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WASL math requirement likely delayed until 2013

North Kitsap High School students who struggle with numbers can relax — until 2013, that is.

Following a push from Gov. Christine Gregoire and a Legislative vote this week, the Washington State Assessment of Student Learning math requirement was likely delayed for five years. (Gregoire needs has yet to sign the bill.)

Prior to the decision, the class of 2008 was expected to pass the mathematics, writing and reading portions of the WASL exam in order to graduate from high school. Statewide, 2008 seniors’ math scores were dismal with only 51 percent making the grade.

The North Kitsap School District followed suit at 53.5 percent, according to 2005-06 statistics.

Current juniors are not completely off the WASL hook and still must pass the reading and writing portions in order to receive their high school diplomas.

Students weren’t the only ones sighing in relief. NKHS principal Kathy Prasch said she was also pleased with the Legislature’s call on the issue.

“I am pleased with their decision,” Prasch said. “It’s a call for all of us in education to encourage students to take more math. The more math students take in high school, the better.”

“Math is a very pivotal course of study,” she added. “I believe students who do well in math have a better chance to succeed in college.”

North Kitsap School District WASL coordinator Dixie Husser said while students aren’t required to pass the math portion of the WASL exam for graduation in 2008, they still must to take the exam.

“It’s still a high stakes test,” Husser said.

Students failing to pass the math portion of the WASL exam can graduate by taking additional math classes instead of passing that portion of the test.

“Nationwide, math is a difficult subject for students to learn,” Prasch said. “The delay gives us a bit of time to make sure kids are successful.”

High school students participated in WASL testing from April 17-20 at North Kitsap High School. Results from the reading, writing, and math portions of the exams are expected in mid-June

Results from the science portion, which are not required for graduation in 2008, are expected in August. Science was to be required as a 2010 graduation requirement but is also expected to be pushed until 2013. High school students were tested on the math and science portions of the exam last week.

“The students showed amazing focus,” Prasch said of “WASL Week.” “They took the test as if their graduation from high school was dependent on it. I was very impressed with the studious atmosphere. They put all they had into it.”

Husser agreed with Prasch’s assessment.

“Students took the test seriously. I would say that 80-85 percent of the students taking the exam were pleased with the preparation they received throughout the years for the WASL exam,” Husser said. “

For those who didn’t pass a particular portion of the WASL, classes will be offered in the summer by the district.

North Kitsap School District students in grades three through eight also are currently participating in WASL testing through May 4.

Husser said she believes testing at the junior high and elementary school levels is a valuable tool not only for instructors, but for the students themselves as it essentially grooms younger students for the exam they will take during their sophomore year of high school.

“The WASL is a benchmark test. If students are meeting standards of where they need to be as third and fourth graders, it’s kind of a building block,” Husser said. “Learning the test strategies is so important and students are learning it at a young age.”

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