The Wyoming Department of Education recently released the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students – or PAWS – results. In reading, the state improved by about 2 percentage points, but the Arapahoe School on the Wind River Reservation, which serves 350 Native American students, jumped an average of 13 points.
Last August, the Arapahoe school approached the Wyoming Department of Education for help. 2011 PAWS results showed low proficiency in reading and the school wanted assistance in improving students’ performance. Arapahoe and the Department of Education agreed on a concentrated literacy program called Wyoming Read, or WYR. Students who were chosen to participate – about 125 students total – participated in 50 small group lessons. Instructional Leader for the Department of Education, Shirley Lain, says the approach was straight forward.
"Kind of a common sense approach to intervening with kids is to get into smaller and smaller group sizes with a tutor or with an expert adult. So, WYR is just one-on-one or one-on-two or three small group intervention using really good reading comprehension strategies," said Lain.
Most grades saw a jump in the 2012 PAWS results, with 4thgraders showing 58%proficiency from last year’s 18%. Seventh graders, however, went from 64%last year to 59%. Despite the overall significant improvements, Arapahoe’s results are still far below the state average of 78%proficient-or-advanced for tested students.
Lain says some challengers for the Arapahoe school include its remote location, highly transient students, low attendance, and high turnover of leadership in the school. It’s not yet clear if the WYR program will continue next year.