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					2                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Real Change
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          October 25 - 31, 2006




                                                                                        Testing and Terror
                                                   The high-stakes testing of the WASL further marginalizes disadvantaged students
Let’s be clear: one                            By DINORAH FLORES                              2004-2005 passing percentages prove                                  What are some of the consequences
                                                      Guest Writer                            as much. In the Math portion of the                             for not passing the WASL? With so
    way the WASL                                                                              test, 59 percent of Asian students and                          many students failing, the pressure this


                               T
   is unfair is that               his Friday, the Seattle Young Peo-                         56 percent of white students passed,                            test builds up in students could lead to
                                   ple’s Project will stage a haunted                         respectively. By contrast, only 31                              the high school dropout rate increasing,
     private school                house showing the frightening                              percent of American Indian students                             which would prevent students from
students, who are              implications of the Washington state                           passed, 26 percent of Hispanic/Latino                           pursuing their desired and needed
    predominantly              Assessment of Student Learning,                                students passed, and 23 percent of the                          education and, in many cases, lead
                               which will be a high school graduation                         Black community passed. The scores                              them into the criminal justice system.
       white, don’t            requirement starting with the class of                         keep decreasing: 30 percent of low-                             Why? Without the proper education or
   have to take it,            2008. The “WASL Haunted High” will                             income youth passed, 13 percent of                              job credentials, the fallback support for
                               use gory drama to explain how the                              English Language Learners passed,                               young people will be the streets. As a
    whereas public             exam puts low-income students and                              and 7 percent of special-education                              result, our communities will be denied
  school students,             students of color in a line of failure that                    students passed the WASL.                                       the opportunity to better themselves
    who are more-              will have a huge negative effect on the                            These low scores take many by                               and the people in them. This will only
                               rest of their lives — and on society as                        surprise, but they shouldn’t. To begin                          continue the ongoing experience of
 often low-income              a whole.                                                       with, the WASL is not translated to                             limitations and oppression in low-in-
  and of color, do.                The event is a kick-off for our Edu-                       any other language, making it difficult                          come communities and communities of
                               cation Justice Campaign. To prevent                            for ELL students to understand and                              color. If the WASL stays as a high school
                               the education system from punishing                            be able to pass the test. Also, some                            graduation requirement, it will become
                               low-income students and students of                            of the cultural references made in the                          a terror not just for the students taking
                               color for its own failings, our campaign                       test do not take into consideration all                         it, but for the whole future.
                               seeks to decouple the WASL from                                the cultures each student represents.                                Something must be done. By de-
                               graduation requirements.                                       Also, public schools in which low-in-                           coupling the WASL from graduation
                                   Let’s be clear: one way the WASL is                        come students and students of color                             requirements, we can expand the
                               unfair is that private school students,                        predominate receive less funding and                            opportunities of all students. In par-
                               who are predominantly white, don’t                             resources than predominantly wealthy,                           ticular, it would mean that low-income
                               have to take it, whereas public school                         white public schools.                                           students and students of color are given
                               students, who are more often                                                                                                               a chance to succeed. For
                               low-income and of color, do.                                                                                                               young people, school should
                               The WASL is incredibly dif-                                                                                                                be a place of growth, not a
                               ficult for all those required                                                                                                               house of horrors. ■
                               to take it. Last year, only 42
                               percent of all 10th-graders                                                                                                                                                                     Dinorah Flores is
                               across the state passed all                                                                                                                                                                     a 12th-grader at
                               three sections of the test.                                                                                                                    [Scary]                                          the Center School
                               That indicates that 58 percent                                                                                                                 WASL Haunted Highschool                          and a volunteer
                               of the class of 2008 won’t                                                                                                                     Fri., Oct. 27, 7-10 p.m.                         with Seattle Young
                               graduate. Yet wealthy stu-                                                                                                                     Youngstown Cultural Arts                         People’s Project, a
                               dents and white students can                                                                                                                   Center, 4408 Delridge Way                        youth-led commu-
                               avoid the obstacle, whereas                                                                                                                    SW. Free for youth under 19;                     nity organization.
                               low-income students and                                                                                                                        $5 suggested donation other-                     For more informa-
                               students of color can’t.                                                                                                                       wise. Information: call (206)                    tion, go to www.
                                   The way the WASL is ad-                                                                                                                    860-9606 or info@sypp.org                        sypp.org.
                               ministered is also unfair. The


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