Friday, April 28, 2006

The WASL

I teach third grade in Seattle, Washington. The high stakes test in our neck of the woods is called the WASL (wah' sel). I'll leave the description of it up to my kids. They wrote a little bit about it each day - and then posted their thoughts for the week today, after we finished.

I am just amazed at their ability in this medium. Remember, these are 8 and 9 year olds, reflecting on an extremely difficult test - over time - and then putting it together in one posting. What comes across so strongly to me is their sense of voice. They write with purpose, questionning, sense of humor, and much more. I am so proud of them. They will do well in this world.

Fifteen of my 22 kids published today at our classroom blog, roomtwelve.com Here are a few entries that just blew me away:

Could they have written this stuff and in this way before before we got into blogging? Probably.

Would I have assigned it? No way.

Is this type of writing important, and will they benefit from it? Duh.

Technology is changing not only the WAY we teach but WHAT we teach.

3 comments:

s said...

"extremely difficult test"

They did not think it was difficult. Why do you seem to be underestimating their abilities?

Are they overestimating their own abilities?

Neither you nor the children explained what kind of problems were on the test. What mental abilities were needed, other than memorization?

Mark Ahlness said...

jrh - The WASL in third grade lasts seven hours - or longer. During this time, students sit in total silence. They receive no feedback, no help, no encouragement, no redirection, nothing. Seven hours of silence. They have no idea how well they did - nor do I. I am not allowed to read their test booklets. In a few months they'll find out how they did. This is an extremely abusive situation. Thanks again, NCLB.

My point was the ability they have as writers - it's just amazing to me. Next year they'll also have to take the writing portion of the WASL - oh joy. Of course they will not be allowed to write on a computer. - Mark

s said...

You can understand why I was misled by the phrase "extremely difficult test."

You've altered it to "extremely abusive test," but that still does not seem correct. Are you defining abuse as seven hours of silence spread over four days (plus breaks and a snacks)? Are you defining abuse as the children's anxiety created by not knowing test scores?


I still contend that you seem to be underestimating the abilities of an eight-year-old. What evidence do we have that even the "most disandvantaged" children in this world cannot comprehend, say, Shakespeare?