District will once again test WASL waters

The Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) exam, in its ninth year as a state-wide tool and one that students in the North Kitsap School District’s class of 2008 will have to pass in order to graduate, began Monday.

NKSD’s fourth, seventh and 10th graders will be taking the test during the next two weeks, falling within a state-mandated window of time to take two-parts each in the areas of science, writing, reading and mathematics. This year marks the first time science testing is required.

NKSD Director of Curriculum and Assessment Wally Lis urged parents to make sure students get breakfast before testing. He also said students should stay relaxed. “The goal is for (the students) is to not overly stress about one single look at the test,” Lis said, “But to understand the importance at the 10th grade level and find the things they might want to seek assistance in.”

Though not yet a requirement to graduate in Washington, WASL scores will appear on every student’s transcripts as mandated by the state legislature, according to NKSD officials. The University of Washington has also begun the process of using WASL scores for admission purposes.

At North Kitsap High School, mandatory WASL testing will occur for only one week. WASL coordinator at NKHS Robin Alberts said that testing at the school on a positive note.

“For the most part, things went really well,” Alberts said. “The proctors are doing a great job and hall monitors are as well.”

While 10th graders take only one test on Monday and Wednesday, on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, they graders take two tests.

“Those will be really busy days,” Alberts added.

This is the final year that WASL testing will be allowed to be given on individual district’s timeline. Next year, the tests will be administered around the state uniformly, according to NK officials. For now, schools can plan around their academic calendars.

“Schools can test the way they want to as long as it falls within the state’s window,” Alberts said.

Several pilot WASL exams will also be given to third, fifth, sixth and eighth graders, in the areas of reading, math and science. The pilot tests do not fall within the mandated WASL window, as some of the tests were taken in March and some are still to come, this month and in May.

Although the pilot WASL exams are not required, North Kitsap School District applied to take them as a way to give “... staff a chance to better align our curriculum to the test, ensuring that our students are receiving the key curriculum information in a timely manner,” wrote Lis in a letter to North Kitsap parents.

One of the pilots that could have a profound impact on Washington education is the reading WASL, taken this year from May 10-21 by all NK’s third, fifth and eighth graders. If that test is deemed successful by the state, it could replace the current ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) exams the students also have to undertake during the year.

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