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The future is here...in terms of WASL mandates

MABTON - Of the 47 students in the class of 2008, 23 students are at risk of not graduating. That worrisome tidbit prompted a lengthy discussion at last night's regularly scheduled Mabton School Board meeting.

Two groups of students were discussed: students who are where they need to be in terms of Mabton High School credits but didn't pass the WASL, and students who passed the WASL but are behind on Mabton High School requirements.

Junior/Senior High School Principal Jay Tyus and counselor Lucia Tovar presented the information to the board. Also noted was that grades will be released tomorrow (Wednesday), which could impact those figures.

Also present in the audience was Sandra Alaniz, a parent whose daughter is at risk of not graduating due to not passing the writing portion of the WASL.

"She's worked so hard for so many days," Alaniz said, fighting back tears. "When she received those (WASL) results, she was crying."

Alaniz urged the school district to take action to help the students who are trying to pass the WASL but are failing.

This prompted a discussion of an alternative in order for Alaniz's daughter to graduate: OSPI now allows a "collection of evidence" which is a portfolio created to show a student's progress in school in the portion of the WASL that he or she failed.

As Superintendent Sandra Pasiero-Davis noted, it's evidence that a student can pass in that area.

School Board Chairwoman Jeanette Williams asked Tovar and Tyus what work was being done to assist the students at risk of not graduating.

Tovar said she sends out credit deficiency notices three times a year. Williams said she'd like to see Tovar contact the parents of the students. Williams also noted that individualized student learning plans need to be created much earlier than they actually are.

Pasiero-Davis said parents are a key component to student success.

The board was asked if they would allow a senior to walk with his or her class if the individual met Mabton School District requirements, but didn't pass the WASL.

At this point, Pasiero-Davis said, "My belief is that (if a student) worked for 12 years, with integrity, to pass all classes, (he or she) should not bear the burden of a high stakes test to walk with their classmates...one test does not measure 12 years worth of work."

Pasiero-Davis also noted that the power to determine who could graduate once rested on school boards. But since the law changed, that power was taken away.

Williams noted that Mabton's graduation requirements are actually higher than the state's as far as credits.

No decision was made as to whether or not students who don't pass the WASL but meet Mabton graduation requirements can walk at commencement exercises.

Pasiero-Davis commended Alaniz's bravery for speaking out at the meeting. "Your voice is the voice of parents who are too shy or too frustrated to come."

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