Published Online: November 14, 2006
Published in Print: November 15, 2006, as Students Clear Graduation Hurdle

State Journal

Students Clear Graduation Hurdle

In Washington state, voluntary retakes allow students to pass tests.

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A second try was the charm for about 2,300 Washington State 11th graders who retook the state’s 10th grade assessment last summer, according to results released last week.

They passed test sections that otherwise would have barred them from graduating in spring 2008.

Even so, many students failed, especially those who scored lowest in their first effort.

“I was pleased that there were as many kids as came in and attempted these retakes,” which were voluntary, said Terry Bergeson, the state’s schools chief, who announced last week that more than 10,000 11th graders took the exams a second time in August.

According to state law, starting with the high school class of 2008, students must pass the reading, writing, and mathematics sections of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning in order to graduate.

Students have five chances to take the test in each subject.

But in the August retake of the math test, only about a quarter of the students passed. Students performed better on the writing and reading portions. More than two-thirds of students who retook the writing test passed, and more than half of those who retook the reading test were successful.


State and local officials will study the test outcomes to determine the effectiveness of the local remediation efforts, which have received $28 million in funding from the state legislature through the end of 2007.

Most students who took part in those summer programs, however, did not end up retaking the test.

More than 68,000 students in the class of 2008 have now taken all three parts of the state assessments at least once, out of a total of about 83,000 students in the class.

Of those students who have taken all three parts of the assessment at least once, 87 percent have passed reading, 86 percent have passed writing, and 58 percent have passed math, state officials said.

About 4,800 students in the class of 2008 still haven’t taken any of the 10th grade tests, because of refusal, unexcused absences, or truancy; another 10,000 students have taken one or two parts, but not all three.

Ms. Bergeson said she will resist some calls in the legislature to postpone the graduation requirement.

Vol. 26, Issue 12, Page 19

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