The WASL Generation

I had a rather severe flashback to the WASL (Washington Assessment of Student Learning) today when I went to a school “development assessment” for ASU students.  It is called the CLA (Collegiate Learning Assessment), and has no impact on your academic status at all – it’s just used as a diagnostic tool for the university.  Regardless, it still gave me the heebie-jeebies.   Even the tests’ official websites are EerilySimilar.

What really gets to me is the similarity in the forms.  Both are essay-based, and both require analysis of a set of documents.  I’ve taken the CLA as a freshman and sophomore (not as a junior for some reason) and now as a senior, but this year was the worst.  I can’t really talk about the content of the test, but I will say that the documents and questions can’t have been much above a fourth-grade level.  And the dates on the “documents” were over a decade old.  Immediately I was ten years old again, opening my WASL in Mrs. Jokinen’s fourth-grade classroom, cringing in the hushed silence.

Of course, the CLA is computerized, so the slight background noise came from clicking keys rather than scratching number-two pencils.  But I came to the conclusion that I have been forever scarred by the WASL, in ways that the PSAT, SAT, and even AP tests fail to match.  The anxiety and stress of it was repeatedly battered into my brain during my K-12 years.

It began in 1997, a couple of years before my class took it.  The WASL was discontinued in 2008; meaning my class was the last group of seniors to take it.  It made us a subgroup of the Millenial generation hailing exclusively from the state of Washington – the WASL generation.

And it made me loathe document-analysis essay-tests. FOREVER.


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