The state legislature is once again considering changing the tests our kids must pass to graduate. Please, TAKE ACTION. No outreach to families has been done, so you might want to touch base with your senator and representatives on the following questions:
1. Should the state drop the end-of-course exams in math and science and return to comprehensive exams – 1 in English language arts; 1 in math; 1 in science. These comprehensive exams would be taken in 11th grade.
2. Should the state keep the end-of-course exams? Students take these exams after they complete the course. They include algebra, geometry and biology. Most kids take them between grades 8 and 10.
3. Should passing the exams be required to graduate?
4. If exams are required for graduation, does it matter whether it is an end-of-course exam or a comprehensive exam?
The Senate is considering a bill that would stop end-of-course exams and return to comprehensive exams. These exams would be required for graduation and would be taken in 11th grade. The state schools superintendent is concerned about giving kids enough time for retakes and does not support Senate Bill 5587. Here is the bill report; it includes a summary of testimony.
The new English language arts and math comprehensive exams would be aligned to the new Common Core State Standards and would measure career and college readiness. In the near future, the science exam would be aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards, presuming the state adopts them.
Washington State PTA has not argued a particular point. We have a resolution against making a comprehensive exam a requirement for graduation, but that has been interpreted as applying to a singular multi-discipline test, not several comprehensive tests. We also ask that alternatives to testing be allowed, such as collection of evidence.
Several years ago Washington State PTA actively lobbied to drop the old comprehensive WASL and adopted the following short-term position. It is no longer binding (it was not turned into a resolution or added to our legislative principles) but it does reflect association thoughts at that time.
2009-2010 No. 3 issue: Washington State Assessment System Improvements
Improve the Washington State Assessment System to make it more efficient and focused on student learning, while preserving high standards. This shall be accomplished by requiring the assessment system to:
1) provide nationally comparable individual student progress data, 2) provide diagnostic assessments to determine student needs, 3) measure individual student growth in a manner that is reliable and valid, 4) provide results quickly so that they can be used to guide instruction during the current school year.
The assessment system must also be cost and time efficient, while continuing to meet education testing requirements from the federal government.
WA state PTA