This year’s Washington state sophomores will have to pass the state exam to earn a high school diploma. Failure rates are very high for low-income black and Hispanic students. The Seattle Times talks to the principals of two high schools with low-income Hispanic students and low test scores. One is confident his students can pass the test; the other thinks there’s not enough time to bring them up to speed.
(Principal Richard) Esparza is one of the optimists. The pressure of the WASL, which 10th-graders finished last week, is just what’s needed, he says, to bring attention and resources to his Latino students — the largest and fastest-growing ethnic group in Washington schools.
Thirty miles up the highway, however, Yakima schools Superintendent Ben Soria says it “borders on the inhumane” to withhold diplomas starting in 2008. In his office, he has big charts showing test scores going up and up. But not fast enough, he says, to get close to 100 percent in two years.
Maybe I’m just a glass-half-full kind of gal, but I see principals working hard to raise the achievement of students who’d otherwise end up with skills that will qualify them to mop floors for the rest of their lives.