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

View information on NPR State Impact Education programs from the following links:
Florida, Indiana, Ohio.

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

What are your thoughts on bilingual education in Wyoming schools?

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The Wyoming Department of Education is putting together a board of teachers to offer advice on several education issues. They’re looking for feedback on teacher training options, classroom needs and potential policy changes.

Chief Strategy Officer for the Department of Education, Leighton Thomas says teachers have valuable firsthand knowledge of the conditions, strengths and needs of the state’s schools.

Wyoming’s fourth and eighth grade students outperformed the national average in reading and mathscores in the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAPE scores.

The test is administered every two years. Wyoming did especially well in 4th grade math where it improved by three points from 2011 and five points from 2009.   State Education Director Rich Crandall is pleased.

North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp has introduced a bill to create a Commission on Native Children. The Commission’s goal is to investigate problems specific to Native children and make recommendations for improving them.

Mortality has increased for Native children since 2000, and they're overrepresented in foster care, have high suicide rates, and lower graduation rates than white students. On the Wind River Indian Reservation the graduation rate for students is around 50 percent. The statewide graduation for all students is closer to 80 percent.  

The recent Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, or CREG, report indicated some positive things for Wyoming's revenue picture, but within the report there are also concerns. 

Campbell County Representative Sue Wallis says one serious concern stands out.

"There's a very strong potential of a time...not very far out...when we've got a real problem with our education funding."

http://townmapsusa.com/d/map-of-buffalo-wyoming-wy/buffalo_wy

After a lengthy discussion, the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee voted to support a two-percent external cost adjustment for public schools. 

The external cost adjustment would address inflation issues within the school funding model, and is used by most districts to pay for salary increases.  Lawmakers have been reluctant to support an ECA over the last several years due to budget concerns, and the appropriations committee was told that spending for education in Wyoming remains among the top 10 in the country. 

As schools look at new ways to improve education, in Thermopolis they are hoping that new technology and the access it brings to data bases, videos, and better access to the outside world will improve learning and teaching.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck has more. 

Willow Belden

A school in Casper has started teaching some of its classes in Chinese. The idea is that the students in those classes will grow up bilingual. This is the first Chinese immersion program in a Wyoming school, but data from other states that have similar programs show a wide range of benefits. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

The results of Adequate Yearly Progress for the last school year have been released and fewer schools met the required standard. 

A-Y-P is a federal measure of achievement that's determined through A-C-T data and the Wyoming Proficiency Assessment.  Schools that score poorly on A-Y-P can lose the ability to decide how they spend federal funds. 

David Holbrook of the Wyoming Department of Education says that those interested in how their schools fared can look at the Department’s website.

University of Wyoming enrollment numbers for the fall semester are down about 1.5 percent from the fall 2012 semester. The University’s enrollment report shows that freshman enrollment numbers have stayed steady, but Vice President for student affairs, Sara Axelson, says more significant were other changes in the class makeup. 

Three Wyoming schools have received Blue Ribbon School Awards from the U.S. Department of Education. The awards honor high performing schools as well as schools that demonstrate the most improvement in student achievement. This year’s recipients are Jackson Hole High School, Lovell High School, and Coffeen Elementary School.

David Holbrook, of the Wyoming Department of Education, says it’s a great honor for these schools.

Many in the state are concerned about the dropout rate in Wyoming’s schools.  State Director of Education Rich Crandall says in addressing the problem the goal should be to continue to engage and challenge students. 

Crandall says the best way to turn things around is to focus on improving the education experience.

Rebecca Huntington

Roughly three years ago, two women undertook an effort to take a group of middle school girls in Jackson under their wing with the goal of helping them get into college.  The effort is called College Bound Latinas and the program has had some early success.  But a recent interaction with a University of Wyoming Professor is taking the girls even further as Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.

What do you think about the proposal to improve early childhood education in the state?

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Bob Beck / Natrona County High School

Wyoming’s Interim Education Director is expressing concerns about the state’s declining graduation rate.  Jim Rose notes that Wyoming’s high school graduation rate has fallen below 80 percent for the second straight year.

The most recent numbers show that 78-point-nine percent of public high school students graduated in the 2011-2012 school year. Rose says this is an indicator that the state has some work to do to get the graduation numbers higher.

Topic of the Week

What do you think of the bill that would allow guns in Wyoming schools and colleges?

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How would you go about improving K-12 education in Wyoming?

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