What four students are doing
THE NEWS TRIBUNE
Spanaway Lake High School, Spanaway
• Age: 17
• Career goal: Plans to go to college and study psychology, but hasnt settled on where to go.
• GPA: N/A
• WASL history: Passed the reading and writing portions of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, but has been unable to conquer the math section. I came pretty close to passing the math test, she said.
• The challenge: Must successfully complete a yearlong math course this year and retake the math WASL, though passing the math exam wont be required.
• WASL preps: Taking geometry to fulfill the new graduation requirements. But adding the extra math class meant she couldnt fit a psychology course she wanted into her schedule. Psychology really interests me, she said. How people act. How they behave.
• On the graduation requirements: I dont think theyre fair at all, she said. Other classes havent had to do it. She thinks the culminating project plus the high school-and-beyond plan are daunting tasks. That said, she added that she believes the rigorous standards will help her prepare for life after high school.
Washington High School, Parkland
• Age: 17
• Career goal: Lawyer
• GPA: 3.0
• WASL history: Attempted but did not pass any required sections in 10th grade. That summer, she retook all sections and passed reading. Attempted writing and math in 11th grade and passed writing.
• The challenge: Must successfully complete a yearlong math course this year and retake the math WASL, though passing the math exam wont be required. Unlike other school districts that consider a D a passing grade, Franklin Pierce School District students must earn a C or higher to pass a course.
• WASL preps: Taking the new segmented math course at her school for the entire year to meet the new graduation requirements.
• On the new WASL graduation requirement: Black thought about quitting school when she wasnt successful on the math WASL for the second time. There was a lot of pressure to know you have to pass, she said. When you think youre not passing, negative things go through your head. Yet shes confident she can pass the segmented math class this year. I agree we should have to take the test but I dont think it should be a graduation requirement, she said. Not everyone is on that math level, and everyone has to take the same test. People may not have covered some of the (tested) material.
Curtis High School, University Place
• Age: 18
• Career goal: Software programmer or information technology specialist
• GPA: 3.3
• WASL history: Attempted but did not pass the three required WASL sections in 10th grade. Retook the test in 11th grade and passed reading and math.
• WASL preps: Taking 12th-grade English and English-language-learning classes. Soon will get extra help in English after school.
• The challenge: Must pass the writing WASL in English, even though its his second language. Deshkin emigrated from Mordovia, Russia, to the United States in September 2003. In 10th grade at Clover Park High School, he took an after-school WASL prep program and attempted the test for the first time that spring. He had lived in America for only 18 months.
• On the WASL graduation requirement: Though hes had to study hard for the WASL and the rest of his classes, Deshkin thinks all students should have to pass the exam to graduate. While hes more comfortable writing in Russian, he said, If we live in America, we need to learn this language and do it (the WASL) in English.
Graham-Kapowsin High School, Graham
• Age: 17
• Career goal: Join the Air Force, become a firefighter
• GPA: 2.5
• WASL history: Passed reading section in 10th grade, but not writing or math. Passed math in 11th grade, but not writing. Missed meeting the writing benchmark by 1 point on each attempt.
• The challenge: Must pass writing WASL. Has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and problems concentrating and staying focused.
• WASL preps: Receives individual tutoring sessions with an English teacher twice a week at school.
• On the WASL graduation requirement: I really dont understand why we have the WASL, he said. Ive never been told why we have the WASL or what its for just that we have to pass it. Hes stressed about meeting the writing requirement, but believes the tutoring is teaching him the skills he needs to pass. I know people who dont care if they pass it or not; they just want to drop out, he said. I try to convince them to stay in school. They think theyll just get their GED instead.Compiled by News Tribune staff writers Debby Abe and Kris Sherman