Opinion

As usual, WEA blames the test for poor results

Predictably, the state had no sooner released this year’s WASL results last week than the Washington Education Association was issuing its own press release condemning the test.

Almost makes you think they had the release written ahead of time.

“If we truly care about students and their families, then our state’s leaders will be honest with them and admit that relying on the WASL to decide whether a student graduates is misguided and inappropriate,” WEA President Charles Hasse said.

Oh please. The WASL isn’t the only standard for determining whether or not a student graduates. Presumably he or she has had 12 years worth of tests and exams, homework and class projects leading up to graduation day, and all of those factors — plus attendance and behavior — factor into whether a student has earned their diploma.

Where the WASL comes into play is as a check on whether a student has managed to hurdle all the other obstacles and yet still not learned enough to warrant graduation.

In that sense, it’s as much a test of the teachers and the school system as it is the students. Which is why the teachers’ union reacts to the WASL like a vampire reacts to the light.

Far better, from Hasse’s standpoint, to continue to move students up and through the system regardless of whether they’ve mastered the material. Then once they’re out on their own, it’s their problem. Meanwhile, the teachers — and their union — can congratulate themselves on a job well done.

The WASL, like any standardized test, isn’t perfect. But for the time being it’s the best tool we have for measuring how much knowledge a student has accumulated — which, it would seem, is the whole point of going to school.

Rather than blaming the test for the fact that so many students can’t pass it, let’s start addressing the reasons why they can’t. The students themselves bear most of the responsibility for their performance, but parents and, yes, the teachers also play an important role.

But you’ll never address the problems if your union is more interested in shifting the blame and avoiding responsibility.

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