A study by a national group concludes that the Washington Assessment of Student Learning has contributed to student achievement in Washington state and has helped teachers focus on state education goals.
An in-depth exploration of six schools in six districts across the state by the Center on Education Policy, based in Washington, D.C., found that teachers think the extended-response format of the WASL has helped students do a better job of explaining the thinking behind their answers and become better writers. Educators also credit the exam with bringing extra help to students who may have been ignored in the past, such as those learning English for the first time and students in special education.
The new findings run counter to those from a recent statewide survey by the Washington Education Association, the states largest teachers union. Teachers responding said that the WASL takes too much time away from classroom learning, and that the results come too late and are not particularly helpful. Students are scheduled to try out new statewide tests to replace the WASL next spring.
A version of this article appeared in the August 12, 2009 edition of Education Week