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Testing in Washington: An Overview

A GreatSchools guide to standardized tests

By GreatSchools Staff

Although test results are only one measure of student achievement, they have become increasingly important in assessing student learning. In 2009-2010 Washington used the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) and the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) to test students in reading and math in grades 3 through 8 and 10, in writing in grades 4, 7 and 10, and in science in grades 5, 8 and 10. The MSP and HSPE are standards-based tests that measure specific skills defined for each grade by the state of Washington. Students are required to pass the grade 10 HSPE in order to graduate from high school.

Although test results can be an indicator of what's happening in the classroom, they don't tell you everything about the quality of a particular school. Always look at more than one measure when judging school quality and visit in person before making any final assessment.

The information provided on GreatSchools profiles is for the 2009-2010 school year.

Tests in Washington

Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) and High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE)

The Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) and the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE), state standards-based tests, are used to measure how well students are meeting the state's grade-level expectations. In 2009-2010, students were tested in reading and math in grades 3 through 8 and 10, in writing in grades 4, 7 and 10, and in science in grades 5, 8 and 10. 

How are teachers supported in preparing students for statewide tests?

Washington has a network of Regional Learning and Assessment Centers (RLACs) throughout the state. At these centers, assessment trainers work with classroom teachers and provide staff development seminars to assist teachers in making assessment part of their classroom routine. In addition, state-level curriculum specialists develop classroom-based assessments that teachers can use to help guide day-to-day instruction. This program is designed to support teachers, and ultimately, students. The state is working on making these services more widespread throughout the state and providing more time for teachers to become trained in how to use assessment results to drive classroom instruction.

What are the Essential Academic Learning Requirements?

The Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs, pronounced "EEL-ers") are Washington's state learning standards in the content areas of reading, writing, communication, math, science, social studies, the arts and health/fitness. These standards represent the specific academic skills and knowledge defined by the state for each grade level. The WASL currently measures achievement in reading, writing, communication, math and science, and eventually will include tests in other areas.

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Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

07/19/2010:
"The WASL and the 'No Child Left Behind' law is a crock! They do NOT have the childrens future in mind at all! It teaches the kids short cuts to get past the 'system' and does not consider after graduation skills at all!"
04/21/2008:
" Hi my name is Deborah I have two questions that might help me to deside what schools to put my two sons into this next school year, does everett school district have a good ratio in their education systems an if so what are they? do all of the Everett schools here in WA take the WASL tests,and do they have any educatioal after school programs that will help my children propser in there normal grade classes. "
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