U-B editorial rankles

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The U-B’s Editorial “Concerns about state-mandated math test overblown” seemed glib and uncaring to this reader.

The figures the U-B presented were that 71,671 seniors passed the new math requirement, 4,100 failed the test and 2,700 didn’t take the test — for an overall total of 78,471 students. That means that 8.7 percent of the “pool” did not graduate after putting in 13 years, counting kindergarten, in the public school system.

It’s hard to see how the U-B can take something close to a “that’s just tough” attitude.

Everyone in Walla Walla, at Wa-Hi and Lincoln High, passed, which is praiseworthy. Lincoln High School’s record is even more impressive when you consider that 72 percent (2009 figure) of the students are low income and the school population’s average ACE score (Adverse Childhood Experiences) is at a dangerously high level.

Praise is due for Wa-Hi’s administration and teachers and for Principal Jim Sporleder and the dedicated teachers at Lincoln for their 100 passing record. This obviously wasn’t the case everywhere, however.

Why did the state need yet another test? We seem to be doing well enough. According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, “Washington students’ combined average score on the SAT (1545) is the highest in the nation — tied with Vermont — among states in which at least 45 percent of the eligible students took the test.” Illinois has the highest average nationally, but only 5 percent of students took the SAT in 2010 while 57 percent of Washington students took the test.

Why not give the test early in the students’ junior year and give students most of their junior year and all of their entire senior year to pass? Why doesn’t the legislature demand and OSPI administrate a system that requires each and every school district to give every student the best possible opportunity to pass the test and graduate. This would include classes during and after school.

The truth is that when asked if this test is entirely fair, the Legislature and the OSPI posture and accuse the questioner of being in favor of “lowering standards.” As long as you are four square for higher (if not universally fair) standards, your legislative and bureaucratic keisters are well guarded.

I am a retired public school teacher and I have tutored a number of adults in GED math. My best guess is that many of the Legislators would fail the test themselves.

Norm Osterman

Walla Walla

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