iPods a lure for WASL test prep
Attention Seattle high-school students: Want an iPod? Did you fail reading or math on the 10th-grade Washington Assessment of Student Learning...
Seattle Times education reporter
iPod shuffle giveawayWho's eligible: Seattle high-school students who have failed math or reading on the 10th-grade WASL, then complete Summer College with two or fewer absences.
How to register: Call Seattle Public Schools by Tuesday at 206-252-0815.
Attention Seattle high-school students: Want an iPod? Did you fail reading or math on the 10th-grade Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL)?
If you answered yes to both questions, Seattle has an iPod shuffle for you. The catch? You must spend five weeks in one of two WASL-prep summer programs.
The programs are free. But only about 80 students have signed up so far, with room for 270 more.
The city hopes the programs, a joint project with Seattle Public Schools and Seattle Community Colleges, will help students want to learn for learning's sake.
City officials are offering the shuffles, which retail at $79, as an incentive to get students in the door.
"For the subset of students who have lost motivation ... this is worth a try," said Holly Miller, director of the city's Office for Education.
The programs, called Summer College, are designed to help students pass the WASL and to give them the chance to experience college life.
One program focuses on math, with one-on-one tutoring available to students who scored very low on the math WASL. The other is for students who failed math or reading on the 10th-grade WASL, and includes classes in literacy, math, and enrichment courses. They are offered at North Seattle and South Seattle community colleges. Lunch and a free Metro bus pass are included.
Seattle Public Schools has worked hard to interest students in both Summer College programs, said district spokeswoman Patti Spencer. Officials have tried to call all eligible students, she said.
But turnout this year has been much lower than last, probably in part because state legislators voted this year to postpone the date when students must pass the math section of the 10th-grade WASL to graduate. Students in the class of 2008 and beyond still must pass the reading and writing sections, but math won't be a requirement for six more years.
A tutoring company helping with the programs came up with the idea of the iPod incentive, Miller said, saying it has worked well in other cities.
A donor, who wants to remain anonymous, will pay for the iPods for all students who complete the math-tutoring program. The city will buy iPods for students in the second program.
Students sometimes are offered other incentives for learning, such as a book, or even the chance to win Sonics tickets.
But this may be the first time that all students who complete a program will receive such a pricey gift.
It remains to be seen whether an iPod shuffle will be enough to entice high-school students away from jobs and other summer activities.
Students may come for the iPod, Miller said, but last year those who completed the classes left with more confidence and a better attitude about school.
If an iPod can buy that, she said, it's worth it.
Linda Shaw: 206-464-2359 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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