Thursday, November 29, 2007

Should They Walk?

In Wenatchee, a town with a single high school of 2,100 students, the school board will decide whether or not seniors may walk during the graduation ceremony if they have not passed the WASL, the state's test required for a diploma.

In the state of Washington students must complete and pass the required courses, complete a culminating project, and pass the three sections of the state test (the WASL). If a student does not complete all three of these requirements, a diploma will not be earned.

I think the school board should first decide the purpose of the graduation ceremony. Is it simply an all-inclusive ceremonial function for all seniors, or is the ceremony a recognition of accomplishment involving only those receiving a diploma?

The potential difficulty I see arising is if students may walk during the ceremony without having completing all three requirements, which ones should be waived for ceremony participation? Is the state test the one to be set aside for participation? If so, why not the other two?

Currently, 100 seniors (about 20-25% of the senior class) would not be allowed to walk. This could be embarrassing for the students and the school. I guess we'll see how serious individual schools and districts are about holding students entirely accountable for their successes and failures.

I hope the Wenatchee school board decides to allow all to participate or only those meeting the graduation requirements.


Anonymous said...

Wow! I have mixed feelings about this. First, if they have not passed the required course work to graduate, that means no walking. But, the state test? What we should be looking at are the purpose of the state exams. Are they to test actual learning? They don't. Are they to check to see if we are as smart as you? They are apples and oranges, different tests. What is the reason we are killing ourselves and the kids with these tests.
Next, I guess we should remember that for some of these kids, if they don't walk now, they will never do it. this might be the only high point in their entire lives. Did they pass the school requirements? Then they should walk.

Hugh O'Donnell said...

This may seem a little hard corps, but I've seen too many "state tests" self-destruct after some alert educator finds errors, and I'm totally in favor of local control when it comes to graduating students.

When state assessment tests in Oregon are faulty, we say, "Oh, sorry." And we correct them. In Washington, they say, "Oh, sorry. You're out $30,000 cuz we didn't let you graduate, and that's tough tomatoes." (I do not think highly of state "graduation" tests, in case anyone missed it the first time.)

If it ever comes down to that in Oregon, I'll fight it tooth and nail.

Too much centralized bureaucracy = trouble with a capital T.

Teaching kids learning skills via content, and language arts and math skills, is the name of the game. And local districts should be trusted to decide who walks and who doesn't.

I feel sorry for Washington educators. As if NCLB wasn't enough, you have to put up with the Big Brother at the state level.

Hugh aka Repairman