A Resolution of the Seattle Education Association

A Resolution of the Seattle Education Association
Passed at the November 20, 2000 Representative Assembly

Whereas, the unreliability of scoring alone is sufficient grounds to discount all results of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) [According to a Seattle Times investigative report (8/27/00), only one low-paid, temporary scorer skims each assessment, spending approximately 2 l/2 minutes per writing essay and 20 seconds per math essay. But, according to research, 5 scorers are needed to obtain a .84-.92 reliability rating.], and

Whereas, the decades-long attempt to produce fair and accurate performance tests in the field of medicine has ended in failure, and

Whereas, many educators are concerned about the demand for formal logic in the 4th grade WASL (more appropriate for middle school age) and believe this assessment is hostile to children because of this and the ambiguities in the questions, and

Whereas, some educators have reason to believe the guidelines and answers the scorers are using, may be inaccurate, and

Whereas, districts appear to be encouraging "teaching to the test" [The
practice of teaching to a very narrow assessment, instead of subject, corrupts education. The time to administer the assessment robs students and teachers of valuable instruction time. Moreover, in some cases, the entire year leading up to the WASL is spent on preparation, to the exclusion of other valuable learning.], and

Whereas, monetary costs of scoring this assessment are exorbitant -especially when nothing of real worth is gained [Compare $27 for W ASL with $3 to score a standardized achievement test.], and
Whereas, the assessment changes every year which invalidates comparisons, yet scores are compared as if they are equivalent, and

Whereas, the WASL cannot be used as a tool to improve instruction or learning, its major function, because no one, including the classroom teacher, is allowed to see or use the corrected assessment [This violates the Performance-based Education Act of 1993 (ESHB 1209) which states, "The assessment shall be designed so that the results under the assessment system are used by educators as tools to evaluate instructional practices, and to initiate appropriate educational support for students who have not learned the essential academic learning requirements at the appropriate periods in the students' educational development."], and

Whereas, the WASL will be high stakes for students (through the Certificate of Mastery for Graduation), for teachers (through promotion and accountability measures), and for schools and districts (through the A+ Commission recommendations that force compliance), even though it is neither valid nor reliable and inhibits true learning,

Therefore, be it resolved that we, the membership of the Seattle Education Association, call upon the Washington State Legislature to suspend the use of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning until these concerns are rectified. We believe intentions were good in the creation of an assessment to help educators help students. SEA takes a position against the use of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning as the high stakes tool of choice to assess the progress of individual students. Appropriate and effective student assessment must have multiple measures, including classroom evidence, locally chosen assessments and standardized tests aligned with the curriculum. The SEA will: Send a letter written by the SEA President to local newspaper editors outlining our position. Lobby our legislators about our position and urge them to discontinue the use of the WASL. Seek the partnership of the District and the WEA in our lobbying efforts. Have Seattle School teachers testify before the House Education Committee regarding our opinion and our first hand knowledge of the WASL's inherent weaknesses. Work with the District to insure that a variety of locally chosen instruments be used to measure student achievement.