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S'side sophomores show progress on summer WASL, but school district wants to reach more for re-takes

There were 120 Sunnyside students from last year's sophomore class who took the WASL exam in August.

For all but six of them, the summer test was a retake to work on improving their WASL scores from last spring.

The students are part of the Class of 2008, the first required by the state to pass the reading, writing and math portions of the WASL in order to graduate.

And nearly all of them did in fact improve their scores in August, according to data released Wednesday by the state office of public instruction.

Lori Froese, assessment coordinator for the Sunnyside School District, said most of the students (118) took the math WASL test in August, 26 took the writing WASL and 18 took the reading WASL.

Froese said 12 of the students who tested in August took all three portions of the WASL.

More than two-thirds (67 percent) of students taking the reading WASL showed improvement over their spring scores and 39 percent passed the test.

Nearly the same percentage of students taking the math in August (64 percent) showed improvement over their spring scores. Twenty percent of them met the state standards by passing that portion of the WASL.

The best results from August came in the writing WASL, where 77 percent showed improvement over the spring and 54 percent passed that portion of the exam.

Students passing the summer WASL exams helped the Sunnyside School District earn status as displaying adequate yearly progress in keeping with the state's WASL standards.

"We are constantly trying to make adequate yearly progress," said Sunnyside Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole. He noted the district was rated as not making adequate yearly progress prior to the August WASL testing.

Overall, the district has to again display adequate yearly progress next year in order to sustain that status with the state

"It's really good news, but we have to do it again next year," Cole said.

Cole said August's WASL progress was a result of additional work with students.

"What we saw is that the work that happened last summer helped the kids that were close (to passing the WASL the first time)," Cole noted.

Froese said it also helped that students had already taken the WASL once before.

"Because there's so much writing on the WASL, they're maybe not as intimidated the second time around (in taking the WASL)," Froese noted.

But even with the progress, Cole felt there were more students who should have re-taken the WASL.

"The state legislature put $24 million into summer (WASL) programs, but when you look into the amount of money and the amount of kids who participated, it's not as effective as it can be," Cole observed.

The 118 students who took the math WASL in August, for example, represented just a fourth of last year's sophomore class. Yet nearly three-fourths of the students in that class failed the math WASL the first time around last spring.

Cole said he asked legislators to revisit the WASL summer program and perhaps substitute it with evening WASL courses and re-takes during the school year.

"A lot of kids in Sunnyside have to work during the summer, and I just don't know if we got as many kids (for the summer WASL) as we needed to," Cole said. "It wasn't for lack of effort, though."

The test administered in August marked the first time the state offered summer re-takes of the WASL.

Students in the class of 2008 still have three more opportunities to take the WASL before June 2008. The next round of WASL testing is spring 2007.

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