Nixing state’s biology exam results prudent – Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

Posted: June 26, 2017 at 6:42 pm

This post was added by Dr P. Richardson

Passing Washington states standardized high school graduation tests has been incredibility and unnecessarily difficult.

Students, and their teachers, have been asked to hit a moving target for years. The tests seem to change at a whim.

And thats why the Legislature last week agreed to allow students in the class of 2017 and beyond to earn a high school diploma without meeting the statewide testing requirements in biology. If not, more than 2,000 students would not have graduated. A vote to formalize the deal agreed to by legislators will be taken this week.

Under the deal made by lawmakers, other seniors who failed standardized tests in English language arts and mathematics also could get a diploma if they file an appeal to show theyre proficient in those subjects, according to The Tacoma News Tribune.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, himself a former legislator, said the agreement was necessary because he believes the current tests are a poor measure of whether students are ready to graduate.

Ultimately, more students will graduate, because they can demonstrate high-school proficiency in more diverse ways, instead of the one-size-fits-all test, Reykdal said.

This seems reasonable under the circumstances. But the Legislature, once it gets past the current budget-approval crisis, needs to establish testing standards that are consistent from year to year.

Lets stick to the plan approved by the Legislature four years ago.

Its been a roller coaster of testing since the 1990s. The Legislature approved a plan for accountability and testing using the WASL (Washington Assessment of Student Learning). When too many students could not pass the test, changes were made. Then more changes were made. Then it was given the heave ho and replaced again and new better test was put in its place.

Common Core is the current standard adopted a few years ago.

If this standard is the proper standard in the view of Reykdal and other education experts, lets figure out how to measure student success and then use that as a graduation requirement.

The next generation of tests, and the way they are implemented, should continue to be adjusted to ensure they are relevant for all students and they measure correctly. Its also important to provide measurement options beyond tests for those who know the material but are simply lousy test takers.

The decision to abandon the biology test results, given the problems, is prudent but the action shouldnt be seen as an invitation to do away with testing altogether.

Editorials are the opinion of the Union-Bulletin's Editorial Board. The board is composed of Brian Hunt, Rick Eskil, James Blethen and Alasdair Stewart

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Nixing state's biology exam results prudent - Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

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