Wyoming Department of Education

A focus on the educational needs of foster kids increased with the implementation of Every Student Succeeds: the federal act that replaced No Child Left Behind. The new guidelines required Wyoming school districts to implement foster care plans. Districts now have foster care liaisons and collaborative agreements with local representatives from the Department of Family Services (DFS).

Wyoming Department of Education

Wyoming continues to lead the nation in math and reading. That’s according to the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which tests fourth and eighth-grade students across the country on reading and mathematics every two years.

Wyoming has scored above average across the board since 2013. In 2015, two states scored higher on fourth-grade math, but on the 2017 assessment, Wyoming was among the nation’s top performers.

Wyoming Department of Education

By 2022, all Wyoming school districts are mandated to offer computer science courses. To help make this possible, the Wyoming Department of Education has launched a new program to create standards, develop curriculum and train teachers. It’s called Boot Up Wyoming 2022.

Aaron Schrank

The Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction announced she’s running for a second term. Jillian Balow said there’s more she wants to do.

Jack, his mom Sarah Chatfield and his teacher Tia Reed pose with the cookies he's brought for the teachers at his IEP meeting. A team works with Jack and his family to create an individualized learning plan to accommodate his low vision.
Tennessee Watson

In an effort to curb the rising costs of K-12 education, the state legislature voted to cap spending on special education during the 2018 Budget Session. Lawmakers also directed the Wyoming Department of Education to come up with efficiencies. While educators agree there’s room for improvements, they say Wyoming’s rural nature complicates things.

Wyoming Department of Education

Following the recent shootings in Florida and Kentucky, educators and policymakers across the country are asking questions about school safety and security. Last year Wyoming’s state legislature made it possible for local school boards to decide as a community whether or not to arm trained staff.

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If the Wyoming Department of Education has its way, kids across the state will be guaranteed access to computer science education. Bills have passed in both the House and Senate, which would require districts to offer computer science courses.

 

But those bills differ slightly. Dicky Shanor, Chief of Staff for the Wyoming Department of Education, said the Senate’s version of the bill is stronger because it treats computer science has a stand-alone knowledge area, where as the House places it under career and technical education.

Wyoming Department of Education

In his State of the State address, Governor Matt Mead urged the legislature to find ways to stabilize education funding, which relies heavily on revenues from the energy industry. But attempts to diversify the tax base — to protect school finance from booms and busts — have gone nowhere. Lawmakers who oppose generating new revenue sources say school finance is too opaque. They want more time to settle their uncertainty.

 

Kamila Kudelska

There are over 500 open computing jobs in Wyoming, amounting to roughly $30 million in wages not flowing into the state. That’s according to Code.org, a non-profit that has partnered with the Wyoming Department of Education to expand access to computer science in schools.

 

Ten months and $800,000 later, the Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration has completed its in-depth look at how Wyoming finances education. Members of APA Consulting, who were tasked with examining the equity and adequacy of the school funding model, told lawmakers the state’s current approach works but pointed out areas for improvement. Despite a recommendation to spend more, lawmakers are opting to spend less.

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As more and more students across Wyoming enroll in classes online, it can make calculating attendance at a public school a little more tricky. And homeschool students may come to school for just a portion of the day, while other students might leave school early.

In 2017 the legislature passed a policy changing how the school finance model calculates attendance — or what’s called average daily membership.

The amount of time students spend in school impacts the amount of money districts get in their block grant from the state.

Wyoming Department of Education

Wyoming high school graduation rates saw a slight increase in 2017 from the previous year, according to data released by the Wyoming Department of Education. That continues a four-year trend of improvement, bringing the statewide rate up to 80.2 percent.

 

Graphics from Education Week. Layout by Tennessee Watson

Wyoming was given a B-minus score for its education quality, according to recently released data in Education Week’s report Quality Counts 2018. That puts it above the national average of a C, and the seventh best in the nation.

 

The grades are based on three criteria: chance for success, K-12 achievement, and school finance.

Wyoming Department of Education

In the final hours of the 120 day review period, the U.S. Department of Education notified Wyoming officials that the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act Plan had been approved.

Tennessee Watson

Small schools offer an educational experience that many students appreciate for the close-knit community. But those students can also miss out on the diversity of academic offerings available in larger schools.

Wyoming Department of Education

The Every Student Succeeds Act -- or ESSA -- shifted education authority from the federal government to states and local districts, leaving behind the controversial No Child Left Behind Act. But under ESSA, states are still required to demonstrate to the U.S. Department of Education all students have access to an adequate education.

 

The Wyoming Department of Education submitted its ESSA plan in September. Last week, it received a letter from the federal government asking for more information on several points before approval can be given.

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Parents are only slightly more comfortable talking with their kids about money than about the birds and the bees. That’s according to John Pelletier, who directs Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy.

He said kids need to learn financial skills somewhere, but “the reality is for 80 percent of adults and 80 percent of students who are in high school, they are going to learn through the school of hard knocks.”

Wyoming Department of Education

Governor Matt Mead signed an official proclamation Tuesday recognizing December 4 through 11 as Computer Science Education Week in Wyoming, as a part of his effort to make computer science a K-12 academic requirement.

 

“I would like to see coding at every grade level,” Governor Mead said at the proclamation.

 

He also acknowledged that the idea might be met with hesitation given the financial challenges public education is facing.  

 

Wyoming Department of Education

The Wyoming Department of Education is bound by law to gather stakeholder input on how well schools meet the needs of low-income students, and the agency is stepping up those efforts by forming a statewide committee.

 

Tennessee Watson

The Wyoming Department of Education has announced it must change how it accredits school districts — yet another consequence of budget cuts mandated by the state legislature.

 

The department was contracting with AdvancED, an independent accreditor, to ensure districts were adhering to standards, but that work will now be handled internally.

 

Wyoming Department of Education

Wyoming came in seventh out of 17 states in ACT exam scores. Those 17 states all require 100 percent of students to take the test. In some states only college bound students take the test. Final analysis of nationwide scores from 2016 were released this month.

 

Wyoming’s average composite score was 20.2. And while that’s just 0.6 off the national average, it’s far from a perfect score of 36. Most top tier colleges or universities require a score above 31.

 

Tennessee Watson

Farmworker families often have to move from state to state to find work, and that makes school challenging for their kids. For over 40 years the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) ran a program to support this vulnerable student population, but that has come to an end.

Wyoming’s sugar beet harvest once was a big draw for migrant workers. On a tour of the farmland surrounding Torrington, Simon Lozano remembered a time when the fields were bustling.

“It was like 90 percent beets,” he said pointing out of the window of his truck.  

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Wyoming will participate in a national initiative designed to improve how schools respond to the social and emotional needs of K-12 students. The state is one of nine awarded this opportunity, and Teton County will be the first district to participate.

Wyoming Department of Education

The majority of Wyoming schools are meeting or exceeding expectations, according to the 2016-2017 school performance ratings released Thursday by the Wyoming Department of Education.

State Superintendent Jillian Balow, said the performance ratings are designed to identify schools that need additional support, and she said that system is working. 30 percent of schools are only partially meeting expectations and 11 percent are not meeting them at all.

Tennessee Watson

Last year 20 of Wyoming’s 48 school districts reported they had to reduce their supply and materials budgets, and this year that number jumped to 38, according to survey results compiled by the Legislative Services Office. As a result, parents may have seen the list of back-to-school supplies they’re asked to purchase grow to include things like copy paper and boxes of tissues.

Wyoming Department of Education

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow signed off on Wyoming's Every Student Succeeds Act Plan, ESSA, Thursday, August 17. It will now be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education for approval.

 

The federal education policy fully replaces No Child Left Behind, giving states more authority to define educational goals for students.

 

The U.S. Department of Education still requires every state to submit a plan detailing how it would provide an adequate and equitable education.

 

Wyoming Department of Education

The Wyoming Department of Education has released the results of statewide high school assessments. The ACT test is given to 11th graders, and the ACT Aspire test given to 9th and 10th graders, are used to help predict how well students are prepared for life after high school, whether that's in college or pursuing a career.

 

University of Wyoming Magazine

This school year will be marked by transition for Wyoming educators as they adjust to reduced budgets, new federal policies, and new accountability procedures. And there will also be a new leader in Wyoming to work with these issues.

 

On August 1, Superintendent Jillian Balow welcomed aboard Megan Degenfelder as the new Chief Policy Officer for Wyoming’s Department of Education. Balow said she brought Degenfelder onto the team because of her unique perspective.

 

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State law requires 85 percent of Wyoming students to read at or above “proficient” by the time they are in third grade – that’s the ability to comprehend and analyze a text.

 

The way educators determine if they are making progress and meeting students’ needs is by giving annual assessments and looking an individual student data. And beginning this year, the tests given to students in kindergarten through tenth grade will be part of one integrated system, replacing the three different assessments used previously.

 

Wyoming Department of Education

Educators, community leaders and students gathered this week for the 8th annual Native American Education Conference at the St. Stephen’s Indian School outside Riverton. The two-day event focused on promoting understanding, building relationships and generating ideas about how to best support Native American students.

 

Rob Black is the Native American liaison for the Wyoming Department of Education, and he helped organize the conference. He said while the conference focuses on solutions, it doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff.

 

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