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That’s right, my Black, single-parent-home BOYchild Passed the WASL

September 22, 2009
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Yup, you heard it hear folks.  The boy child has passed the WASL.  He was rated as having exceeded Washington State standards in all categories.  Ha!

I’m a proud mama, so indulge me.

The boychild came in from school and busied himself with unpacking his backpack and getting his snack.  He casually walks by with two white papers in his hands.  He’s on his way to the family bulitien board to post it, and I, being a mom and recognizing it as something that is probably for me, hold out my hand.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“WASL results,” he says without a care.

I remember last years WASL.  The boychild came to me the night before the first testing day and outlined his testing strategies.  For an elementary school-aged kid, I was impressed and recall nodding my head over and over and reassuring him that if he followed his strategies he’d do just fine.

“Okay, can I see them please?” I asked.

A form letter with another page stapled.  I read the first sentence.  My eyes grew wide.  I flipped quickly to the sencond page- my eyes grew wider.  I looked at the back of the second page, and exclaimed “WOW!”

The boychild breaks into a grin.

“You passed!” I exclaimed, “congratulations!”

“Thanks,” he said sheepishly.

It must be said- I don’t care about the WASL.  In fact, call me evil, we’ve even opted out of it before.  I know it doesn’t measure the fullness of my children, so, you know, whatever.

That said, I do instill in my kids that education comes before anything.

But passing the WASL- I refuse to make a big deal out of it.  I’m not naive and I understand that kids get put on certain “tracks” depending on how they evaluate, but I think I’d be a bad mom if I was badgering my kids to study for and pass a test.  I refuse to present them with a “it’s all or nothing” pass/fail scenario every year.  That’s just unnecessary stress.

Still.  I felt pride looking over his results and seeing how well he did- he didn’t just squeak by, he blew it out of the water.

As the state preps for the next version of a standardized test under our newly elected state superintendent, I’m going to keep doing the same thing.

For the children:

No television during the week.

1 hour of reading a day- EVERY day.

Go to bed at a sensible time.

For me:

Hold my kids (and their TEACHERS) accountable for doing their personal best at school.

Communicate with teachers…OFTEN.

Check/sign homework.

Advocate as needed.

Obviously it’s working.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2009 6:40 am

    What a nice moment for your son. And while some people may frown upon celebrating what a child should do anyway, positive reinforcement is critical for a young child. Even more so when some of us parents are on our kids when they don’t achieve to their potential.

    I am a single mother of a son and the title of this post made me laugh. The post today on my blog is about being a single mother. It also has a link to a rant (Stability just as important as two parents) I went on recently.

    My son has limited TV and he must also read. He also watches movies and studies subject they don’t get in school. I’ve recently been disappointed in my lack of reading time even though I love to read and my reading list continues to get longer. So my son and I read in a room together.

    Next week its going to be “Education Week” on my blog. I hope you’ll stop by and discuss more of your tips about your child’s education. Not only do I want to share what I’m doing with my son but I want to get more ideas.

    What grade is your son in? I have a 5th grader.

  2. Charlie Mas permalink
    October 5, 2009 6:34 am

    It would appear that your son and you have beaten the odds. I shudder to think of the WASL pass rate among African-American boys from single parent homes. It’s a tragedy.

    That said, I think you two had the odds beat long before he sat down to take the tests. He passed for the same reason that other students – regardless of race, class, or family structure – pass: because you taught him “that education comes before anything”. That support for his schooling and that value on education in the child’s home is the primary determinant of academic achievement. No one else can do that for a child than the adults in the student’s home. No amount of school funding can replace it.

    I know that this idea is hard to read. It’s hard to write as well. If your support and the high value on education you have shared with your child are at the root of his success… then doesn’t it follow that lack of support and a low value on education is at the root of other children’s failure to achieve in school? Doesn’t that lay a lot of blame on families – and doesn’t it accuse minority, single-parent, and low-income families in particular?

    Let’s not jump to blame – that’s not really right. It’s not warranted and it just invites argument and defensiveness. Instead, let’s say “responsibility”. Academic support and an expression of value for education is a family’s responsibility to a child. There are often legitimate reasons that people cannot meet these responsibilities – economic reasons, resource reasons, time reasons, etc. I can think of several as I’m sure we all can. Moreover, who among us can say that value systems that prize things above education are not as valid as those that give education a high rank? I’m not going to say that some cultural value systems are better than others – because I don’t believe it. Some of them are better at supporting education; others are better at supporting other values. Hey, if your culture doesn’t value education very highly, then you aren’t going to be much concerned by low WASL scores and you’re not going to do much about them, are you?

    So perhaps the efforts to raise WASL pass rates is totally misguided and based on a culturally biased perspective that presumes a high value on education. Perhaps WASL pass rates cannot be improved until education becomes a high-ranking value in students’ homes. Are we okay with trying to change the values of various cultures? Or, as all Americans are multi-cultural, should we work to innoculate the local culture with a value on education – make it a Seattle thing? I think that’s a more fruitful path. Can we create and spread the idea that Seattle is about coffee, mountains, water, forests, seafood, beer, and school? Can we make academic achievement a local mania (like real estate, traffic and weather).

    I look forward to reading what you think.

  3. Sable permalink
    October 6, 2009 3:03 pm

    I know plenty of parents who share the same values as I do, and instill them in their kids. Their kids didn’t pass the WASL.

  4. November 6, 2009 9:04 pm

    One of the best posts on this site. Be-lated congratulations. Parental involvement is key.

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