Maybe there ought to be statewide standardized tests for parentsWashington state is a leader of the nation's vast experiment in mandatory progress tests for school children. The state's students are being treated too much like lab rats.

Faced with the prospect of open rebellion by students and parents, the Washington Legislature this spring amended its testing law to provide options for passing the Washington Assessment of Student Learning before it becomes a graduation requirement for the class of 2008.

If WASL success was a requirement today, fully two-thirds of the statewide class of 2005 would be barred from graduation based on their test scores as sophomores. Many of these students might perceive little reason to stay in school.

Washington's experience mirrors that of several other states that are throttling back plans for life making-or-breaking catch-all test. Oregon' s Certificate of Initial Mastery is included on transcripts sent to Oregon University System schools, but lacks the harsh consequence of denying high school diplomas to those who fall short.

This road has been paved with good intentions. All the state's school districts ought to be accountable for providing minimal skills and knowledge to students.

Good students don't happen. They depend on involved parents who care deeply about education. A kid can overcome just about any weakness in his or her school, providing parents are instilling a love of reading, helping with homework, asking questions, attending teacher conferences and leading by example. Maybe there ought to be statewide standard tests for parents.

School districts have vastly different financial prospects. Only when all schools are provided with equivalent resources will students have a level playing field for testing.

Standardized tests are a dull bureaucratic response when what we need are more innovative classrooms, teacher accountability and appropriate state and local funding.


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