Strengthening Education In Wyoming

Strengthening Education Reporting is a reporting initiative that focuses on critical problems and successes in Wyoming ‘s education system. 

Wyoming Public Media received a Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant to strengthen education reporting in Wyoming as part of the national American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen program. This long term national public media commitment, supported by the CPB, assists public broadcasting stations in reporting on a wide array of education issues that impact on graduation rates in their communities.  

Building a strong education culture in communities starts with public awareness and involvement. Public radio reaches thousands of listeners, and can play a significant role in building awareness and focusing public attention on issues that shape education in Wyoming.

WPM’s long term goal to make this position a permanent part of the network’s reporting team. WPM is looking for support from individuals and entities who have a passion for education, and who want to make a difference in Wyoming’s future. 

Support comes from:

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and from these Wyoming Foundations:

  • Homer A. and Mildred S. Scott Foundation
  • John P. Ellbogen Foundation
  • B.F and Rose H. Perkins Foundation
  • Seidler Foundation / Sam and Carol Mavrakis
  • Joe and Arlene Watt Foundation

We welcome ideas about stories we can cover.  We also would like to hear your education success stories as well as failures.  If you’d like to share information, please email: aschran1@uwyo.edu, btwo@uwyo.edu and ckuzmych@uwyo.edu

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Open Spaces
5:22 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Westwood High School Moves To Gillette College Campus

The new Westwood High School building on Gillette College's campus.
Aaron Schrank

Students at Westwood High School—an alternative school in Gillette—are starting out the new school year in a brand new building. That means more space and state-of-the-art technology—but perhaps most important—a new location. That’s because Westwood, where most students don’t see themselves as college-bound, put up its new school building smack dab on a college campus.

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Open Spaces
3:13 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Getting To The Core Of Common Core

The Education Forum panel: Amy Edmonds, Jayne Wingate, Aaron Schrank, Kathy Vetter, and Mark Stock.
Diana Denison

Wyoming Public Media's Education Reporter, Aaron Schrank, moderated a discussion on Common Core issues in Wyoming on September 10, 2014. Panelists included University of Wyoming Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership Mark Stock, Wyoming Education Association President Kathy Vetter, Wyoming Liberty Group's Amy Edmonds and Cheyenne South High School Math Teacher Jayne Wingate.

You can watch the forum on Wyoming PBS on September 29 at 8:00pm, September 30 at 1:00pm and on October 5 at 11:00am.

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News
11:01 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Common Core 101: The Lowdown On Controversial Education Standards

Tonight, Wyoming Public Radio and Wyoming PBS will host a panel forum at UW exploring the Common Core State Standards for education. WPR Education Reporter Aaron Schrank will moderate the event, and he joined Morning Edition host Caroline Ballard to talk Common Core and what to expect from the forum.

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News
3:31 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

Wyoming Education Forum

Diana Denison

Listen Online! AIRS ON WPR: September 12 at 3:00pm, Repeats September 14 at 12pm. Listen online at wyomingpublicmedia.org.

AIRS ON Wyoming PBS: September 29 at 8:00pm, Repeats Tuesday 30 at 1:00pm and October 5 at 11:00am. wyomingpbs.org

Getting to the Core of the Common Core:

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Open Spaces
4:33 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Wyoming’s Prison Education Programs Help Keep Recidivism Rates Low

State Penitentiery, Rawlins Wyoming.
Credit Stuart and Jen Robertson via Flickr Creative Commons

Wyoming’s prison system boasts the second best recidivism rate in the country. Twenty-five percent of offenders in the state will return to prison for a parole violation or new crime—compared to 40 percent nationally. The Wyoming Department of Corrections credits its education programs—including a mandatory G.E.D course for all inmates without a high school degree— with keeping inmates from landing back behind bars.

Zach Fuhrer dropped out of high school at age 17 and had no intention of ever setting foot in another classroom.

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News
5:52 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Cheyenne Population Growth Forces Some Students Out Of Their Neighborhood Schools

School bus.
Credit Via Tsuji via Flickr Creative Commons

Tuesday was the first day of school for students in Wyoming’s largest school district—Laramie County School District One. But rapid population growth in parts of Cheyenne means some students can’t attend the schools in their neighborhoods. 

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News
7:35 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Wyoming ACT Scores Up Slightly But Lag Behind Nation

Wyoming high school students who graduated in 2014 did slightly better on the ACT, on average, than those who graduated last year. Performance results released Wednesday by the Wyoming Department of Education show an average ACT score of 20.1 for this year’s test-takers, compared to 19.8 in 2013.

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Open Spaces
4:12 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Wyoming Educators Look To Meet Demand For STEM Jobs

Ray DeStefano inspects a Lego Mindstorm EV3 robot at an info session on FIRST robotics competitions at WDE’s STEM Education Conference in Laramie.
Aaron Schrank

As Wyoming teachers gear up for another school year, there’s more emphasis than ever on improving so-called STEM education in the state. STEM is an acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As Wyoming Public Radio’s Aaron Schrank reports, the number of jobs in these fields is rapidly rising in Wyoming, and the state’s education leaders are working together to prepare.

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News
9:49 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

WDE Holds Native American Education Conference In Riverton

Credit Jimmy Emerson via Flickr Creative Commons

The Wyoming Department of Education will hold its fifth annual Native American Education Conference this week in Riverton. The goals of the conference including boosting communication between schools and the Native American families they serve—and integrating tribal culture into curriculum.

Last year, the high school graduation rate for Native American students in Wyoming was 42 percent, compared to 78 percent for all students. Conference coordinator Keja Whiteman says that gap signals the need for this event.

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Open Spaces
5:22 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Lawmakers Push UW To Focus On State Business

Royal Dutch Shell’s Tom Botts, Gov. Matt Mead and Hess Corporation President Greg Hill announce the additional $4.3 million gift outside of UW's Engineering Building in Laramie Thursday.
Credit Aaron Schrank

University of Wyoming trustees and the state’s top lawmakers are sitting around a table in Casper. On today’s agenda: the relationship between the Legislature and UW. Get-togethers like this mid-July meeting don’t happen often.

"This is the first time, and I’ve been around politics quite a while," says Senator Eli Bebout, who has spent more than 20 years in the Legislature. "Where we got with the Board of Trustees, the President and members of the leadership and other key legislators to talk about these things. It’s the way it should be."

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Open Spaces
4:49 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Wyoming Music Teachers Find Community At UW Summer Program

Professor Rod Garnett leads his group of graduate students in a gamelan session.
Aaron Schrank

It’s before 8 o’ clock in the morning, and there’s a surprising amount of noise coming from a basement classroom in UW’s library.

Inside is a group of about 25 sitting in a circle, playing instruments or humming along. For most of the year, these people are music educators teaching in schools all over Wyoming. But in the summer, they’re students themselves—in a UW summer master’s program. Today, they’re learning a melody by ear.

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Open Spaces
5:28 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

School Construction Faces Current Labor Shortage, Future Revenue Decline

Aaron Schrank

It’s a tense public meeting in Rawlins. School District officials here recently learned that the latest contractor bid to build a new Rawlins High School is $7 million dollars over budget. Carbon County School District 1 Superintendent Fletcher Turcato says Rawlins isn’t interested in making cuts.

“Four months ago, we were within budget—and because of a bidding climate, now they want us to continue to take money out of this project,” Turcato said. “That’s not going to happen. The Board said it’s not going to happen. We’re not going to do that to the people of Rawlins.”

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Education
6:10 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Board Of Education Votes To Suspend Science Standards Review

Credit Dennis Wilkinson via Flickr Creative Commons

The State Board of Education is asking the Wyoming Department of Education to stop work on development of a new set of science standards.

The Department recently formed a science standards review committee of about 50 teachers, administrators, higher education representatives and businesspeople to develop new science standards. That group was supposed to meet several times this summer before presenting suggestions to the Board and public in the fall.

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Open Spaces
5:16 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Privacy Concerns Swirl Around Statewide Student Database

A second grade student gets right to work as classes start at Greenwood Elementary School in Des Moines, IA.
Credit Phil Roeder via Flickr Creative Commons

Nationwide, including Wyoming, states are working to build huge databases that can track students from preschool all the way into the workforce. In the brave new world of big data, the thought is—more information means smarter education policy decisions and improved learning. But some parents worry that these systems will go too far.

At Laramie County Community College, a classroom full of people is talking about control groups and independent variables. It’s not as exciting as it sounds, but it is important.

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News
4:32 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Wheatland Tornado Shelter Project Wins National Prize

Christian Moody, Jacob Stafford, Joey Madsen, and Haiden Moody present their project in Washington, D.C.

A group of 8th graders from Wheatland Middle School who built a tornado shelter for a school competition won the top national prize for their efforts last week.

Haiden Moody, Christian Moody, Joey Madsen and Jacob Stafford spent the past few months engineering a tornado safety shelter converted from an old set of school lockers. It was part of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math competition put on by the U.S. Army called eCYBERMISSION.

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Open Spaces
4:24 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Wyoming Colleges Look To Increase Support For Student Veterans

Marty Martinez inside the University of Wyoming’s Veterans Services Center.
Credit Aaron Schrank

Robert Sheetz spent five years in the U.S. Navy, working on a flight deck, fixing fighter jets. When he got out, the Colorado native came to Wyoming—to put his GI Bill benefit toward an anthropology degree.     

“I was a 23-year-old freshman coming into the University of Wyoming, coming from an area where I had a huge structure system around me from being in the military,” Sheetz said.  “So I had to kind of learn to build that system for myself and figure out how to be a college student after not being in school for five years.”

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News
11:03 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Wyoming Educators To Push Reforms At NEA Meeting

National Education Association headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Credit Alice B. via Flickr Creative Commons

This month, thousands of educators from around the country will gather in Denver to discuss public education issues and set policies for the coming year at the National Education Association’s annual meeting. 

Wyoming Education Association President Kathy Vetter says one the biggest problems in the state is that teachers' perspectives are often absent from policy initiatives in public education.

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Open Spaces
5:57 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Dropouts Get Second Chance At National Guard’s Cowboy Challenge Academy

Credit Wyoming Cowboy ChalleNGe Academy

Nearly 1 in 5 Wyoming high school students drop out every year. Today, we take a look at a program that aims to find dropouts and get them back on track before it’s too late. And as Aaron Schrank reports, it’s run not by the state’s Education Department, but it’s Military Department.

SCHRANK: When Francisco Jovel dropped out of Pinedale High School last year, he was three years behind on class credits. He’d been in and out of the Wyoming Boys’ School in Worland for breaking and entering and theft. He was running out of options.

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Open Spaces
5:19 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Wheatland Students Recognized For Potentially Lifesaving School Project

Miken Harnish, Christian Moody, Joey Madsen Haiden Moody, and Jacob Stafford pose with their project.
Courtesy Zach Gunter

When four 8th graders at Wheatland Middle School were asked to put their heads together to solve a real problem in their community, they thought back to the biggest crisis in recent memory—the quarter-mile-wide twister that touched down near their town in 2012. Jacob Stafford, Joey Madsen, Haiden Moody and Christian Moody remember the day the tornado very hit well. And it made an impression them, because it was just miles from their school.

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Open Spaces
4:35 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Superintendent Hill On Distance Learning And Graduation Rates

After some legal wrangling, State Superintendent Cindy Hill is back in charge of Wyoming Education.  As the school year wraps up, Superintendent Hill joins us to discuss a number of topics.  The first deals with distance…or online education.  She recently attended a graduation of students who graduated from a virtual school. Hill embraces various uses of technology in the classroom.

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Open Spaces
4:31 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Wyoming Seniors Say ‘So Long’ To High School

Graduates at Riverton High School line up to receive their diplomas.
Credit Aaron Schrank

Graduation season is here. Commencement ceremonies around the state mark the start of a new chapter for many of Wyoming’s high school seniors. Wyoming Public Radio’s Aaron Schrank caught up with the class of 2014 to see how they feel about the big day—and the future.

It’s the last hurrah for graduating seniors at Casper’s Kelly Walsh High School. The Casper Events Center is packed, and the graduates are in high spirits.

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News
7:02 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Wyoming Requests Waiver From No Child Left Behind Tutoring Provision

City Year corps member tutoring a middle school student
Credit Andy Dean via Flickr Creative Commons

The Wyoming Department of Education wants federal officials to allow schools labeled as "needing improvement" to provide tutoring and remedial help to students.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools that need improvement—based on state assessments—are not allowed to provide tutoring, forcing students to turn to outside providers.

Brent Young is Assistant Director of Instruction at Laramie County School District 1. He says allowing struggling schools to provide these services is positive.

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Topic of the Week
2:12 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

What's the most pressing education issue in Wyoming?

What is the most pressing education issue in Wyoming? 

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

News
12:20 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Wyoming Graduation Rates Fall For Fourth Straight Year

High school seniors on graduation day.
Credit U.S. Department of Education via Flickr Creative Commons

High school graduation rates in Wyoming dropped for the fourth year in a row, according to data released Monday by the Wyoming Department of Education. 

About 78 percent of Wyoming high school students graduated on time during the 2012 - 2013 school year, down from more than 80 percent four years ago.

In the same period, Laramie 1 school district in Cheyenne, the largest district in the state, saw its graduation rate fall from near 77 percent to below 72 percent.

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Topic of the Week
9:26 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Is Common Core good for Wyoming Education?

Is Common Core good for Wyoming Education?

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

(View the Common Core Standards by clicking here.)

Open Spaces
3:49 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Education Standards Are Facing Opposition In Wyoming

Members of the public attend the State Board of Education meeting in Casper.
Credit Bob Beck

For years parents and educators have been looking at ways to improve elementary education. Recently many states, including Wyoming, adopted common core standards that supporters believe will give students and schools goals to shoot for in Math and Language Arts. 

The state is also in the process of adopting other state standards, including a set of controversial science standards.  But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports there is a growing movement against any standards that are not developed by local school boards. 

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Open Spaces
3:44 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Governor Mead Discusses Wind River Reservation Boundary Dispute And Education

It’s been a few months since we’ve had Governor Matt Mead on the program.  He joins Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck to discuss a dispute over boundaries in Riverton and Education.

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Topic of the Week
8:15 am
Tue April 15, 2014

What are your views on the proposed Next Generation Science Standards for Wyoming students?

What are your views on the proposed Next Generation Science Standards for Wyoming students?

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

News
7:47 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Board Of Education Takes No Action On Science Standards

The state Board of Education met in Casper today to adopt some state standards, including a controversial set of national Next Generation Science Standards. The legislature prohibited the Board from adopting those standards. Bob Beck joins us to talk about what happened at the meeting.

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Open Spaces
3:31 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

UW Center Seeks To Improve Literacy

Credit courtesy UW

Last month the University of Wyoming opened a Literacy Research Center and clinic that should enhance literacy at all levels across the state.  It will allow face to face tutoring, train tutors and teachers, and use technology in interesting new ways.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.  

VICKI GILLIS:  “I see this as being on the cutting edge of work in literacy, K-12, and beyond.

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