Parents can study for WASL, too

A new Web site launched Thursday is geared at helping parents better understand the WASL exams in a year of changes.

Passing the 10th-grade Washington Assessment of Student Learning tests is required for graduation starting with this year’s sophomores, who start taking the tests Monday.

The WASL tests also will be given to students in third through eighth grades, in many cases for the first time. Younger students start testing in April.

WASL resources

Support for families whose students are taking the WASL tests can be found at

How close are students to meeting the high school WASL graduation requirement? The Herald examined last year’s scores to find out. Read about it in Sunday’s Herald.

“The changes are raising many questions for students and their families,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson said. “We want families to have the information they need to support their students.”

The WASL Resource Center,, is a project of the state superintendent’s office, the Washington State PTA, the Association of Washington School Principals and the Partnership for Learning, a business group.

The WASL tests have been around for about a decade and are the result of a broad push for more accountability and higher achievement in schools.

The tests measure whether students meet state standards in reading and math and, in some grades, writing and science. The tests include a mix of multiple-choice, short-answer and extended-response questions.

Information about how the WASL is organized and scored, tips for preparing for the exam, and a high school practice test are among the Web site’s features.

One parent at Jefferson Elementary School in Everett took a quick tour of the Web site on Thursday, and plans to share the link with others.

“I’m sure a lot of parents would really like to look at it,” said Lisa Estey, secretary of the school’s PTA.

Like many parents of elementary school students, Estey was in the dark with a third-grade son who will take the WASL tests for the first time. “Honestly, I had no idea what they were taking, how they put it together.”

There could be room for improvement, said Peggy Hitterdal, who has a daughter in the third grade at Silver Lake Elementary School in Everett.

For example, while there is a full-length practice test for the high school WASL, there are no mock tests yet for younger grades – something that could give families a more complete picture of what to expect.

“Just those generic statements about ‘reading at home with your child’ … I’d like something more specific,” Hitterdal said. “There’s nothing to help with your first-year kid going into it.”

Meanwhile, opponents of the tests are organizing a “Walk Against the WASL” on Monday in Olympia. It will start at 10:30 a.m. on the steps of the Capitol and end at the state superintendent’s office.

“Despite much debate, the Legislature has failed to pass legislation that will save this year’s 10th-graders from being guinea pigs for this graduation requirement folly,” said Juanita Doyon of Spanaway, director of the Parent Empowerment Network, an anti-WASL group.

Lawmakers closed the 2006 legislative session on Wednesday after making several WASL-related decisions, including keeping the graduation requirement intact.

More than $28 million in extra funding will be earmarked for high-school students who need extra help to pass the tests. The Legislature also approved alternative ways students can meet the graduation requirement if they can’t pass the WASL tests.

Reporter Melissa Slager: 425-339-3465 or

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