials, etc... anywhere they're needed. Don't forget those anti-WASL labels for your Halloween handouts-- communicational innovation is the mother of all successful activism! I'm here to help!
If you have received more than one copy of this message to your personal email, please let me know and I will do my best to undo the duplication. It is a very good sign that I have trouble keeping up with the email addresses. Our numbers are growing! I need a secretary-- not to mention a housekeeper. Thank you all for your willingness to get involved for our kids, our schools and our communities!
GRASSROOTS TEST RESISTANCE FORCE, MOTHERS AGAINST WASL, CALLS FOR STATEWIDE BOYCOTT OF TEST AND THE EXPUNGING OF ALL PAST WASL SCORES.
From: Juanita Doyon
Washington State Coordinator for the national Assessment Reform Network
In association with FairTest www.FairTest.org
Organizer, Mothers Against WASL www.rereformed.com
Candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction 2004
Date: September 9, 2002
UPON THE RELEASE OF 2002
WASHINGTON ASSESSMENT OF STUDENT LEARNING SCORES, MOTHERS AGAINST WASL
CALLS FOR THE STATEWIDE BOYCOTT OF THE 2003 WASL. MOTHERS AGAINST
WASL CALLS ON ALL PARENTS AND GUARDIANS OF 4TH, 7TH, AND 10TH GRADE STUDENTS
TO STUDY THE ISSUE OF HIGH-STAKES TESTING, REVIEW THE WASL TEST THAT IS
TO BE ADMINISTERED TO THEIR CHILD, AND FILE AN OPT-OUT FORM WITH THEIR
CHILD'S SCHOOL AND DISTRICT. MOTHERS AGAINST WASL ALSO ENCOURAGES
TEACHERS TO USE THEIR RIGHTS OF FREE SPEECH TO
SHARE THEIR FEELINGS ON HIGH-STAKES TESTING IN GENERAL AND THE WASL SPECIFICALLY AND WORK TO SUPPORT THE POSITIONS TAKEN BY WASHINGTON EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, AS FOLLOWS. MOTHERS AGAINST WASL IS IN AGREEMENT WITH THESE STATEMENTS.
>From the "Preliminary Accountability
Strategy Task Force Position Paper on WASL Reform"-Washington Education
p. 3-5, "WASL Reform-A Call for Changes, A Call For Review," requests that the following concerns be addressed and/or changes be made "Prior to the 2003 administration of the WASL"
1. "Delink the 10th grade
WASL from high school graduation requirements.
2. "The "zero" WASL score from any student exempted from taking the WASL by a parent, guardian, IEP team or other entity authorized to make decisions on behalf of the student or any student of legal age exempting themselves from the WASL should not be factored into nor counted against the WASL score for the classroom, school or district."
3. "Conduct a thorough, objective, external study to re-evaluate the WASL cut score and error of measurement. To ensure research transparency, include a review of the study by a panel representing the professional education organizations, parents and the ethnic communities.
4. "Students whose scores fall within the error of measurement range should be considered as passing the WASL for state and federal accountability decisions."
5. "The reporting of WASL scores and their use for any decisions regarding state or federal accountability should include only the following: A. Students who have been in the school or feeder school for at least one year and in the state for three consecutive years. B. Limited English Proficiency (LEP) student who score at the proficiency level on the examination of English language skills."
6. "All OSPI decision-making groups responsible for ESEA decisions should include current, practicing classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, principals, district administrators and parents in all meetings at all levels of the discussion. Educators should represent a majority in the meetings. Representatives should be appointed by their respective organizations."
7. "OSPI should convene a panel representing practicing Special Education classroom personnel, administrators and parents. Panel members should be appointed by their respective professional organizations with classroom educators representing the majority on the panel. The panel should make policy recommendations regarding: A. A review of and recommendations for an alternative assessment system for special education students who are exempted from the WASL test. B. The disaggregation and reporting of special education student scores in the state assessment system for purposes of school analysis."
In addition, Mothers Against WASL strongly suggests that:
1. Until WASL is certified
valid by the Washington State School Board and Legislature, no student
in our public schools should be subjected to the tests without written
and informed consent of parents or guardians.
2. WASL should never be used as a gatekeeper for Running Start or any other course of study for high school students.
3. Past WASL scores, labeling thousands of our students "sub-standard" with results from an experimental test, be expunged from state, district, and student records.
4. WASL funding be suspended, until the state legislature and OSPI can ensure that education funding to districts and classrooms is adequate to ensure opportunity to learn for all Washington students and that administrative waste at the state level is at a minimum.
Mothers Against WASL is an internet-based growing force of parents, teachers, administrators and community members throughout the state of Washington.