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.

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming College of Education has received a $4.5-million-dollar grant to improve its preparation of K-12 educators.

The grant comes from nonprofit The Daniels Fund, which gave the college $500,000 earlier this year to plan its initiative to achieve national prominence in teacher prep.

UW Board of Trustees President Dave Palmerlee says that initiative began after trustees met with legislative leadership last year.

Credit Zach Montes

A visit by immigration officials to Jackson this month put many in the town’s immigrant community on edge.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement came to Jackson to find and arrest five undocumented men that met the federal government’s enforcement priorities.

David Amsler via Flickr Creative Commons

Platte County School District is affirming students’ right to pray in school after an incident this year drew the attention of a national Christian legal advocacy group.

In October, some students formed a prayer circle in Glendo High School’s cafeteria. Administrators say a parent lunch monitor and the school principal told the students to pray elsewhere because of concerns about separation of church and state.

Rebecca Martinez

A legislative committee has approved a bill that would increase the dollar amounts provided to students through Hathaway scholarships by 10 percent.

The full legislature will consider the proposal in February’s budget session.

The Joint Education Committee had asked its staff to draft a bill that would have increased the scholarships by about 19 percent, but lawmakers amended it down on Tuesday.

Laramie Senator Chris Rothfuss was among those who wanted to keep the proposed increase higher.

First Hattiesburg Church via Flickr Creative Commons

In its last meeting before the upcoming budget session, the Legislature’s Joint Education Committee forwarded a bill that could expand early childhood education in some school districts.

Districts apply for grant money through a program called BRIDGES—and are allowed to spend that money on afterschool and summer programming. The new legislation would also allow districts to spend that money on early learning, if they choose.

Wyoming Kids First executive director Becca Steinhoff says it’s a step in the right direction.

Aaron Schrank

A legislative committee voted Monday to draft a bill that would exempt Wyoming’s alternative schools from the state’s accountability act.

Under the proposed law, alternative school performance would be evaluated by a different standard than that used to assess traditional schools.

Proponents of the bill say the general accountability model can’t make valid conclusions about alternative school performance.

Republican Representative Mike Madden of Buffalo voted against the bill. He says holding alternative schools to a different standard could cause problems. 

Flickr Creative Commons

Lawmakers voted Monday to draft a bill that would make some changes to K-12 testing in Wyoming.

The bill—sponsored by the Legislature’s select committee on statewide education accountability—would enact most of the recommendations of a recent state testing task force.

The legislation proposes that students would be tested in third through tenth grade at the end of the year. Wyoming's test would be offered in more than one state, to allow for comparison. The test would be offered online, and test preparation would have to account for less than 1 percent of classroom time.

uwyo.edu

The third and final candidate for the University of Wyoming presidency visited the Laramie campus Monday.

Jeremy Haefner is Provost at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The next President may need to cut the U.W budget by as much as $5 million. When Haefner was the Dean of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs he was faced with a 20% budget cut. He says his approach was to brainstorm with faculty and staff about what could be done. Haefner says he’d take a similar approach at Wyoming.

Willow Belden

How might Wyoming benefit now that No Child Left Behind has been replaced?  

Comment on this topic on the Wyoming Public Media Facebook page.

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

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

Bob Beck

 

It took Congress eight years and countless hours of listening to angry teachers and parents, but 'No Child Left Behind' is soon to be a thing of the past.

Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi is now the Budget Chairman, but once upon a time he was the top Republican on the Education Committee. So he’s been calling for this education overhaul for some time. But Enzi said he wasn’t surprised that it took so long to scrap the law.

“Actually, we’ve got bills whose authorization expired as early as 1983 so seven years on something as important as education is not a surprise.”

Wyoming Legislature

The legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee has wrapped up its first week of budget hearings. The committee heard from the governor early in the week and has started reviewing agency budgets. The governor wants to eventually divert money going into the state’s permanent mineral trust fund in an effort to keep the state budget where it is. While lawmakers have mixed thoughts on that idea, but they are more concerned that the governor has not given more thought to a major budget threat. 

Department of Education

  

This week, President Obama signed the ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’. It passed through Congress with bipartisan support and now replaces ‘No Child Left Behind’ as the latest version of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act. In Wyoming, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow is praising the federal education overhaul. She spoke with Wyoming Public Radio’s Aaron Schrank about what the new law means for the state. 

Wyoming U.S. Senator Mike Enzi is thrilled with legislation that will revamp the No Child Left Behind education law.

Enzi sat on the conference committee that came up with the final version of the bill. He said it returns the responsibility of educating students back to states and school districts. 

Aaron Schrank/WPR

The second of three candidates for the University of Wyoming presidency visited campus Wednesday to interview for the job.

Laurie Stenberg Nichols has served as a provost at South Dakota State University for the past 7 years. She also earned her degree there as a first-generation college student. Nichols told students, faculty, staff and others at a public forum that she connects with UW’s land grant mission.

Jimmy Emerson, DVM via Flickr Creative Commons

As the number of people taking the GED exam in Colorado drops, more are traveling to Wyoming to take alternatives to the test.

The GED exam was revamped, computerized and privatized last year. Wyoming offers another test for those seeking an equivalent to a high school diploma—called the HiSET—while Colorado does not.

Kelly Willmarth is program manager of the adult career and education system at Laramie County Community College. She says, so far this year, 30 percent of her HiSET test-takers in Cheyenne were from Colorado. That’s up from 11 percent last year.

WPR/Aaron Schrank

The first of three finalist candidates for the University of Wyoming presidency visited campus Monday to meet with faculty, staff, students and others.

Duane Nellis has been the President of Texas Tech University in Lubbock since 2013. Nellis says serving under a chancellor in the Texas Tech system can be a challenge—with no clear line of authority.

Aaron Schrank

With about 600 students, Wyoming Virtual Academy—or WYVA—is the largest online learning program in the state. But the only physical trace of it is a nondescript 3-person office building in Lusk.

“This office here, we have our registrar here, our compliancy coordinator, and myself the operations manager,” says Kristen Stauffer.

She points out a map of Wyoming hanging in the office lobby. It’s dotted with pushpins—each representing a recent WYVA graduate.  

A change in accreditation requirements could be bad news for many of Wyoming’s college professors.

The Higher Learning Commission accredits the University of Wyoming and the state’s 7 community colleges. The agency released new guidelines in October.

They say that professors teaching courses where credits will be transferred to four-year colleges must have a master’s degree and 18 graduate-level credit hours in their subject areas.

Craig Ferris begins his morning with an unscheduled stop in his black suburban.

"I usually have to come get these guys at least once a week," Ferris says, honking his horn.

Ferris is best known around here as the basketball coach who's led Wyoming Indian High School to four state championships. But he also works for the elementary school as what's called a "home-school coordinator."

The job seems to be equal parts mailman, social worker and taxi driver.

Wyoming Department of Education

Wyoming’s plan to improve equal access to quality teachers has received federal approval.

The U.S. Department of Education mandated all states to identify equity gaps and develop plans to fix them.

Wyoming’s equity planning committee found two major gaps. Students in “high poverty” and “high minority” schools were more likely to have high teacher turnover in their schools. They were also less likely to learn from high-quality special educators.

WSBA via Facebook

School board members from across Wyoming met last week to vote on legislative priorities for the years ahead.

Wyoming School Board Association considered 22 resolutions. Many of those that passed addressed school accountability and funding.

Other resolutions include support for early childhood education efforts and stricter attendance policies. Association Executive Director Brian Farmer says the group’s calling to raise the mandatory school attendance age.

Since coal companies are no longer buying coal leases, Wyoming may need to find a new way to fund school construction.

Friday the legislature’s joint revenue committee was asked to support legislation that would increase either property or sales taxes to pay for school construction.  But several legislators say it’s too early to consider a tax.  Revenue Committee member Tom Reeder has voted against the last several budgets and he’s calling for lawmakers to stop spending first. 

“I have heard nobody talk about…we could make government more efficient by doing XYZ.”

Wyoming Legislature

  

This week, the Legislature’s Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration recommended that the state stick with the same school funding model it’s been using for the past decade. That means school districts would get basically the same amount of money they have been getting.

UW

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees voted Friday to raise student tuition by 4 percent next school year. The move is in line with a policy adopted by the Board last year to review a possible increase like this annually.  

UW spokesman Chad Baldwin says the approved hike will generate $2 million in revenue.

Wyoming Public Media

On November 18, Aaron Schrank hosted a live Twitter chat with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. He posed questions about career readiness, as WDE recently created its Wyoming Career Readiness Council and is working to create a strategic plan to improve career readiness in Wyoming schools. The hashtag #WPREdTalk allowed for anyone to tweet questions.

Read through the Twitter chat below.

Aaron Schrank/WPR

After months of work, a legislative committee decided Tuesday not to make any changes to the way schools are funded. 

The Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration voted not to draft a new school funding bill, but to stick with the model the state has used for the past decade.

Department of Education

This Wednesday, November 18, from 5:45pm to 6:30pm, Aaron Schrank will be hosting a live Twitter chat with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. He'll be posing questions about career readiness, as WDE recently created its Wyoming Career Readiness Council and is working to create a strategic plan to improve career readiness in Wyoming schools.

On Twitter, use the hashtag #WPREdTalk. Anyone can tweet questions using that hashtag, and Aaron will be picking some of those questions to pose to the Superintendent.

Photo by Ikhlasul Amal, Flickr Creative Commons

 

Inside the home of the Williams family, in Centennial, Wyoming, it looks like a cross between a classroom and a call center. Five children, ages six through 16 are wearing headsets and staring at computer screens.

“Mom, what are we doing next?” yells 6-year-old Selah Williams.

“I think we’ll do reading,” says Liz Williams. “Do you want to get your storybook out?”

The Williams kids are full-time students at Wyoming Virtual Academy—or WYVA—one of two statewide virtual public schools in Wyoming. Liz says WYVA allows her to be more hands-on with their learning.

Wyoming Arts Council

A national arts education organization has selected Wyoming to be part of a three-year program to strengthen the arts in schools. Americans for the Arts has awarded grants to ten states for pilot programs to improve arts education policies.

The Wyoming Arts Council’s Michael Shay says the first step is a survey to evaluate what resources art educators have and need.

Flickr Creative Commons, Photo by 401kcalculator.org

Some community colleges in Wyoming are anticipating drops in state and local revenue, amid an oil and gas downturn.

Wyoming’s 7 community colleges receive about 60 percent of their funding from the state, 20 percent from local property taxes, and the other 20 from tuition.

While some colleges will see their local revenue impacted, Wyoming Community College Executive Director Jim Rose says the state has not announced it will cut any funding for community colleges.

Pages