Education

WPM is committed to covering education issues in Wyoming in a thoughtful and thorough way. This main page captures all education-related stories we've aired, and updates you on broad issues.

Check out our Strengthening Education Reporting page for stories focused primarily on graduation rates and how to encourage an upward trend in education.

Pete Gosar For Governor

The Wyoming Board of Education decided on Friday to recommend new science standards to Governor Matt Mead. If approved, school districts will develop new curriculum to follow the standards by the fall of 2020. 

The State Board of Education's vote to approve the new standards was unanimous. It has been 13 years since Wyoming updated science standards. Board Chairman Pete Gosar said he expects the potential change in standards to encourage districts to adopt more experience-based or hands-on curriculum when it comes to science in the classroom. 

Bob Beck

Earlier this year the Wyoming legislature cut $36 million from money they provide to school districts. Since that time districts have been trying to get that money back and convince lawmakers that additional cuts would hurt their ability to adequately teach students.  

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming says it is considering the elimination of six bachelor’s degrees, eight master’s degrees, and two doctoral degrees as part of its mandated budget cuts. 

Bachelor’s degrees recommended for elimination are: American Studies, Russian, energy systems engineering, art education, modern language education, and technical education.  

WYOMING DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATION AND INFORMATION

The new Wyoming State Librarian position has been filled by Jamie Markus who's been serving as the interim librarian for over a year now. The appointment comes in the midst of state budget discussions, but Markus said he still hopes to complete several current projects that will ultimately help improve the resources provided by local public and school libraries throughout the state.

Department of Education

Over the last several weeks we’ve gotten lots of information concerning testing of students. Some were more positive than others. To get a full assessment of how students are doing we turn to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow.

Laramie County Community College is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights for allegedly discriminating on the basis of sex in its response to a complaint of sexual violence. Representatives from the Office for Civil Rights were scheduled to appear on campus September 13 and 14.

Wyoming Department of Education

The number of Wyoming schools meeting or exceeding performance expectations increased last year. The 2016 Wyoming School Performance Ratings were released Tuesday. They show 21 more schools met state benchmarks in the 2015-2016 academic year than in the previous year.

Expectation ratings for elementary and middle schools are based on proficiency on standardized tests and grading, as well as on fairness and inclusion in the classroom. High schools are additionally rated on graduation rates and how many students are eligible for the Hathaway Scholarship.

Arizona State University

    

School districts across the country are looking to reform how schools work. One of those places is in Teton County where the Jackson Hole Institute is looking at innovative ways to teach students.

Last week the institute invited Arizona State University President Doctor Michael Crow who is recognized as a leader in innovative education to speak to them. Dr. Crow told Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck that a couple of reforms could make a big difference.

Wyoming Public Media

What changes would you like to see in your local K-12 curriculum?

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

By contributing your comment, you consent to the possibility of having it read on the air. 

A New Way To Learn

Aug 29, 2016
COURTESY: KALEIDOSCOPE PRESCHOOL SYSTEMS

A new approach to preschool education has appeared in Wyoming, this one involving classical music and yoga mats. The Kaleidoscope Preschool Systems (KPS) will teach classes by integrating music and arts with more traditional lessons. KPS Education Director Patti Whetstone says, it's an attempt to teach children in a way that inspires creativity and a new way of thinking.

"It's an exciting adventure for all of us. The students and interacting and engaged, they're moving and singing and dancing and using instruments, and I think that's wonderful," said Whetstone.

Courtesy: University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming has been working with a number of school districts across the state in an effort to change the way science is being taught in K-12 schools. Just this week ACT test scores show that Wyoming students still have a ways to go in being prepared to take college level science. With the roll out of the Next Generation Science Standards, UW has been working with districts to find new ways of teaching to those standards. 

Caroline Ballard

  

The Cathedral Home for Children just north of Laramie is a boarding school for teens that have had traumatic experiences. Besides providing a safe space, the home helps the kids deal with their emotions. This summer they’re trying something new – drumming circles.

Bob Beck

Bob Jensen has spent most of his time in Wyoming thinking about improving the economy. For ten years he led the Wyoming Business Council, the state’s economic development arm. Several months ago during a meeting of some Cheyenne entrepreneurs the idea of developing a coding school was pitched. And that discussion led to the development of Array, School of Technology and Design in downtown Cheyenne.

“It is a grassroots effort to try and effect workforce quickly for a growing tech industry in Wyoming,” said Jensen.

Casper College's Facebook

Casper College will open a student-run kitchen this fall in order to provide meals to local residents who are food insecure. That means, they don’t always know where their next meal will come from. The college’s nutrition students plan to make healthy meals from food that would otherwise have gone to waste.

Lance Madzey

Natrona County High School’s film and television program, NCTV, is hoping to raise about $15,000 to cover the costs of equipment for a new studio space in the high school’s renovated building.

Recent renovations of the school did not include a new studio space, so Lance Madzey, who has taught the program for twenty-years and his students, began fundraising in order to retrofit a classroom into a studio with editing bays. He says he is hoping his students will be able to continue to produce their usual weekly live television show.

Sheridan.edu

Gillette College officials are considering offering 4-year bachelor's degrees and master’s degrees programs in the upcoming future.

A task force formed by the Energy Capital Economic Development corporation will hire a consultant to see what funds are needed expand programs and enhanced degrees.

Liam Niemeyer

Teachers from across Wyoming took part in programming and robotics workshops on the University of Wyoming’s campus this month to learn about new ways to teach students.

During the two-week long event called “UW RAMPED,” 30 teachers learned about miniature computers that can be used in the classroom and how to program robots of different sizes. Teachers also got to interact with a human-sized robot named Baxter.

University of Wyoming

 

Wyoming President Laurie Nichols started her job on a Monday, the Monday after the Friday when Governor Matt Mead told the UW trustees that they must whack an additional $35 million from the University budget. The state’s fiscal downturn has led to a $41 million cut from the UW budget.

State Farm

The Wyoming Board of Education has changed a number of graduation requirements for Wyoming high school students. One change will allow students to prove they are competent in a subject without receiving a traditional grade.

Another will tweak the requirement for how long a student must be in a classroom, which is known as seat time. State Board member Sue Belish said that takes into account new ways of learning. 

Wyoming Education Association

  

  

Educators from across the country are meeting in Washington D.C. this week for the annual National Education conference. Kathy Vetter is the Wyoming Education Association President. While some states still struggle with funding, others have restored education money to pre-2008 levels. That’s not the case in Wyoming, where a downturn in the energy economy has led to cuts in education funding for the first time in many years. Vetter told Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck that the cuts came faster than educators thought they would. 

Sheridan.edu

Sheridan Community College is considering building a new dorm after seeing demand for on-campus housing rise the past three years.

The college was up 51 applications in April compared to last year in April, and now, all rooms at the college are booked for the fall semester. 20 students are on a wait list to live on-campus. Currently, the college can house 450 students overall.

Director of Housing and Campus Life Larissa Bonnett said a big reason why there’s more people wanting to live on-campus is for the experience.

Wikimedia Commons

University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols brought together faculty and staff Wednesday to discuss the financial crisis she declared last week at the university.

At the meeting, President Nichols detailed how the university plans to cut about $30 million over the next two years. In her plan, Nichols said the university will raise tuition by 4 percent—and eliminate 70 vacancies throughout campus. Around 50 faculty and staff will also have to voluntarily retire for the university to save enough money.

Eric Lewis via Flickr Creative Commons

Wyoming ranks 12th in the nation in child well-being, according to data released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Wyoming rose four places from last year’s report—one of the biggest improvements in the nation.

But while Wyoming ranked first for economic well-being, it came in 48th place in health in this year’s Kids Count profile, which is based on 2014 data.

University of Wyoming Facebook

Wyoming is facing difficult economic times. Last year, the state lost 6,500 jobs, mostly in oil and gas, and things haven’t much better this year. The state government is making major reductions and even Wyoming Medical Center in Casper cut 58 positions. For that reason, right now is a tough time for University of Wyoming’s graduates to enter the job force, particularly if they want to stay in the state.

Aaron Schrank

As more schools make safety and security a priority, School Resource Officers—or SROs—have become the fastest growing job in law enforcement. External threats are rare—and most research suggests that putting cops in schools actually has a negative impact on education. But proponents say, the good officers do for schools and communities can’t always be measured. Wyoming Public Radio’s Aaron Schrank spent a day with some SROs and has this report.

First Hattiesburg via Flickr Creative Commons

A report released this week by the U.S. Department of Education shows it doesn’t pay to be an early childhood teacher.

Wyoming is one of 13 states where preschool teachers earn, on average, less than half of the $56,000 annual salary earned by kindergarten teachers.

Wyoming Kids First executive director Becca Steinhoff says preschool teachers need more than $26,000 a year.  

Lucélia Ribeiro via Flickr Creative Commons

A legislative committee voted Tuesday to draft legislation that would change the way virtual education works in Wyoming.

The Wyoming Department of Education’s Distance Education Task Force met last year and came up with recommendations to expand and improve virtual or online learning in the state. The Joint Education Interim Committee voted to support those recommendations, specifically addressing those that require a change in state law.

Green River Representative John Freeman served on the task force. He says there’s a definite need for classes to be available online.

Credit: AARON SCHRANK/WPR

The Legislature’s Joint Education Committee met on Tuesday to discuss ways Wyoming can save money on K-12 education amid revenue decline.

Last year, lawmakers went through the school finance recalibration process, which happens every five years. They decided to continue funding education at the same levels they had been, instead of adopting a less costly model that would provide what consultants say are the basics needed to improve educational outcomes in Wyoming.

Wyoming Schools Chief Jillian Balow testified before a U.S. Congressional committee Tuesday in favor of a bill that would end the federal suspension on coal leases.

The Certainty for States and Tribes Act would also reinstate the Interior Department’s Royalty Policy Committee, which proponents say would ensure that states relying on revenue from federal land are treated fairly.

K-12 leaders from 28 different school districts are urging lawmakers to roll back recent cuts to education funding—and to follow Wyoming’s statutory school funding model.

They’ll meet with the Legislature’s Joint Education Committee this week and ask those lawmakers to sponsor legislation restoring $36 million dollars in cuts to school funding over the next two years.

But Committee Chairman Senator Hank Coe says that’s unlikely.

“We’ll be lucky if we’re able to fund K-12 at the levels we're funding it right now,” Coe says.

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