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Frequently Asked Questions About the WASL

— State: Washington State Board of Education
Updated on Dec 19, 2011

Testing Students in Washington State

Testing Students

  • High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) This test measures the proficiency of students in high school and serves as the state’s exit exam. Students must pass this assessment or a state-approved alternative in reading and writing in order to be eligible to graduate.
  • End-of-Course Assessments (EOC) End-of-course assessments for high school Mathematics are to be implemented statewide by the 2010-11 school year and replacing the Mathematics portion of the HSPE. End-of-course assessments for high school Science are to be implemented statewide by spring 2012 and replacing the Science portion of the HSPE.
  • Washington Language Proficiency Test II (WLPT-II) The WLPT-II annually assesses the growth of the state’s English language learners. Students in grades K-12 are tested in reading, writing, listening and speaking.
  • National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) NAEP is a national assessment that allows educational achievement to be compared across states. Federal law requires every state to give the NAEP in reading and math at grades 4 and 8 every two years. States and school districts that receive Title I federal funding to aid educationally disadvantaged students in high poverty areas must participate in these assessments. Other subjects also are tested.
  • Classroom-Based Assessments (CBAs) and Classroom-Based Performance Assessments (CBPAs) The state supports the development of classroom-based assessments that are based on the state’s learning standards and help guide day-to-day instruction. State curriculum specialists create tasks and questions that model good assessments and provide them to local school districts.

Frequently Asked Questions about State Testing

What Subjects are Covered on our State Tests?

The MSP and HSPE are based on the state’s learning standards contained in the Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs). Students are tested in:

  • Reading: Grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10
  • Writing: Grades 4, 7 and 10
  • Math: Grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10
  • Science: Grades 5, 8 and 10

What Types of Questions Appear on State Tests?

The MSP and HSPE tests are much shorter than the WASL and include multiple-choice and short-answer questions. Four-point essay questions have been eliminated on reading, math and science tests. This change allows students to show they are able to solve the problems, while not being scored on their writing ability on the math, reading and science tests.

What Makes our State Tests Different from Other Standardized Tests?

The MSP and HSPE are unlike more familiar standardized tests, which measure students' performance against other students. Our state tests measures students' performance against a set of learning standards, not against their peers. Think of the MSP/HSPE like the test you take to earn a driver’s license. It doesn’t matter what other drivers score, only what you scored and that you have the driving skills and knowledge of traffic laws to “meet the standard” and get a license.

Does my Son or Daughter Still Need to Pass a State Test to Graduate from High School?

Yes. No matter what the state test is called, the graduation requirements that go along with it have not changed. If a student passed one or more content areas on the WASL, he/she would not have to take the HSPE in that specific subject. For example, a high school student in 2009 passes the reading WASL, but not the writing WASL. That student would need to take the writing HSPE but not the reading.

You can find more Frequently Asked Questions about State Testing at:

http://www.k12.wa.us/assessment/StateTesting/FAQ.aspx

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