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Sunday, December 18, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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An alternative path to a high-school diploma

Booth Gardner's plan for changing assessments required for a high-school diploma:

• Proceed with plans to give the WASL to this year's sophomores. Many will pass and they should be rewarded for their preparation and hard work.

• Change state law to require development of portfolios or other alternatives for students to demonstrate that they can meet learning standards. This requirement should be tied to standards, not to the WASL.

• Require that students may choose an alternative assessment prior to administration of the 10th-grade WASL.

• Change state law to require that the superintendent of public instruction review tests, such as Advanced Placement exams and career certification tests, to determine whether high-school students who pass them have met state learning standards. These tests would then become alternatives to all or part of the WASL.

• With the University of Washington's College of Education, evaluate existing assessment methods and develop new assessments as needed to provide culturally relevant assessments to students from demographic groups that have significantly more difficulty with the WASL than others.

• With the Digital Learning Commons, evaluate how its current program offering electronic portfolios to more than 4,000 high-school students in the state as part of UW's Program on Educational Transformation Through Technology can be used as an alternative assessment for graduation purposes.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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