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Parents lining up for WASL bootcamp
By JODY ALLARD
Its no secret that the states WASL test has met with opposition and resistance from parents, teachers and administrators alike.
But, like it or not, the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) has become a part of local childrens daily lives. This years seventh-grade class will be the first required to pass a 10th-grade WASL test to graduate from high school.
The importance of involving parents in the educational process has always been a given, administrators say. But in the face of changing requirements and regulations, it has become vital.
To best cope with a district in flux, administrators have launched an information blitz aimed at providing parents with all they need to know and more about the WASL.
Parents at Federal Way Public Schools Valhalla Elementary School are listening. They say they recognize the need to learn more about this new fixture in their childrens academic careers, although not without a few grimaces.
Speaking off the record Wednesday, parents shared their fears and concerns about the WASL, but all expressed one common theme: The test is here to stay.
Ive never been a fan of the WASL, but its what were stuck with, said one parent of a Valhalla fourth-grader. Honestly, I should learn more about it, since shell have to pass it to graduate from high school.
It was with that need in mind that parents, whether concerned, angry or simply confused by the new requirements, poured into Valhalla Thursday night for a 90-minute workshop, titled Parent to Parent: Success for Every Child.
Created by the state PTA and Partnership for Learning, the latter a non-profit statewide coalition of business and community leaders who support education improvement efforts, the workshop series was prompted by findings from a 2002 survey of 500 parents of public school students in Washington.
According to the survey results, about 60 percent of parents believe students should meet academic standards on the 10th-grade WASL and earn the Certificate of Mastery for graduation.
That number jumps to 82 percent when parents learn that students who dont earn the certificate on the first try will receive academic help and have a number of chances to retake the WASL.
But the survey also found that while most parents have heard of the WASL
and the certificate, almost a third dont know the state has
common academic standards for all children. These standards, known as Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs), are the foundation for all of the states school improvement efforts, including the WASL and Certificate of Mastery.
Information matters, and parents arent getting the basics, said Jennifer Vranek, Partnership for Learnings executive director. These workshops are just the beginning of an extensive outreach effort to parents and caregivers about why were changing our schools and expecting more from our students and what role they must take if were going to be
Valhalla is one of many schools throughout the state that is doing everything it can to educate parents about the WASL and the states new, higher academic standards for students.
When families know whats happening at school, students are more successful, said Washington State PTA president Lisa Bond. But even many of our states most involved parents dont know how curriculum and instruction have changed in the past decade and what their children need to know to succeed in the classroom and after graduation. That makes it difficult for them to be a good support system for their children.
The WASL is administered annually to fourth, seventh and 10th-grade students. It was created to measure new academic standards adopted by the Legislature, with the goal of improving student performance.
Staff writer Jody Allard: 925-5565 and firstname.lastname@example.org