School & District Management

Washington State Victor Expected to Tackle Test

By Michele McNeil — November 14, 2008 2 min read

The much-debated standardized test in Washington state may be headed for a major overhaul now that Randy Dorn, a union official who has served as a teacher and principal, is replacing a three-term incumbent to become the superintendent of public instruction.

After narrowly edging out current chief Terry Bergeson in a nonpartisan race that wasn’t decided until two days after the Nov. 4 election, Mr. Dorn said one of his top priorities would be revamping the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, or WASL.

In fact, the WASL became the centerpiece of his campaign; he declared it a “deeply flawed test the public has lost faith in.”

“We’ve gone way too far. The WASL is too long—let’s make it simpler, shorter, and diagnostic,” Mr. Dorn said in an interview this week. He noted that students spend two weeks on the test, which is administered in grades 3-8 and grade 10 to meet requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

“That really resonates with parents,” Mr. Dorn said.

13bergeson dorn

Revamping the WASL, which would require legislative approval for signficant changes, is the most prominent of his priorities as he prepares to take office. Mr. Dorn also said he wants to change the school funding system, improve the dropout rate, and increase access to early education.

In addition, he intends to push policies such as career and technical education. And he is willing to say that although math is a crucial subject, not every student should take Algebra 2—a requirement that has become an emerging trend in many states. Washington State requires it as part of math credits, although there is an opt-out provision.

Randy Dorn, above, will take over as Washington state’s schools chief, after defeating incumbent Terry Bergeson, below, in a hard-fought campaign. The state’s standardized-testing program was a central issue in the election.

Mr. Dorn is a former state legislator who in 1993 helped draft and pass a crucial piece of education reform legislation that ultimately led to state standards and a state test. He also has been an elementary and middle school teacher and elementary school principal.

He is leaving a job as the executive director of Public School Employees of Washington, a union that represents classroom aides, transportation workers, and other nonteacher school employees.

In his election victory, Mr. Dorn won 52 percent of the vote to Ms. Bergeson’s nearly 48 percent—a difference of about 120,000 votes. Mr. Dorn also got help and campaign donations from the 60,000-member Washington Education Association.

After she conceded the election, Ms. Bergeson told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “I told [Mr. Dorn] I’d do whatever I could to help him in this transition. I’m happy people gave me the opportunity to do this [job] for 12 years.”

A version of this article appeared in the November 19, 2008 edition of Education Week as Washington State Victor Expected to Tackle Test

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

CCLC Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Customer Support Specialist, Tier 1
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Customer Support Specialist, Tier 1
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Customer Support Specialist, Tier 1
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion New Resource Tracks School System Reopening
The Return to Learn Tracker identifies the current instructional model of all regular public school districts with three or more schools.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School & District Management San Francisco School Board Pauses Renaming 44 Schools, Promises to Consult Historians
The renaming of 44 schools in the San Francisco Unified School District is apparently being put on hold after intense blowback.
Greg Keraghosian
1 min read
A pedestrian walks below a sign for Dianne Feinstein Elementary School in San Francisco, on Dec. 17, 2020. The San Francisco Unified School District put the renaming of 44 schools, including Dianne Feinstein Elementary School, on hold after local and national blowback.
A pedestrian walks below a sign for Dianne Feinstein Elementary School in San Francisco, on Dec. 17, 2020. The San Francisco Unified School District put the renaming of 44 schools, including Dianne Feinstein Elementary School, on hold after local and national blowback.<br/><br/>
Jeff Chiu/AP
School & District Management Superintendent Who Led During COVID-19 School Shutdowns Gets Top Honors
Michelle Reid of Washington state's Northshore district, one of the very first to close schools last March, was named National Superintendent of the Year.
3 min read
Michelle Reid, superintendent of the Northshore district in Washington
Michelle Reid, the superintendent of the Northshore district in Washington, was named National Superintendent of the Year.
courtesy of AASA, the School Superintendents Association
School & District Management Is Lunchtime the 'Weak Link' in School Reopening Plans?
It's risky when students are inside and unmasked, experts say. Here are five ways to mitigate that risk and make in-school meals safer.
11 min read
Elementary students in Brownsville, Texas, eat a socially distanced lunch in the school cafeteria. Experts say there are ways to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19 even when kids take their masks off to eat.
Elementary students in Brownsville, Texas, eat a socially distanced lunch in the school cafeteria. Experts say there are ways to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19 when kids take their masks off to eat.
Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald via AP