Education Accountability

Wyoming lawmakers want more flexibility in how schools are assessed under the federal education law, No Child Left Behind.

Members of the Legislature’s Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability met in Saratoga Wednesday to discuss how to reform Wyoming’s system for evaluating schools. A rework of the state’s accountability system is required by legislation passed this year.

The task force responsible for weighing in on the future of student testing in Wyoming held its kickoff meeting in Casper on Monday.

The assessment task force is made up of 26 teachers, administrators, school board members, parents and businesspeople from around the state.

Under state law, the group is charged with recommending an approach to assessment that fulfills accountability requirements –and furthers learning and achievement for Wyoming students.

After several amendments the House Education Committee approved a bill that is intended to move forward with Wyoming’s education accountability system. 

After a series of amendments by Pinedale Republican Albert Sommers the committee pushed back the next phase of the accountability process. 

Sommers says he wanted to take another look at the accountability model and give the committee addressing accountability more time.  

Wyoming lawmakers will be asked to continue to fine tune Wyoming’s new school accountability law and develop ways for the state to help school districts improve learning. 

Districts and schools are now receiving accountability scores and under-performers will work with the state to find ways to improve.  State Education Director Rich Crandall says it will allow the state to look at data and work very closely with school districts and help them meet goals.

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.

The Wyoming Senate has given final approval to a bill that would focus accountability in education on individual schools in the state.  The statewide education accountability phase one bill would establish benchmarks for schools. If schools don’t meet those benchmarks, they will have to develop a school improvement plan.  Senator Chris Rothfuss says that lawmakers hope to measure student performance in coming months.

The State Senate continues working on a bill that would require schools to be accountable for student performance.  Under the bill, each school in the state would need to meet a pre-determined performance rating. 

Senator Charles Scott successfully amended the bill to say that a principal could be fired if his or her school falls short of that rating two years in a row.

“All these accountability structures are very fine, but when the day’s over you gotta do something if the performance is not adequate,” Scott says.