Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Step up to WASL math requirement (Or snap out of the madness!)

March 18, 2009 at 8:39 AM

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WASL was sold on the premise that too many 10th graders were graduating with 4th grade level skills. Well, when 90% of kids "pass" the WASL, that's EQUIVALENT TO PERFORMING AT THE LEVEL OF THE AVERAGE 4TH GRADER. The bell curve is not a problem, it is a fact of life. Definding "success" as performing with the top 10%, and then requiring that every child be successful is a formula for disaster. We can only give children an opportunity, and grade them at WHATEVER level they perform at. The next step is a government that "assesses" you at your job, and requires 10% improvement every year, and requires you to meet an arbitrary "standard" every year or be fired. This is no way to run a free society. We read 1984 and brave new world in the 1970s and joked "they're never really going to do that". But with WASL and standards, that's exactly what we're doing to our kids, and us grown-ups are next.


Guest columnist

Step up to WASL math requirement, don't hide from it

Both houses of the Washington Legislature took the easy way out by voting to eliminate the need for 10th-grade students to pass the math portion of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, argues guest columnist Christopher Eide. He suggests state educators look to the example of Massachusetts for a formula for success in math education.

Special to The Times

In 1999, 33 percent of Washington's 10th-graders passed the Washington Assessment of Student Learning math section; that rate steadily improved until 2004-05 when the scores flattened out around 49 percent.

After no real evidence of progress in the past four years, what do you do? Do you look for another solution, or just hide it away, move on and pretend that it didn't happen? Washington lawmakers are poised to choose the latter rather than look for help.

As it turns out, a highly similar state chose the former. Massachusetts has accepted innovation and has seen its 10th-grade math scores more than double over the past decade.

In the most recent Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) test, Massachusetts was allowed to participate as its own country and it scores ranked in the top 5 in the world. But as it turns out, that state is not much different from ours.......


Bothell, WA




March 18, 2009 at 8:34 AM

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Mr Eide, the WASL is doodoo. 20% of 10th graders got a perfect writing score, but almost nobody gets a perfect score in any other grade. What is the point of a test that asks kids to perform task most adult COLLEGE grads cannot do on demand?

Education is not an arms race where government can set an set-in-stone goal that every child will be ready for 4 year university OR ELSE. Most of the 4th grade test cannot be solved with elementary arithmetic, some cannot even be solved with EALRs up to 10th grade, or what I learned at MIT. Forcing "continuous improvement" is the basis for failed outcome/performance/standards-based education reform. My kids don't need more requirements, more days in the year, more science, or more of ANYTHING. The biggest problem they've had growing up in the 90s-00s was the !@#$%% EDUCATION REFORM CRAP. 1st grade mile run times. Write 10 sentences around 10 words sorted in alphabetic order THE FIRST DAY FIRST DAY HOMEWORK. Investigations math that deliberately does not teach carry or borrow. Whole/Hole language that does not teach how to read. Connected/Crap Mathematics Project that forbids printing pi r squared and how to add decimal numbers from the student book. Core/Crap Plus that doesn't teach how to solve simple algebra but asks "Is Jim mentally retarded if his IQ is 70?"

We have too many "smar"t people who can't tell the sheep from the Shinola instead of truly demonstrating "critical thinking". This is MADNESS.

Now that we've slaid WASL because it was stupid, it's time to realize the ESHB 1209 Education Reform bill that was built around WASL IS STUPID.

Brier, WA


March 18, 2009 at 8:05 AM

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The article hints that Massachusetts incorporates the scores of its parochial private, and charter schools into its test score data. This is not the case in our State. Massachusetts has always had a much higher number of parochial schools than does Washington, And it has allowed the incorporation of charter schools. So Mr. Eide will need to provide us with more precise statistics to see how the gains in the Massachusetts public school sector compare to the scores in our public schools.

Mr. Eide teaches in a well funded district that hires applicants who have graduate degrees from Harvard. He is probably unaware of the sea of mediocrity elsewhere in the more poorly funded districts. So maybe he could do a traveling show and explain to us why teaching math as a tool to solve WASL problems is a better methodology than teaching math as a science unto itself. And would someone please explain why every student must spend years on quadratic equations and little time on statistics.

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