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Taking it to the test

Susan Notes: Yahoo! You can see a picture of the car in Cartoons. It's great to see such imagination employed in getting public attention about a flawed test.

By Jose Paul Corona

PORTLAND -- Lisa Sampson is putting her foot down about the Washington Assessment of Student Learning exam.

Her husband, Steve, helped out by putting his foot down on the gas pedal at Portland International Raceway this weekend.

An Oregon racetrack might seem a strange place to tell Washington parents about the test, but Sampson had a good reason for being there. Her group, Mothers Against WASL, sponsored a car competing in the Rose Cup race.

The black 1994 Chevrolet Camaro Z28, which hits speeds of 120 mph, was adorned with the group's "WASL-busters" logo. It was driven by Steve Sampson.

While others might take a more traditional route for their cause, Sampson had the idea of decorating her husband's race car.

"We decided to do it a couple of weeks ago," she said as engines revved in the track's pit area.

Putting the logo on the car is just another way of spreading the word, said Lisa Sampson, who is an executive board member for the organization.

The response from race fans was good all weekend long. A lot of parents don't like the exam, but they don't know how to oppose it, she said.

Sampson was ready to tell them how. Parents can request that the test not be administered to their child, she said. She also told parents that they could request copies of their child's test.

Sampson isn't opposed to testing, she's just against the WASL.

"It's a flawed test, it doesn't measure basic skills," she said as race cars slowly drove past her after the race.

She has also said that the exam tests how students think as opposed to what they know.

It's not a standardized "bubble test" that many adults took when they were in school. "It's a very subjective test" that is graded by people who aren't educators, she said.

Honor students have failed it, a test that they should easily pass, she added.

And high school students shouldn't be required to pass the test in order to graduate, she said.

Sampson has opted her son out of the test at Mountain View High School. And she plans on doing the same for her other children, who attend Ellsworth Elementary School.

"Why subject your child to a flawed test?"

Meanwhile, Steve Sampson had his own version of a pass/fail test to worry about and finished 23rd out of 51 racers. He didn't do too badly, considering that the amateur driver was racing much faster cars than he usually does.

A Chevrolet Monte Carlo that is "scary fast" won the race, he said. A Dodge Viper came in second overall.


— Jose Paul Corona
The Columbian


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