Wednesday, January 16, 2008

summer WASL math remediation stinks

Mathwise, the astounding failure of WASL retakes has much to do with the quick-fix nature of the summer remediation offered.
The PAS program enrolled only 14 percent of eligible sophomores in summer 2006, and of those, only 28 percent passed a retake of the math WASL in August 2006. The results were only slightly better than those of students who didn't participate in the state-funded program.

The failure of the emergency remediation efforts was one factor in the Legislature's decision to suspend math as a graduation requirement until 2013. Students still must pass reading and writing to graduate.

The PAS summer math program, with a curriculum developed by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), was only four weeks. Administrators from several Snohomish County school districts said that was too little time to help most students.

"For the vast majority, what we could do in four weeks was not sufficient," said Ken Limón, assistant superintendent for Edmonds schools. Edmonds didn't offer the math summer PAS program this year because the earlier results were "so ineffective," Limón said.
Four weeks of math to close the gap? The words "optimistic" and "foolhardy" come to mind, followed closely by "ill-conceived" and "ridiculous."

The 4-week crash course might have helped more students who scored L2+ (close to passing, L3), but apparently, those students were more likely to take the WASL again without losing a precious month of summer. In the end, it may have made little difference; we have to account for the possibility that the L2's who signed up for the summer course just might have been the go-getters of the bunch.

As for the "modest" increase relative to non-participants, the WSIPP report notes [pdf]:
The gains made by PAS participants reported in Exhibit 6 are relatively modest when one considers that reading scores range from 225 to 525 points and math scores vary between 200 and 575 points. For example, PAS participants improved by only 1.3 points relative to non-participants on a 300-point reading scale.
Cost to taxpayers: $28.5 million. Cost to OSPI's pedagogical credibility: incalculable.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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