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.

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The Wyoming Department of Education is seeking public comment on revised Graduation Requirements. 

Called Chapter 31, it clarifies requirements for demonstrating competency in the nine required content areas needed for graduation. It also, empowers districts to decide what methods they’ll use to guarantee those requirements are met.            

Natrona County Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Walt Wilcox said the amended rules will make assessment less complex for administrators, and also benefit students.

Wyoming Department of Education

Wyoming has seen its first drop in student enrollment in more than a decade according to data collected by the state Department of Education. Districts lose money when enrollment declines. The good news is that enrollment funding is based on a three year rolling average.

Department of Education Communications Director, Kari Eakins, said that gives school districts a little bit more time to make wise cuts.

The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Education Committee released a document outlining possible solutions to Wyoming’s education funding crisis and has asked for immediate public input.

The Subcommittee on Education Deficit Reduction Options was tasked with offering strategies to address the current funding model, while maintaining the quality of public education.

Teton County Education Foundation

While educators across the state are facing budget cuts, teachers and staff in the Teton County School District have something to look forward to in the New Year. The Teton County Education Foundation granted approximately $23,000 in support of 68 teacher-driven projects in public schools beginning in January.

Susan Eriksen-Meier is the executive director at the Teton County Education Foundation.  She said applications to the Classroom Grants Program doubled this year.

Bob Beck

 

It’s been a rough year for state officials. A greater than expected revenue decline last spring forced lawmakers to cut $67 million out of existing budgets, and the governor was forced to follow-up with an additional $250 million. While revenues are starting to show some moderate improvement, lawmakers will soon be debating the wisdom of even more cuts, especially as a revenue shortfall for education looms.

National Blue Ribbon Schools Program

How should state lawmakers resolve the education funding shortfall?

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

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

Aaron Schrank

 

Emotions are running high following the 2016 presidential election. Educators in Jackson are helping their large number of Mexican students cope with emotions they may be encountering at home.

“We have to determine what's important. Was my wig, really important?” asks teacher Thomas Ralston.

“No!” respond his third-grade class.

“So do I think if I used my earth and space book, every single thing in my earth and space book should go in my report?” he asks.

“No!” respond the students.

University of Wyoming

Wyoming lawmakers will soon be asked to add a University of Wyoming non-voting ex-officio member to the State Board of Education. The legislature’s Joint Education Committee voted to sponsor a bill that would make that possible. Jim Rose currently sits on the board on behalf of the community colleges.  

Board of Education Chair Pete Gosar said it only makes sense to have higher education members on the board.

Associated Press

Northern Arapahoe Schools have launched an iPad application that will help teach both children and teachers the Arapahoe language.

Currently only one percent of Northern Arapaho members speak their language fluently. To grow that number, last May schools gave students in Pre-K through 12th grade 450 iPads installed with a new app that teaches the Arapaho Language.

In our language, our words are strong, they are powerful,” said Wayne C’Hair, an Arapaho elder.

“Sometimes it takes four English words to make one Arapaho word.”

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says the state’s biggest future budget concern is K-12 education funding. During a news conference discussing his current budget request, the governor said school funding could face a shortfall of over $600 million in the next budget cycle.  

To address the issue the governor is once again pushing to create a task force that would focus on school funding issues. He said the task force needs to include parents and educators.              

The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Education committee is drafting two pieces of legislation that could significantly reduce the amount of money that school districts get through the school funding model.  

One would raise the class sizes in the funding model, which would lead to the reduction of millions of dollars that currently flow to school districts. Sweetwater County School District two is based in Green River. 

Rebecca Huntington

After years of controversy, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has signed into law a new set of K-12 science standards. In 2014, state legislators passed a bill blocking adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards because they acknowledged man-made climate change as fact. 

State Superintendent Jillian Balow says, since then, her staff has reviewed a dozen other standards, and taken public input on what Wyoming standards should say.

Wyoming Citizen Science Conference

The University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute will host the first Wyoming Citizen Science Conference in Lander December 1.

Citizen Science programs give regular people the chance to work alongside trained scientists on larger research projects in their own natural areas. Conference organizer Brenna Marsicek said biology and astronomy are especially good fits for citizen scientists, since they can easily gather data by simply looking around their own environment

Melodie Edwards

  

Look around Lynette St. Clair's Shoshone language and culture classroom at Wyoming Indian Middle School, and you’ll see this isn’t the usual Wyoming social studies class. There’s vintage photos of famous Shoshone people, a miniature tepee, and the white board is scribbled with Shoshone words and translations. And what the kids are learning is unusual too. The students are reading a speech by Shoshone chief Washakie from the 19th century. St. Clair teaches them key words from the speech in Shoshone.

Melodie Edwards

Wyoming educators will have access to a new curriculum focused on conveying an accurate history of the state’s two tribes. 

Wyoming PBS collaborated with Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribal leaders to create videos showing native elders and educators discussing the history, culture and government of each tribe. Each of the six videos comes with follow-up lesson plans aligning with Wyoming state standards. 

Wyoming Department of Education

State residents will have the opportunity to give the Wyoming Department of Education input on how they should implement a new federal education law. Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, in December, which gives states more authority over education. 

University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols unveiled the proposed budget cuts for Fiscal Year 2018 at a town hall meeting Wednesday. The cuts total about $10 million, with nearly $6 million of that coming from division cuts, and the rest through retirement incentives, eliminating vacancies on campus, and increased efficiency. The cuts do not include layoffs.

President Nichols said there was talk of cutting up to $15 million, but the consensus was to go a more conservative route and adjust later if the state decides to cut the university budget further.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Enrollment is down slightly this fall at the University of Wyoming. UW officials say that enrollment declined by 234 students compared to fall of last year. The decrease startled Sara Axelson, Vice President of Student Affairs, who said the decrease was due to fewer out of state students.

Caroline Ballard

University of Wyoming Police said they received a report of a sexual assault in a campus apartment over the weekend. UW Police Chief Michael Samp said the suspect has not been found but was reported as a white male about 20-years-old. 

NATIONAL BLUE RIBBON SCHOOLS PROGRAM

Three Wyoming elementary schools have received the National Blue Ribbon Recognition for exemplary high performance. Fort Casper Academy in Natrona County, Wilson Elementary in Teton County and South Side Elementary in Worland were amongst 330 public and private schools in the U.S. selected to receive this award.

Capture Queen

Sheridan's Center for a Vital Community is hosting a symposium this week to discuss what communities can do to set children on a path toward success. The event is titled "Building Communities where Children and Families Thrive", and is focused on the science of childhood development and the practices that support lifelong wellbeing.

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.  

Todd Guenther

It’s late afternoon at the base of Dinwoody Glacier, and its creek is roaring with melted ice nearby. It's been a long day of digging for archeology students Crystal Reynolds, Morgan Robins and Nico Holt. 

“We love digging holes!” they say, laughing. “We love playing in the dirt.”

“It's like playing hide and seek with people you never met,” says Holt.

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.

Melodie Edwards

The Journey In

It’s a hard 23 mile hike into the Wind River Range to one of the state’s largest glaciers. It’s called Dinwoody, and every step is a study in the powerful impact this glacier has had on these mountains in the last 1.5 million years.

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.

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