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Story Time

It's WASL time

The wailing and weeping has begun! So has the pleading and begging, the cajoling.

The first confirmed sighting came just recently, at a local school board meeting. A mother stepped to the podium and, fighting back tears, bemoaned the fact that despite all the hard work her daughter has put in, she wasn't on track to graduate.

The culprit? None other than the infamous WASL. The daughter of this particular mother, as well as many other teens throughout Washington, are having a dickens of a time navigating their way through this state-mandated test.

Recent reports reveal that 25 percent of the 2007-08 Sunnyside High School graduating class...oops, make that senior class...will not graduate next spring because they can't pass the WASL. The numbers are even worse in Mabton, where 23 of the 47 seniors are at risk of not graduating.

Expect more mothers and fathers to step to the podium at future school board meetings. You can sense it, the panic is setting in. You can almost hear it, the gnashing of teeth. It's just not fair, they'll say, that my little Johnnie or Suzie won't have a high school diploma next spring.

School administrators, too, are dreading the ever-approaching deadline that makes it a requirement to pass the WASL in order to receive a diploma. They've already started lobbying legislators to change the rules. One administrator recently told our local state representatives that what troubles him is that he'll have seniors next spring with grade point averages above 3.0, but who won't graduate because of the WASL.

It is indeed alarming, sad even, that many youngsters are facing a future they must traverse without benefit of having a high school diploma in their possession.

Unfortunately, unless you've lived in a cave for the last seven years, we all knew this day was coming. And, sadly, it's warranted...based on the quality of graduate we routinely hand a diploma to each spring.

I'm not going to get into the argument that the current version of the WASL is too stringent of a test for high school seniors to pass, nor the argument that students with limited English language skills should be exempt from taking the exam. Bottom line...there has to be something in place that measures whether or not a high school senior is deserving of a graduation diploma.

To the administrators who bemoan the fact they have plenty of students earning B's or better but can't pass the WASL, I say you had better raise your standards. I've been made privy to too many cases where public school students who were regular honor roll achievers but who, when transferring to a private school, struggled mightily in making the grade.

To the parents who are boo-hooing the predicament their children are in, now might be a good time to consider whether it's worthwhile to let their son or daughter spend all of that time on the football gridiron, basketball court or baseball field. Maybe all of those hours their child spends in front of a video game really aren't paying off.

It's time to pay the piper.

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