Letters to the Editor

Logic lacking in the WASL

The Jan. 8 editorial (“WASL shows what it can do”) regarding the virtues of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning in relation to student performance at the college level used some interesting logic. Basically, it said that students who scored well on the WASL tended to perform better in college placement tests and classes. Which is sort of like saying that really fast runners tend to do better in track races, or that really tall people who work on their jumping ability are more likely to be able to dunk a basketball.

The fact is that smart students who work hard will succeed in school without regard to the tools by which those things are measured. For state education officials to grasp at such straws as claiming the mental gifts and hard work of the students as validation that a flawed test is working seems to be indicative that there isn’t sufficient real justification for the WASL’s continued use. Another possibility is that education officials are trying to say (without saying it) that a tool that is supposed to be used as an assessment is really succeeding as stealth pseudo-curriculum. Are you comfortable with either situation? I’m not.

More common standardized tests that are graded objectively (the WASL can’t be), use far less classroom time and cost far less money would return even better results. Unfortunately, I’ve been down this road, and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson apparently already has her mind made up; why cloud it with facts or logic when logically-challenged rhetoric is so much easier for some to grasp and dispense?

Richard J. Cook

Federal Way

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