Tuesday, October 21, 2008

WASL Work Session #4

The fourth WASL Workgroup Session was held on Monday October 13. This meeting was a devastating setback for those of us believe we have a chance at common sense and cost efficient assessment testing. The session was supposed to discuss how and why some school districts use other assessments such as the ITBS, MAP or other assessments as supplemental assessments to the WASL. The presenters were teachers from the Nooksack Valley School District (NVSD, somewhere around Bellingham), an administrator from the Spokane School District (SSD) and an administrator from the Kent School District (KSD). The NVSD uses District Writing/Oral Math and Ed Data Solutions; the SSD uses a district developed assessment; and the KSD uses both district based assessments and what appears to me to be commercial based assessments in order to determine the abilities of their students. All three of these presenters were very blatantly pro-WASL. So much so that Sen. McAuliffe questioned the organizer of these presentations as why this was so. I never did hear a reason as to why, but then my hearing, just like my math skills are not quite what they used to be. Unfortunately, this is the same strategy that Supt. Bergeson used to sabotage the writing of world class math standards, which prevents our children from receiving a world class education as they are being taught to WASL Standards. Assessment Testing can nullify excellent curricula as teachers are ordered to teach to the test by curriculum directives issued by local school district administrators or OSPI. One of the subjects at the next meeting is why some school districts don't like the WASL. It appears to me that more value is being placed on the assessment of student abilities than on the teaching the student basic fundamental academic skills. At a time when federal, state and local school district budgets are under increasingly tremendous financial pressure, this appears to me to be a waste of valuable and scarce educational resources and time. What happened to the concept of letting the teacher assess the abilities of our children? I would like you to reflect on your parent/teacher conferences for a moment. This is generally how mine go, and I'm sure most of you can relate to this. The first question I ask, is how is xxx doing? What are her strengths and weaknesses? The teacher then explains everything to me. Is there anything that I can do to help her overcome her weakness? The teacher then may make some suggestions. Most parent/teacher conferences last for about 1/2 hour and this time seems to fly and yet it is very informative. The teacher can also assess the student, every time the student incorrectly answers a question. Another setback occurred when Asst. Supt. Joe Wilhoft made his presentation. He discussed the new End of Course Tests (EOC) that are supposed to replace the Comprehensive WASL. According to Asst. Supt. Wilhoft, a traditional sequence of Math consisting of Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II consist of 119 course specific "Performance Expectations." He explained that the Integrated Math Sequence of I, II, and III contained more, as some were common to more than one course. When I learned math in my day, I never realized that I was supposed to learn this much, but my Math skills are still better than those of most high school seniors, even though I've probably forgotten more than they will ever learn, because much of what I learned is no longer being taught as our children are taught to inferior WASL Standards. Asst. Supt. Wilhoft didn't say if the new EOC exams were going to be commercial, off the shelf tests giving us national percentile rankings or if they were going to be developed specifically for Washington State. If we are going to have customized EOC Assessment Testing, just like the WASL, that means Supt. Bergeson was working for the test writers, large corporations and her campaign supporters as she sabotaged the Math Standards, and in the process have denied our children the learning and application of conventional math skills, thereby providing them an inferior public education. It costs about $15,000 for each question for each grade level test. There are 50 - 55 questions per test, so you can see how beneficial it is to the greedy test writers to have customized tests. Each grade level subject test costs $750,000 or more to write, let alone correct. If the WASL is such a great analytical tool, why are so many students failing it? Our children are not stupid, and our teachers are not incompetent. It is the flawed, fraudulent WASL that makes them appear that way. There is absolutely no excuse for the number of student failures that are occurring. How can 50% of the students fail their Math WASLs and up to 90% their Science WASLs? The WASL has been in effect for 14 years, this is a full K-12 cycle and then some, and teachers have been instructed to teach to the test. There is no excuse for the failure rate the WASL is causing, if the WASL is a fair, curriculum related test, which it isn't. The administrator from the KSD stated that about 150 students have requested school transfers as a result of NCLB. This could be considered a waste of KSD resources, for do we really know if the transfers were the result of student inabilities, or the fraudulent inaccurate scoring of the WASL? Doesn't massive requests of student transfers cause overcrowding at the better schools? Whose going to teach the incoming transfers, and where is the classroom space for them? Probably the same teachers that taught some of them before as they are reassigned. This is bureaucratic lunacy at its best and it is totally ridiculous and a waste of taxpayer monies. An important newcomer attended the session. She introduced herself as a member of either the district or state PTA. She stated that the three major concerns parents have are: 1. School Funding; 2. Math and Science and 3. the WASL. These are my concerns too. Without adequate school funding and the proper funding of unfunded mandates, our public school system is going to cease to exist, and our children are going to pay a terrible price as they are victims of an inferior public education at a time when a quality public education is paramount, if they are going to be given half a chance to suceed against their national and international peers. The WASL, Math and Science can really be combined as far as I'm concerned. Our children need to learn conventional math and science skills. How can 90% of the students at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, be failing their science WASL.? Are they that stupid? I don't think so. The test is unfair and riddled with both test question and answer scoring errors, yet no one within the Seattle School District is questioning the validity of those scores, except for the Science Teacher at Ecstein Middle School who was suspended for failing to administer this crooked test. His story was never heard as the vicious character assasins of the new media hacked him to pieces and never allowed his story to be heard and told. Teachers are being told to teach to the test by both local curriculum directors and OSPI, and the WASL does not test for basic skills, therefore basic skills are not being taught. Let's take a look at the damage the fraudulent WASL is doing to the Edmonds School District. The Challenge Program at Terrace Park Elementary contains many of the best and brightest students in the ESD. I know because my oldest daughter qualified for the program and entered it for awhile. She was also competitive within it. This program is in step 1 of NCLB, whatever that is. They also did not meet AYP. The students entering this program have to test at the 90th nationwide percentile or better, one year in advance. If students are testing at this level, there is no room for improvement as they are maxed out for all practical purposes. There is little or no room above them for them to improve. How much higher above 90% can you really go? Both of my daughters have attended Beverly Elementary. I've been extremely pleased with both the quality of the students and teachers at this school. I believe that both the inspiration and motivation of the teachers and the challenges that she received from her classsmates have been responsible for the 3.95GPA my oldest daughter has received in the 7th grade All Honors Program at Meadowdale Middle School. I believe that Meadowdale Middle School is a truly outstanding school. The majority of the students in my daughter's Honors classes are not from Beverly, but from Lynndale, Meadowdale and Seaview Elementary Schools. All three of these schools are among the best elementary schools in the district. Yet even with the quality of the students from all of these schools, Meadowdale Middle failed to meet the AYP and In Improvement criteria of No Child Left Behind, because the fraudulent WASL is failing them. They are not failing the WASL. The fraudulent WASL contains both test question errors and scoring errors. My daughters have been victimized by both kind of errors. Here is the stupidity of the situation. As a parent I have the right to review my childrens' WASL Test. In order to view this test, I have to sign a confidentiality agreement that prevents from talking about the test. In order to make sure that I comply with all of the rules, a proctor is asigned to me during my review. My proctor was Dr. Nancy Katims, Director of Assessment, Research and Evaluation. OSPI has a procedure that states that any questions that I have that are unanswered should be forwarded to OSPI. In October 2005, I reviewed my oldest daughter's 4th grade WASL. I discovered what I believed to be a test question error. I asked the learned Dr. Katims about this error and she became as inert and inept as worthless bump on a log. I have no idea if she ever carried out her responsibilities under the OSPI Procedure as I received no answer to my question. She did give me a contact at OSPI and when I tried to call them, those worthless bungling bureaucrats at OSPI refused to talk to me citing the RCW that makes it a crime to talk about the WASL. If a parent has the right to review a WASL, why aren't they entitled to answers about test question errors and scoring errors caused by this fraudulent worthless assessment test? I have given permission to both Rep. Santos and Sen. Oemig to review all of the WASLs that both of my daughters have taken, so that the WWG can see and understand why I am so disgusted with the WASL as it is destroying the quality of public education in this state. I don't know if it will be done. Following is the statement that I presented during the public comment period. It was agreed that since I had written it, it would be better that they read it for themselves and they would question me at the next meeting. I hope they grill me hard and I am able to give as good as I get. I also hope they let Asst. Supt. Joe Wilhoft take a few shots at me too. The decisions that are being made by the WWG are going to be 10 to 15 year decisions and will effect the quality of public education in this state for a long time to come. If we want a quality public school system for our children, then we are going to have to roll up our sleeves, put up our dukes and start fighting for our children by demanding valid assessment testing. The 10th grade WASL costs $50 more per student than the ACT or SAT do. If there are approximately 80,000 students taking this test, there is a potential savings of $4 million/year in just this test alone. I'm afraid this won't happen, because large greedy corporations, powerful lobbyists and overpaid consultants have got their hooks into the leadership of our State Legislature with their campaign contributions and political influence. I'm extremely concerned, because I hear consultants telling the WWG what they should do, and no one is speaking for the parents and teachers, except for me. I'm afraid the quality of our childrens' public education is being sold down the river of corporate greed and profits. If the WASL is so great, why doesn't the State Legislature impose it on the private and parochial schools? Instead they impose it on our children, to the benefit of the private and parochial schools, as public confidence in our public school system is being destroyed. If you share my concerns, or even if you don't, you better let your state legislators know now. Tommorrow may be too late.

reported by Nick Daniggelis

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Washington had best start over. These people act without accountability. I'm not sure this will ever have a happy ending, for sure, things will get worse before they get better.