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I actually want my state to follow the lead of Massachusetts!

You’ve probably read my thoughts on the Washington Assesment of Student Learning test in the recent past. To summarize: 1 set of tests, set at the 8th grade level, taken in the 10th grade (with multiple re-tests available) must be passed in order for the student to get a high school diploma in Washington State. The state school officials are seeing that the tests show how badly their programs aren’t teaching the kids because close to half of them fail it the first time around, so they are planning on ditching the test requirement and implementing a ‘kinder’ set of standards that will still let kids who can’t read, write or do basic arithmetic get their diplomas.

Well, it seems that someone actually took their head out of their ass for long enough to look at the results from other states with the same graduation requirement.


Five years ago, Massachusetts stood where Washington does now.

It had a 10th-grade state test, soon to be a graduation requirement, that, just like the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL), fewer than half of the sophomores passed each year.

School leaders hoped that scores would shoot up once the test counted. Critics predicted disaster. Parents protested, some students boycotted — and others sued.

Then the results came in. And they were so good that states like Washington, which requires its own high-stakes test for graduation beginning in 2008, now look to Massachusetts for reassurance.

In 2001, the first year that Massachusetts sophomores took the test for keeps, the passage rate shot from 49 percent to 68 percent. By the time that class graduated, only 5 percent of seniors didn’t get a diploma because they didn’t pass the MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System).

What, you mean if you set goals for people that they must achieve, they will actually rise to meet them?

Sorry, but after seeing the crappy job that Washington State schools have been doing for the past 20 years or more, I was amazed that someone saw the actual point of teaching.

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