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Seniors need WASL to graduate

Fifteen Oak Harbor High School students will be waiting until early June to learn if they met one of the new graduation requirements.

They are the remaining seniors who haven't passed the reading and writing sections of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, which is a graduation requirement starting with this year's graduating class. Their most recent chance to take the test was last week; now all they can do is wait for the results.

High school Associate Principal Bill Weinsheimer said that the WASL results will be available in the first part of June. Graduation is scheduled for June 16 at Wildcat Memorial Stadium.

He said if any of the 15 seniors still haven't passed the assessment, they will have several options to meet the requirement. They can retake the WASL in August, or they can prove they are proficient in the two subjects by presenting a collection of evidence, or they can use scores from college entrance exams, such as the ACT or SAT.

At Coupeville High School, there was just one student who had to take the reading and writing portion of the WASL last week.

Whether students who haven't met the WASL requirement will walk down the aisle with their classmates during the graduation ceremony is another question.

Generally students have to complete all graduation requirements in order to walk in the June ceremony. Special Education students, who have an individualized education plan, can walk without having met all the broader requirements.

Assistant Superintendent Lance Gibbon said many of the 15 seniors who haven't passed the WASL are missing other requirements as well. They either don't have enough credits or they haven't developed a "high school and beyond plan" or haven't completed their culminating project.

"The WASL isn't what's tipping the scale for them," Gibbon said.

He said officials don't know yet if there are any students who need only to pass the WASL to complete their graduation requirements. It would be up to the school board to decide whether to make an exception to the graduation policy. The exception for special education students stems from state legislation known as Kevin's Law.

The 15 Oak Harbor seniors joined approximately 600 other students who spent four days last week taking the reading and writing portions of the WASL. In addition to the sophomores who were required to take the exam, approximately 80 juniors and 187 freshmen also took it.

In April, approximately 800 students, or more than half of the student body, will take the math and science portions of the assessment.

Passing the math portion was originally a graduation requirement, however, the Legislature eased up on that mandate. Students who haven't passed the WASL will now have to continue taking math classes until they pass the assessment or graduate.

As things now stand in the ever-changing WASL picture, students in the Class of 2013 are the first who will have to pass the math and science portions of the WASL in order to graduate.

Students have five chances to pass the WASL during their high school careers.

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