The Wyoming Department of Education has announced it must change how it accredits school districts — yet another consequence of budget cuts mandated by the state legislature.
The department was contracting with AdvancED, an independent accreditor, to ensure districts were adhering to standards, but that work will now be handled internally.
According to figures provided by the WDE, the total cut to the accreditation budget for 2017-2018 is $966,967, and an additional $473,544 cut is projected for 2019-2020. The cost of the AdvancEd contract is $767,408. When it ends on June 30, 2018 the WDE will transition to a new system.
Dicky Shanor is the WDE Chief of Staff. He said what started as a cost-saving measure, has opened up conversation with districts about how to make accreditation more effective.
“We took a survey of districts and asks them about AdvancED.” Shanor said the survey inquired about “what their thoughts were and whether they would like to continue with it or whether they would like to look at a peer-to-peer review, or whether they would like to do a state-driven accreditation model.”
The exact procedure will be shaped by a taskforce, and Shanor said the WDE feels confident in the decision to manage accreditation itself.
“We do have support from districts to move in this direction from the feedback we’ve received,” said Shanor. “And then we hope to be able to augment the accreditation process with the recommendations from this taskforce as well.”
The criteria schools must uphold in order to be accredited are set by state statute and the process is also reviewed by the state board of education. Shanor said the move from a third party agency to a state driven model will not diminish accountability.