Wyoming Department of Education

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The Wyoming Department of Education is shrinking the data reporting burden on schools in response to changes at the federal level, but school equity advocates caution against shedding too much of the load.  

Last week, Governor Matt Mead signed the Indian Education For All Act that requires the Wyoming Department of Education to teach the history and culture of Wyoming’s two tribes, the Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho.

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The Wyoming Department of Education is looking for people to participate in the Math Standards Review Committee.

The math standards are short written descriptions that detail what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade level, and by the time they graduate.

Laurie Hernandez, the Wyoming Department of Education’s Supervisor of Standards, said anyone who is interested is encouraged to apply, as long as you can commit to meeting several times this upcoming summer. 

The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to roll back Department of Education regulations issued last November by the Obama administration. The regulations laid out how states and districts should measure school performance under the Every Student Succeeds Act — or ESSA — which replaced No Child Left Behind.

The U.S. House used the Congressional Review act to overturn the executive branch regulations. That resolution of disapproval passed the Senate and is now on its way to the president to be signed into law.

What do you think about having states decide important education decisions instead of the federal government? 

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

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The Wyoming Department of Education encouraged schools across the state to test for lead.

A memo sent out earlier this month informed superintendents and principals of a program offered by the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s called the 3T Program — for training, testing and telling — and it’s designed to support schools in monitoring and keeping lead in drinking water at minimal levels.

Wyoming Department of Education

School districts that temporarily borrow funds from the state may no longer face high interest rates. A bill to remove a 6 percent interest rate on money borrowed from the state’s Common School Fund passed the Wyoming House and is now before the Senate.  

Wyoming Department of Education

High school graduation rates in Wyoming have crept upward since 2012, according to a press release from the education department.

In 2016, 80 percent of students graduated within four years. That’s higher than the state’s rate has been in a while, but still falls short of last year’s national average of eighty-three percent.

State Superintendent Jillian Balow says that although the state has more work to do, these incremental gains are worth celebrating.

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The Wyoming Department of Education is seeking public comment on revised Graduation Requirements. 

Called Chapter 31, it clarifies requirements for demonstrating competency in the nine required content areas needed for graduation. It also, empowers districts to decide what methods they’ll use to guarantee those requirements are met.            

Natrona County Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Walt Wilcox said the amended rules will make assessment less complex for administrators, and also benefit students.

Wyoming Department of Education

Wyoming has seen its first drop in student enrollment in more than a decade according to data collected by the state Department of Education. Districts lose money when enrollment declines. The good news is that enrollment funding is based on a three year rolling average.

Department of Education Communications Director, Kari Eakins, said that gives school districts a little bit more time to make wise cuts.

The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Education Committee released a document outlining possible solutions to Wyoming’s education funding crisis and has asked for immediate public input.

The Subcommittee on Education Deficit Reduction Options was tasked with offering strategies to address the current funding model, while maintaining the quality of public education.

Rebecca Huntington

After years of controversy, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has signed into law a new set of K-12 science standards. In 2014, state legislators passed a bill blocking adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards because they acknowledged man-made climate change as fact. 

State Superintendent Jillian Balow says, since then, her staff has reviewed a dozen other standards, and taken public input on what Wyoming standards should say.

Wyoming Department of Education

State residents will have the opportunity to give the Wyoming Department of Education input on how they should implement a new federal education law. Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, in December, which gives states more authority over education. 

Wyoming Department of Education

The number of Wyoming schools meeting or exceeding performance expectations increased last year. The 2016 Wyoming School Performance Ratings were released Tuesday. They show 21 more schools met state benchmarks in the 2015-2016 academic year than in the previous year.

Expectation ratings for elementary and middle schools are based on proficiency on standardized tests and grading, as well as on fairness and inclusion in the classroom. High schools are additionally rated on graduation rates and how many students are eligible for the Hathaway Scholarship.

Liam Niemeyer

Teachers from across Wyoming took part in programming and robotics workshops on the University of Wyoming’s campus this month to learn about new ways to teach students.

During the two-week long event called “UW RAMPED,” 30 teachers learned about miniature computers that can be used in the classroom and how to program robots of different sizes. Teachers also got to interact with a human-sized robot named Baxter.

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A legislative committee voted Tuesday to draft legislation that would change the way virtual education works in Wyoming.

The Wyoming Department of Education’s Distance Education Task Force met last year and came up with recommendations to expand and improve virtual or online learning in the state. The Joint Education Interim Committee voted to support those recommendations, specifically addressing those that require a change in state law.

Green River Representative John Freeman served on the task force. He says there’s a definite need for classes to be available online.

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At Powell High School, students can blend their classroom learning with an online course or two.

“They could be taking a foreign language such as German that we don’t offer,” says Park County Superintendent Kevin Mitchell. “They could be taking science classes that we don’t offer.”

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 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.

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Wyoming is waiting on federal approval for its plan to improve equal access to high-quality teachers across the state.

These plans are required under the No Child Left Behind education law. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education ordered all 50 states to revamp them.

Wyoming submitted its new proposal last month. Wyoming Department of Education Chief of Staff Dicky Shanor says the state’s equity planning committee found two major gaps to address.

Aaron Schrank/WPR

Wyoming students who graduated high school in 2015 scored slightly higher on the ACT exam than last year’s seniors.

That’s according to a report released Wednesday by the test’s developer, ACT, Inc. Wyoming uses the ACT college entrance exam to measure student achievement.

The average composite score for Wyoming students was 20.2 out of 36—which puts the state in sixth place out of the 13 states where all students are required the ACT.

Wyoming Department of Education Chief Academic Officer Brent Bacon says that’s a slight increase from last year.

Wyoming Department of Education

Three years after Wyoming adopted the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and math, schools here are still struggling to teach to the new standards. That’s according to survey results released this week by the Wyoming Department of Education.

Only about 1,000 teachers, 54 principals and 28 curriculum directors responded to the department’s survey. WDE acknowledged the response rate was low, but the information is helpful.

Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow was part of a delegation of U.S. state schools chiefs who visited China this month to discuss education issues.

The trip was paid for by the Council of State School Officers and was the third dialogue of its kind.

The state of Wyoming paid a school district in Montana $438,000 this year to educate 35 children who live on the Wyoming side of the border in Yellowstone National Park.

Administrators in both states say the arrangement has worked well.

The federal government had paid for these students for decades—but it stopped last year due to budget cuts.

Students in the Mammoth Hot Springs area previously did not belong to any school district. Now, they attend school in Gardiner, Montana, but live within the expanded boundary of Wyoming’s Park County School District One.

USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given the Wyoming Department of Education a $65,000 grant to boost local food programs at schools across the state.

So-called ‘farm to school’ programs have been on the uptick in Wyoming in the past few years. The Wyoming Department of Education says the grant money will be used to put on 5 regional conferences to get school districts and local producers into productive partnerships.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow says these partnerships benefit Wyoming students nutritionally—and educationally.

Wyoming Department of Education

 A task force charged with improving distance education in Wyoming held its first of six meetings in Casper last week. The 14-member group will present findings to lawmakers in October.

“It went exceptionally well,” says Brent Bacon, chief academic officer at the Wyoming Department of Education. “We all worked together, did a lot of brainstorming, and came up with some great next steps.”

The Wyoming Department of Education is asking Wyoming teachers, parents and science professionals to serve on a Science Standards Review Committee. A survey will be open until April 22 for citizens to express interest.

The committee will form science standards for Wyoming students, a process that was restarted by the State Board of Education after lawmakers voted this session to allow the Next Generation Science Standards to be considered.

A greater percentage of Wyoming high school students graduated on time last year than the year before. That’s according to data released Wednesday by the Wyoming Department of Education.

The four-year graduation rate for the 2013-2014 school year was 78.6 percent—up from 77.5 percent the year before—and compared with 81 percent nationwide. 

Aaron Schrank

Last week, Republican Jillian Balow was sworn in as Wyoming’s new Superintendent of Public Instruction. Balow is now working to rebuild the state’s Department of Education, formerly led by Cindy Hill. There are quite a few vacancies to fill and the current legislative session could shake things up for the state’s K-12 schools. Superintendent Balow spoke with Wyoming Public Radio’s Aaron Schrank about the road ahead.

Superintendent Elect Jillian Balow has announced the leadership team who will work with her at the Wyoming Department of Education.

Balow named Cheyenne attorney Dicky Shanor her Chief of Staff. Laramie County School District 1’s Brent Young will serve as Balow’s Chief Policy Officer, Laramie County 2’s Brent Bacon was named Chief Academic Officer, and Dianne Bailey will be promoted from within the Department to the role of Chief Financial Officer.

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