Candidates Debate WASL - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Candidates Debate WASL

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PASCO, Wash.- Those gathered heard a heated debate front the state's education leader Friday afternoon over the Washington Assessment of Student Learning.

State education head Dr. Terry Bergeson took on Randy Dorn, the man expected to be her top challenger this fall.

The exchange was supposed to cover the total fight over education in this state, but in the end it came down to one thing, that high stakes test kids must pass to get their diplomas in this state.

Friday afternoon's educational debate quickly turned into a debate about one thing, with almost all questions dealing with the WASL 

Bergeson took the issue she's pushed for more than a decade head on in a debate with challenger Dorn.

"The writing papers in the 4th grade, the first year we did the assessment, you couldn't find a paragraph in the state of Washington, that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but not much," she noted.

Bergeson did concede changes are being made to the controversial Math section, a requirement the Legislature recently delayed amid outrage from teachers and parents who argued it wasn't fairly graded.

"Writing is a good assessment, you've gotta have kids write, I believe in that, but on the math, they're having kids compute the problem and then write it and we don't know if they're computing it correctly or if they're getting credit for the writing, we don't know where the kids are at," Dorn said.

Dorn argues for a different test, one that takes less than the two weeks WASL takes to administer and is cheaper than the costly test, and question's Bergeson's management.

"The budget of the WASL has been transferred from SPI to OFM, because I believe there's been a trust that's been broken between SPI and the legislature," he added.

Bergeson argues the test is much cheaper than opponents argue, saying it costs only $22 per student each year.