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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 10 May 2006

This year's high school sophomores will find out how they did on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning before they leave for summer break, but everyone else will have to wait until September to find out how much progress the class of 2008 is making toward meeting the state's new graduation requirement.

The state school superintendent's office will be able to announce subject-by-subject, statewide WASL scores in June but won't have enough verified information to say how each school did or how many students passed all three sections of the test.

"We have been having discussions about what we are going to be able to share, or not be able to share," said Kim Schmanke, spokesperson for the state superintendent's office.

The superintendent is required by law to report scores to students by about June 10 so those who fail can enroll in summer courses and, if they want, retake the test in August. School districts also will find out how many of their students fell short so they can plan summer programs.

But the information given districts in June won't be ready for the public until schools have a chance to make sure students have been identified accurately. Also, 10th-grade students who take the special education version of the WASL may need to wait until later in the summer to get their scores.

Schmanke said it is better to delay public release of the school-by-school figures because officials need more time to search for possible problems in their school rosters, such as double counting or eliminating students who have left the school. Students sometimes get counted twice if their names are a little different on one part of the test than another, such as listing a middle initial instead of a full middle name.

Sophomores can retake the WASL as many as four times. They also can graduate if they show their skill through one of several alternative means still under development. But they must first take the WASL twice.

The state superintendent's office usually takes about a month after getting WASL data from its testing contractor in late July before announcing final results in late August or early September. But many expected to get statewide results earlier this year because this year's 10th-graders will be the first class to face the new graduation requirements.

"A lot of us were under the assumption that the results would be available," said state Rep. Dave Quall, D-Mount Vernon, chair of the HouseEducation Committee.

Pete Bylsma, director of research and evaluation in the superintendent's office, said the difference between the preliminary and final statewide results in past years has not been more than 1 percentage point. But the changes can seem larger at smaller schools and in smallerdistricts,Schmanke added.

State Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, who chairs the Early Learning, K-12 & Higher Education Committee, said that if the preliminary results are accurate within a percentage point, she'd like them earlier.

"I think everybody understands that we all want to have those scores early enough to make decisions," she said.

McAuliffe and others are anxious to see whether passage rates go up enough to ease fears that it's too soon to require the WASL for graduation.

In 2005, 46.9 percent of Washington10th-graders who took the WASL passed all three sections. Beginning with the class of 2008, students will need to pass the math, writing and reading sections of the 10th grade test to earn a high school diploma.

— The Associated Press

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