19 April 2007

Deal or No Deal

Our state legislature is wrapping up its longer-than-usual session. I believe that Sunday is supposed to be the last official day of business, but those involved would really like to be finished sometime tomorrow. There is a giant-sized unresolved issue still out there: whether or not to delay using 1 or more of the WASL tests as a graduation requirement. The governor has threatened to veto any bill which includes the reading and writing exams. Many school districts don't like this idea---although passage rates are very high across the state. These districts are concerned that it unfairly penalizes ELL students and students of poverty. These kids do not constitute the majority of those who haven't passed. Personally, I think reading and writing should stand.

But I'm going to be a bit more radical here: the requirements for math (class of 2008) and science (class of 2010) should stand as is. I admit that these passage rates are in the toilet---moreso for science than math---but as long as we keep delaying the requirements, no one (teachers, parents, students) is going to take them seriously. Kids are going to be leaving our schools without a solid set of skills that they can demonstrate.

There are already some alternative pathways to meeting the standards other than passing the test. Kids have more than one way to show what they know. It just doesn't make sense to me to excuse any of us from that process any longer.

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