With math out of equation, most kids pass WASL

Nearly 87 percent of the state’s juniors have passed the WASL reading and writing exams they need to graduate, according to preliminary test score data released Friday.

They are part of the class of 2008, the first class that must pass the Washington Assessment of Student Learning reading and writing exams to get a diploma.

Among those who have taken the WASL, 95.6 percent of students have passed reading and 96.3 have passed writing, according to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“We have made some substantial gains,” said Terry Bergeson, the state schools’ superintendent.

Some students in the class of 2008 have not taken the WASL.

Some recent immigrants, special education students, students who are well behind in credits and students moving from another state are part of the group scheduled to graduate in 2008 without WASL scores.

Statewide, 65,316 juniors have passed the reading WASL and 5,719 have failed. The status of another 3,882 is under review.

There were 5,197 more juniors who passed the reading exam in the spring.

In writing, 63,254 have passed writing and 5,589 have not. The status of 3,882 other students is under review. In the spring, another 6,146 students passed the writing exam.

Numbers from individual districts were not released Friday. Nor were statistics broken down by poverty levels, race or whether students were in special education.

The state also released results from this year’s sophomore class. Pass rates were 85 percent in reading and 88 percent in writing. The writing score among sophomores was slightly higher than that of juniors.

“In writing and reading, we know what we need to do,” Bergeson said. “You can look at the numbers.”

Passing rates on the math WASL remain a concern.

The pass rate among juniors rose form 53.8 percent to 61.7 percent in math. Of those who have taken the math WASL, 74.3 percent have passed.

The Legislature recently delayed the math WASL as a graduation requirement until 2013 because of poor scores and concern the school system wasn’t able to provide students the skills they need in time.

If math were still a graduation requirement, more than 21,000 students would be at risk of not earning a diploma and records are unresolved for another 6,800.

“We still have obviously a problem in mathematics,” Bergeson said.

The Everett School District expects its scores to closely mirror that of the state, said Terry Edwards, curriculum director.

Math continues to be the focus, even if it’s now on the back burner as a graduation requirement.

“It’s a huge concern. We’re putting our money where our problem is,” he said, noting the hire of several math coaches districtwide and the addition of support classes.

“We’re taking it as (if) math is a requirement now, because if we wait three years, nothing will change.”

School districts are now looking at the high school results and are preparing letters to parents with individual student scores.

Bergeson said the reports should arrive within the week by mail or in backpacks from individual schools districts.

“Those who haven’t yet passed need to know how they did so that they can get started now on what they need to do,” Bergeson said.

That could include registering for the August retake, mapping out what courses they should take next fall or summer school, she said.

Herald reporter Melissa Slager contributed to this story.

Passing rates on the spring WASL for the class of 2008 – the first class that must pass reading and writing to graduate. Math was delayed to 2013.

Reading86.8 percent

Writing86.7 percent

Math61.7 percent

School districts will send students in grades 10, 11 and 12 their individual WASL score reports in the coming week. Students who fail a portion of the exam and want to retake it in August can sign up at www.k12.wa.us/waslregistration.

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