Making the High School Diploma Mean Something

Authors: Smith, Barbara Leigh

Disciplines: Education, Native American Studies, Political Science and Public Administration, Quantitative Reasoning

Themes: Activism, Education Reform

In 1997 Washington, like many states across the nation, established a new framework for assessing student performance in K-12 education believing this was key to making the high school diploma mean something. The new standards, implemented through the WASL (the Washington Assessment of Student Learning), were gradually phased in but will eventually become graduation requirements. While student performance has improved, students of color continue to have lower achievement scores than other students. This case looks at a reservation community struggling with the question of how to improve student performance on the WASL and the various factors that might explain poor performance.