"WASL Haunted High"

a PepperSpray Productions update

On a late October, Friday in 2007, PepperSpray Productions member Lila Kitaeff documented a SYPP (Seattle Young People’s Project) staging of the WASL Haunted High, an event meant to raise awareness about the problems of making the WASL exit exam a graduation requirement. In the years since the original of this video the WASL exam has been replaced by other test that have been seen as very similar.

The Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) exam was used to determine if Washington schools were meeting the goals of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act of 2002. It was given each year to students in grades 3-8 and grade 10, covering reading, writing, math, and science. Advocates of the exam felt it was necessary to measure how schools were performing academically. Opponents of the exam, like SYPP, felt that the WASL would have adverse impacts, especially on students of color, low-income students, English Language Lerner students, and students with disabilities.

In spring of 2009 the WASL was given for the final time and replaced by two other standardized test that opponents say are very similar to the WASL. The Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) and the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) officially replaced the WASL in 2010. The major difference in the test from the WASL was the length of the test (cut from 2-3 weeks of testing to 1 ½ at most) and the fact that it could be done online. The HSPE was still a requirement to graduate if the student failed the other state exams. In the spring of 2015 most Washington students started taking the incarnation of the state test called the Smarter Balanced Assessment. These test were designed to reflect the rigorous standards adopted by many states known as Common Core State Standards. Despite the new names and standards the fight against standardized test in Seattle, Washington, and across the country has continued.