Math WASL requirement could be waived

  • Sarah Koenig<br>Enterprise writer
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 11:24am

Students in the classes of 2008, 2009 and 2010 may get a break on the math portion of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, or WASL, which 44 percent of the state’s juniors have failed.

But only if a new proposal makes it through the state Legislature this spring.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Terry Bergeson, head of the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, will propose to lawmakers that graduating seniors have a temporary alternative to the math test. They announced their plan Monday, Nov. 27. The next day, the state Board of Education voted to support the delay.

Currently, passing all three sections of the WASL is required to graduate.

Under the proposal, students who fail the math WASL would take rigorous math classes until they graduate or pass the test. Those who take the courses but fail the WASL can still graduate.

Taking the test or an approved alternative would be required annually.

The option of allowing students to graduate without passing the math WASL would remain in place for three years — for the graduating classes of 2008, 2009 and 2010.

“I am very pleased that Gov. Gregoire and Superintendent Bergeson are approving an alternative for students who have not yet met standard on the math WASL — an alternative that allows those students to continue taking math classes to graduate,” said Everett School District superintendent Carol Whitehead.

Whitehead was one of several Snohomish County superintendents who last month proposed requiring students to take and pass a math class their senior year if they hadn’t yet passed the math WASL.

“We want to hold to high standards while ensuring that students are not penalized,” Whitehead said. “A system to ensure that students learn to high standards has not been in place.”

Gregoire said in a statement that students who graduate high school without meeting competitive standards show up in remedial math courses in colleges and universities and that the state has a duty to prepare them.

“I want to let students and parents know that we are listening to their concerns and we believe this plan promotes math skills without penalizing responsible, hard-working students and teachers,” she said in a statement.

Washington Learns, a report spearheaded by Gregoire that was released last month, made other recommendations to improve math. They include the selection of three math curricula that all districts in the state must choose from.

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