Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category


March 16, 2009


Our purpose in writing this article is to set the stage for a series of activities that you can use personally or with your students to practice the strategies of the skilled thinker.  There are many ways to conceptualize the organization of these skills.  We have chosen to group them into the categories of gathering, assessing or considering, and applying.

Gathering skills can be thought of as discrete skills that are used to recall or collect bits of data that are thought to be useful in the pursuit of the solution to some sort of problematic situation.  As the data begins to accumulate, the skilled thinker considers and assesses what has been gathered and begins to sketch out potential solutions.  Often, additional gathering steps are required to fill in gaps.  Application skills blend all of the pieces into a strategic attack on the problem at hand. (more…)

Learning Essentials Assessment Program

December 13, 2008

10-Points in the Development of a Quality Assessment Program

I  support the use of content standards as one component of an accountability system for the students and schools of the State of Washington. I further believe that state required accountability tests, based on these standards, must be practical and useful to parents and educators. These tests are not appropriate, however, as gatekeepers for graduation or promotion from grade-to-grade.

To ensure that assessment programs are valid, reliable and produce practical information that may be used in the development of high quality academic, career, vocational and alternate programs, it is necessary to work with parents, educators, the State Board of Education and interested stakeholders, to implement a new LEARNING ESSENTIALS ASSESSMENT PROGRAM (LEAP) for the State of Washington.


Back to the Real Basics by Marion Brady

November 25, 2007


“Standards!” “Accountability!” “Raise the bar!” “Rigor!” “No excuses!”

The slogans and catchwords of would-be school reformers are exploited by politicians, broadcast by radio talk-show hosts, plastered on car bumpers, underlined by newspaper editorialists, elaborated in the popular press, and taken seriously by much of the general public.

They’re also favorite themes of those leaders of business and industry who, in the1980s, began to elbow professional educators aside and work through Congress to take over education reform. There’s little or nothing wrong with American education, these leaders are certain, which can’t be made right by tightening institutional screws. (more…)

Tips On Writing a “WASL” Letter to the Editor

January 8, 2007


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! (more…)

Off-Grade Testing

November 30, 2006


The use of the WASL at grades 3, 5, 6, and 8 is completely inappropriate. The test is instructionally insensitive with only a few items sampling a broad range of EALRS. 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 and in any event the method of reporting student scores as a 1, 2, 3, or 4 does not provide the kind of data a teacher needs to plan appropriate remediation.


More High-Stakes Mythbusters

October 31, 2006


MYTH 1: Since introduction of the WASL and similar high-stakes tests in other states in the mid-1990s pressure of the tests has led to significant improvement in student achievement.

What do investigators report? (more…)

WASL-Wikiality: Sounds Like a Job for Mythbusters

October 10, 2006


Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia where truth is determined democratically. If enough users agree that something is true, it becomes fact. Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central’s Colbert Report has coined the term Wiki-ality to describe the reality defined by such a process. This article will attempt to show that the WASL is based on Wiki-ality and does not stand up to investigation. To do this we will rely on the methods of another cable TV show, MYTHBUSTERS, wherein hosts Jamie and Adam use actual research to show what’s real and what’s fiction.


Using 21st Century Skills

May 16, 2006

Elsewhere on this web site we document what experts believe will be the basic skills of the 21st Century. For example the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory has identified digital-age literacy, inventive thinking, effective communication, and high productivity as the new basics. Closer examination of these four skill areas indicates a concentration of skills generally categorized as higher-level thinking and their use in real-world situations. Several articles on this site identify these skills and even include teaching activities to help students master them. It turns out that knowing the skills and being able to use them is not enough, however.

Creating a Collaborative Conception: Facility Futures: by Bob Valiant

May 13, 2006


In this era of top-down reform and rapid change in many aspects of education, facility planning might be likened to completing a jigsaw puzzle of a motion picture while the film is still running. Before the pieces for one image can be put in place the projector has moved to the next frame. So it is with school planning. Technology, curriculum, instruction and school organization are in a state of flux and planners are compelled to deal with each of these factors while developing a long-range plan or the design of a particular school.

One strategy for dealing with confused circumstances is to seek high ground to get a view of the entire picture and perhaps to see what is ahead. This article seeks to provide the reader with a path to the high ground. From this vantage point participants can develop a collaborative conception of what future schools could be like. We will begin by examining current social trends and the conditions they create. This will be followed by a description of a process for developing a future vision shared by the various stakeholders. The final section is a nuts-and-bolts discussion of the activities required to successfully complete the process.

Higher Level Thinking: Collecting and Oorganizing Data by Bob Valiant

June 25, 2005



In the introduction to thinking skills article “HIGHER-LEVEL THINKING SKILLS: BECOMING A SKILLED THINKER”, we discuss three classes of thinking strategies: gathering, assessing or considering, and applying data. In this article we will focus on gathering data.

Among the data-gathering skills, collecting and organizing the data are not often made explicit. Students need to learn to sift the relevant from the irrelevant and then organize into a useable format the data that has been collected.