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UPDATED: Goodbye WASL, hello WCAP?

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on Jan. 21, 2009 at 10:13 am with No Comments »
January 21, 2009 10:13 am

As expected, new state schools superintendent Randy Dorn unveiled a plan to get rid of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning in favor of a computerized test.


Here’s an early version of the AP story:

Washington’s new superintendent of public instruction wants to replace the Washington Assessment of Student Learning with two separate tests, and use a computerized testing system.

Superintendent Randy Dorn said Wednesday that he wants to start using the new tests next year. One test would cover grades 3-8, and the second would cover high school.

Dorn says a computerized testing system will result in faster test results and lower costs.

Dorn was elected in November after campaigning against the WASL. His plans still have to be approved by the Legislature and Gov. Chris Gregoire.

More details below in the press release:

Supt. Dorn announces plan to replace the WASL

New tests will be shorter, computerized and provide more timely feedback

OLYMPIA — State Superintendent Randy Dorn unveiled his plans for a new state assessment system beginning in 2010, including the replacement of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning. Superintendent Dorn released details of his plan at a press conference in his offices on Wednesday morning.

"I was elected on a promise to replace the WASL with a fairer, less expensive system of measuring student learning. This announcement today affirms my intention to do what’s right for our kids and our schools and to deliver on that promise as quickly as is possible," said Dorn, who was sworn in as the state’s 15th superintendent of public instruction on January 13.

Because of time constraints, Dorn said no changes can be made to the WASL during this school year. However, beginning in spring 2010, the state will replace the WASL with two new tests: the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) in grades 3-8 and the High School Proficiency Exams (HPSE).

The new state assessment system will be called the Washington Comprehensive Assessment Program (WCAP). Dorn has six goals related to state testing:

Shorten the tests

Reduce the amount of time students spend on written responses

Return scores more quickly

Increase the use of technology (statewide computer testing)

Provide more diagnostic information (strengths and weaknesses) to teachers/families

Minimize costs

Dorn’s plan calls for computer-delivered reading, math and science tests to be available as an option to school districts beginning in 2010 with the goal of statewide implementation by 2012. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) will look closely at the feasibility of computerized scoring of the writing test. That would further reduce costs.

"We need a state testing system that makes sense to teachers, students and families," Dorn said. "Our tests need to be tied to technology and provide immediate feedback to teachers so they can better assist their students. Computerizing the tests will also require far less resources, both in time and money."

The grades 3-8 Measurements of Student Progress tests will be offered twice each school year, beginning in the fall of 2010. This allows students the opportunity to show proficiency more than once and provides diagnostic and educational growth information to better support individualized teaching plans.

The High School Proficiency Exams will be shorter and contain significantly fewer extended answer questions. Computerizing the tests will also allow a much faster turnaround on results, allowing students, teachers and families more timely information on those students who need to be retested. Additionally, computerizing the tests will save school districts significant resources in time, money and staffing when administering the tests.

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