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Gov. Locke Advocates Reform Of Statewide Student Assessment

State's top executive calls for return to the basics

Gov. Gary Locke will support further education reform and focused on a proposed change to the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL).

"I propose we limit the WASL to the basics: reading, writing, math and science," Locke said in remarks before the Issaquah Schools Foundation and the Association of Colleges for Teacher Education at two separate events today. "I also propose dropping the current WASL exam for listening and discontinue expanding the WASL assessments. That means eliminating proposed WASL testing for social studies, arts, health and fitness."

The governor stated changes to the WASL would put Washington's educational assessment system more in line with federal standards. Current federal law now requires the state to test in reading and math every year in grades three through eight and to test students in science at least once in elementary, middle and high schools.

"We currently risk developing a state assessment system that is too complex and too time-consuming. It is important that we stay out of the way of the progress we are trying so hard to make in the classroom," Locke said.

The governor stressed that while social studies, arts and health are critical aspects of children's education, school districts can and do assess students' knowledge of these subjects.

"We should take a lesson from the federal approach. Let us focus on ensuring our children are learning the basics at each grade level and making our schools accountable," Locke said.

The WASL is a statewide assessment designed to measure whether public school students have mastered the state's Essential Academic Learning Requirements in reading, writing, listening and mathematics in grades four, seven and 10. The WASL is administered each spring and is comprised of multiple-choice, short-answer and essay questions.

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