Mar 2, 2008

WASL expenses set to rise

A week before March madness approaches again, a fun story: some of those classic WASL questions have to go.
The state superintendent's office estimates that the cost of administering the Washington Assessment of Student Learning could jump by $15 million to $25 million in 2009.

That's on top of the $22 million originally budgeted.

The increase is being driven mainly by a higher demand for testing because of the federal No Child Left Behind education law, said Joe Willhoft, an assistant state superintendent of public instruction in Olympia.

Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, and chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, said paying $47 million for one year of testing is not an option.

Instead, state leaders are pressing for changes they say would shave millions off the cost and cut the amount of time spent testing without diminishing the accuracy of the WASL.

The savings would come primarily from chopping the number of open-ended, thought-provoking questions and delaying some extra features. And even then, the tests would still cost an extra $15 million or so.
The WASL takes eight days, and uses four booklets (reading, writing, math, and science). Even at today's lower rates, it costs the state roughly $70 per student to assess the WASL, assuming that student takes all four exams. Meanwhile, the SAT costs a student $43, while the PSAT costs $12. Is either any less valid than a proposed "mini-WASL?" Maybe it really is time to exorcise our Concorde effect demons and scrap the WASL.

Update 3/5: KOMO has more, noting that now, a bill to slice the WASL has passed the House. Meanwhile, the Senate wants to bring back end-of-course exams... Not while Gregoire's in office, methinks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For gosh sakes, YES it's time to scrap the WASL. And the decision at this point should be made on cost an cost alone.

But even if cost were not a factor, shouldn't we measure basic skills first with tests like the ITBS and the California Achievement Tests before we go looking at "higher level thinking" and other such nonsense with the high-falutin' WASL?