Class of 2009: 93 percent pass WASL, graduate on time

June 23, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

State average is 72 percent

This year’s Issaquah School District graduates are ahead of their statewide peers when it comes to graduating on time and meeting state requirements.

State Superintendent Randy Dorn announced some preliminary graduation information regarding students in the class of 2009. It is the second year students have been required to pass the reading and writing Washington Assessment of Student Learning exams. They are also required to pass the mathematics WASL exam and/or take the exam and additional math courses or another exam to fulfill the requirement.

In addition to passing the WASL, students are also required to complete a high school and beyond plan, a culminating high school project and meet their district’s credit requirements.

This year, 93 percent of students from the class of 2009 passed the reading and writing requirements of the WASL, according to the state superintendent’s office. Other information about WASL math scores wasn’t available and won’t be until the fall or winter.

However, the state’s on time graduation rate in 2008 was 72 percent. Students who graduate on time are those that do so in four years, ninth through 12th-grade. The state’s dropout rate is nearly 6 percent.

In Issaquah, district officials handed 1,104 students in the class of 2009 their diplomas. Issaquah’s on-time graduation rate has been 92.6 percent and its dropout rate has been 1.6 percent in recent years.

Only three students districtwide didn’t receive their diplomas.

Those three students would have graduated if they had been able to meet state standards for the WASL. However, two of the students are English language learners, still trying to master enough English skills to pass the exam; the third is a special-education student.

State officials’ focus in coming years is shifting from the WASL to implementing a new assessment system, which will begin next spring.

The new system will reduce testing time but still capture student performance on necessary skills and will mainly be provided online.

Details regarding that system are still vague. However, students in grades six through eight will take online reading and math tests beginning next spring.

In spring 2011, students in grades five through eight will take reading, writing, math and science tests online and high school students will take reading, writing and math exams online. By spring 2012, students in grades four through eight will take online reading, writing, math and science exams and high schoolers will take online reading, math and science exams.

The goal is to reduce the dropout rate by reducing testing time and putting more emphasis on identifying children’s learning needs in and outside the classroom to help them pass.

“Keeping students in high school and engaged in learning is an issue that every community, school, legislator and state leader must address,” Dorn said in a press release. “We can’t afford to fail our students.”

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