WASL retakes set for summer vacation

Some South Whidbey sophomores may get their summer vacation interrupted this year. High schoolers who fail to pass the WASL will get another chance this summer, although they won’t find out how they did on the Washington State Assessment of Student Learning until next month.

The state is funding thousands of dollars into summer school programs this year to help students retake the WASL in August.

“We are getting about $8,000 to help teens retake the WASL in August,” said Dan Poolman, business manager for the district.

South Whidbey plans to hire a teacher to help students in areas where they are weak in the WASL and to administer the test during the four-day retake window. Schools won’t get the initial scores until June 8.

“High school principal Mike Johnson and Diane Watson, student services director for the district are developing the specific plan to help South Whidbey sophomores meet the requirements of the WASL,” said Bob Brown, district superintendent.

The class of 2008 is required to pass the math, reading and writing WASL; beginning in 2010 students will also be required to meet the standards in the science WASL.

The opportunity to retake the WASL began this year. All students have a total of four state-funded opportunities to take the WASL.

Beginning with this year’s sophomore class, students are required to meet the standards of the the four-subject test or an equivalent is required for students to graduate.

A student who does not meet one or more of the standards on the WASL may retake the assessment up to four times at no cost to the student. In addition, the student may retake the assessment four additional times if they are enrolled in a high school completion program at a community or technical college. That means anyone who leaves high school and enrolls in a high school completion program could have a total of nine tries to take each portion of the WASL required to earn a diploma.

Students will be given four retakes in any WASL subject they fail and must attempt it twice before trying an alternative to the WASL. The four subjects are; math, reading and expository and persuasive writing. The first window of opportunity for retakes is Aug. 7-10.

Students in grades 10 and 11 in 2005-2006, Classes of 2007 and 2008 are eligible to take the assessments. This includes students who met or did not meet standard in the spring of 2006, did not participate in testing or who have transferred from out-of-state.

State education officials advise students fail more than one section of the WASL, for example, they should focus on the one they’re closest to passing for the August retake, and then spend the next school year preparing to retake the tougher subjects next spring.

Bayview students who were taking the WASL in March, the day two teens died in a car crash in Langley, will have the opportunity to retake the test. Some Bayview students who knew the teens in the car and were emotionally upset. Scott Mauk, the assessment coordinator for Bayview, called the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction assessment office and asked to let his sophomores have a few days to come to grips with the tragic loss of their classmates. Several days later the district worked out a retake schedule.

“Five students retook the reading and writing assessment the week of April 24,” Mauk said.

Mauk is a member of the state advisory committee to alternative assessment s to the WASL.

Mauk says his committee hopes to convince lawmakers to let students select an alternative assessment to the WASL from the beginning and not after they have failed it twice.

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