Friday, October 3, 2008

In the PI - Marshak's take on Dr. Bergeson's WASL

The tragedy of Terry Bergeson
GUEST COLUMNIST Seattle Post- Intelligencer

In 1993, when Terry Bergeson began the work that would lead to the Essential Academic Learning Requirements and the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, she had a bold, creative vision. She wanted to develop a system of academic standards and tests that would synthesize our knowledge about human development and learning from 60 years of research with a statewide assessment program that would measure a complex mix of students' skills and understandings. Bergeson planned to create tests in every subject, including the arts, that would require students to write, think, solve problems and be creative. She would also develop a test for listening skills, a radical idea in the reactionary morass of K-12 curriculum.

Continued at:

His ending ...

I feel some compassion for Terry Bergeson. She wanted to do something really good for kids. But after 15 years what remains is a crippled fragment of her original vision.
And Bergeson demeans what is left of her reputation by distorting WASL data. She claims that 92 percent of the class of 2008 has passed the reading and writing WASL. But you get to that number only by ignoring the 20,000-plus kids who were in that class in 2004 and who have not passed. According to her, 20,000-plus kids who don't count.

Unfortunately for all of us, Bergeson's personal tragedy is Washington's public school tragedy.

David Marshak is a professor emeritus in the College of Education at Seattle University.


Anonymous said...

This is a failure of public policy that has been pushed slowly foward for the past 15 years, not a personal tragedy. B. has built a bureaucracy that will be hard to shake out in the years that follow.

TB and her backers, like Achieve and the UW ed department reaped the benefits of her office both financially and politically.

First, they squelched out any criticism either publicly or academically during her reign and then replaced OSPI and the ESDs with a politicized bureaucracy to manage districts using a morasse of lengthy regulations and even grants that specified which textbooks to buy and pay teachers and consultants.

The entire debate over EALRs is rather pointless, because Washington lawmakers could adopt California standards or even better, Singapore Standards which include curriculum. Curriculum means textbooks and staff development. I'm not sure how the term gets used in Washington.

The senseless, random acts of violence are a symptom of poor schooling, not poor parenting. Otherwise, why have an institution when we might have more success inventing school for parents.

The products of our schools are children and young adults. Until teachers realize their role in society is to transform young people, they will continue being the willing victims of political rogues, like Bergeson.

The superintendent is supposed to run our schools, not ruin them.

Anonymous said...

Assessment is not a part of curriculum. It is a tool used for measuring achievement. Schools should determine first whether they are assessing curriculum or students, they are entirely separate things. This is why assessment cannot be tied to school budgets.

Schools should assess students to determine if they are prepared for college, not if they should graduate from high school.

A summative end of course assessment is used world wide and it could/should be used in the US, but only if curriculum were standardized, meaning the curriculum were embedded into the standards and all schools were using the curriculum for all students. The US has never done that, because students are separated by ability beginning in the second grade. Only students that meet college requirements take the SAT. The WASL only tests what we already know, so its primary purpose is its use as a tool for redistributing Title I funding.

dan dempsey said...

Amazing how much the first comment here .... parallels the causes of the financial mess the country is in.

A centralized OSPI has certainly failed us.

Dr. Bergeson has said we are now delivering the same education to every student.

What a poor claim or goal. Little wonder so many students are poorly served.