Tips On Writing a “WASL” Letter to the Editor


One way to get the attention of the public regarding our concerns about the WASL is to write letters to the editors of local papers. An occasional letter doesn’t count for much, but a concentrated effort around the State will influence not just the public but the legislature as well. This technique is being widely used by large political organizations but we have adapted it for grassroots groups. What follows originally was disseminated by and has been rewritten specifically to address the WASL. WRITE ON!


Reference a Recent Article: If possible, it is best to include a reference to a recent article that appeared in the newspaper you’ve selected and then write your letter as a response, building on what was printed or pointing out how your viewpoint isn’t included. This greatly increases the likelihood that your letter will be printed.
Include Your Contact Information: Most newspapers will only print a letter to the editor after calling the author to verify his or her identity and address. Newspapers will not give out that information and will usually only print your name and city should your letter be published.
Be Clear and Concise: Keep your letters brief and to the point. Newspaper editors often edit for length, so try to keep your letter to less than 200 words. The shorter it is, the more likely it will be printed.
State Your Point Early: Be sure to state your main point in the subject line and in the first sentence of the letter.
Keep to One Topic
: Keep your letters focused on one subject.

Talking Points

1. Please write, in your own words, why you think it’s time to get rid of the WASL. Only individually written letters will be published.
2. If you have a personal story about someone you know who has failed the WASL despite effort or has been placed in an embarrassing situation because of it, please share it.
3. This is an issue of basic fairness. Tests should measure what they purport to measure and one test should never be held up as a representative of years of learning.
4. The legislature should immediately drop the WASL as a graduation requirement and should launch a study, independent of the OSPI, to examine the standards and a more efficient and effective assessment system.

Here are some facts you can use to support your argument:

1. Error of Measurement
o All tests have an error of measurement. The WASL Standard Error of Measurement is so large that thousands of students are within the band of uncertainty near the cut point and may have been failed in error.
2. Cost
o A national study estimates the median cost of tests given by states to meet NCLB requirements at $15 per pupil. The WASL costs as much as $77 per pupil in direct costs. A representative of the OSPI estimated that more than $1 billion had been spent on direct costs of WASL-related school reform from its inception through 2007. This is compounded at both the state and district levels by indirect costs of administration and remediation.
3. Instructional Insensitivity
o Because there are so many extended answer items, the total number of questions on any given topic does not provide sufficient coverage to fully define areas of weakness and/or strength. Turn-around time for scoring precludes any useful response to individual students.
4. Ignores Testing Standards
o The American Educational Research Association and more than 20 additional assessment organizations agree that “it is not appropriate to use performance on a single standardized test for making high-stakes decisions for individuals”.
5. Race, Culture and Disabilities
o Pass rates for limited English proficient, African American, and Hispanic students are far below those of Caucasian and Asian students indicating some degree of bias. Special Education students also experienced very low pass rates.

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One Response to “Tips On Writing a “WASL” Letter to the Editor”

  1. Jacob Paz Says:

    Letter to the editor,

    Dear Sir:

    In contrast to the opinion published on 03/07/2010 “Yucca Mountain testimony lacks scientific reasoning” It is my scientific and legal view are that Dr. Chu his with in his right to withdrew the YMP license application and why.

    On February 23rd and 26th 2010 the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects web site reported the following that: Hanford area business, Aiken County S.C. and the Tri-City State of Washington leaders officially filed a lawsuits against President Obama and Secretary of Energy for scrapping plans to build the Yucca Mountain Project (YMP) Nuclear Waste Facility in the Court of Appeals Washington D.C. The S.C. the lawsuit is seeking to stay the hearing of Yucca Mountain License Application. Akin S.C lawsuit alleged that withdrawal of the license application violated the Nuclear waste Act of 1982 and its Amendments. Additionally, it may also violate the National Environment Policy Act of 1969.
    While, the Tri-city lawsuit stated that the termination of the YMP license application could pose health risks to their community. My contention is that the Department of Energy – Yucca Mountain Project license application is incomplete since it failed to address health and Safety risk issues associated with metals and radionuclide exposure to groundwater which is mandated under NEPA Acts and its regulations. The NEPA Act clearly mandates regulatory agencies to prepare a detailed statement on significant environmental impact (EIS) of major federal actions, and to include reasonable alternative actions.
    Next, YMP official in Las Vegas, Review Journal 2004 stated that “to calculate health risks from the combine effects of heavy metals and radioactive materials when there is no requirement to do so would be “like challenging the speed limit.”
    The DOE position is in s both in contrast to NEPA Acts of (1969) since DOE have it failed properly to discuss the potential/probable significant environmental impact of radionuclide and heavy metals on the human environment in the EIS. In addition, 40 Code of Federal Regulation 1502.22 Cumulative effects that stats “when an agency is evaluating reasonably and foreseeable significant adverse effects on the human environment in the environmental impact statement and there is incomplete … the agency shall always make it clear that such information is lacking.”
    Furthermore, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in a letter addressed to me dated March 30, 2009 stated that “With regard to your concern about the DOE’s, the DOE’s EIS the NRC staff agree that analysis did not provide an adequate discussion of the cumulative amounts of radiological and non-radiological contaminated that may enter groundwater over time, this contaminated would behave in the aquifer and related environment. We have found that this failure to adequately characterize potential contaminates releases to the groundwater and surface discharge renders that the portion of the EIS is inadequate. DOE’s discussion of these impacts in the EIS’s is not consistence with the NRC’s regulations for completeness and adequacy of discussion of environmental consequences of proposed action. The importance of this letter that is the NRC it has directed YMP to submit a supplement Environmental Impact statement “to ensure that 2002 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the Supplement EIS are adequate.”
    The DOE is required to comply with regulations Section 10 CFR 63.10 (a) and (b), which stated the following it is “require the DOE to submit a complete and accurate license application; and Section 63.10 b) report a significant implication for public health and safety … licensee fails to notify the Commission of information that the applicant or licensee has identified as having a significant implication for public.”
    Therefore, it is my opinion that the President of U.S. Mr. Obama and the Secretary of Energy within their right to withdraw the license application as incomplete. It did not violate any parts of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 and its amendments o any section in 10 CFR 63 regulations.


    Dr. Jacob D Paz

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