Wyoming Department of Education

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

Wyoming Department of Education

The Wyoming Department of Education reported Thursday that student scores on statewide assessments have seen some improvements. The Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students — known as PAWS — tests students in grades 3-8 in reading and math, and grades 4-8 in science.

Wyoming Department of Education

In response to the current state funding crisis, the Wyoming Department of Education surveyed school districts to see how cuts were impacting their annual budgets. The results confirm the budget crisis is impacting summer programming.

 

Of Wyoming’s 48 districts, Big Horn School District #2 in Lovell and Teton County School District #1 in Jackson, were the only two districts not included in the survey results.

 

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Summer school might sound like a punishment, but according to Karen Bierhaus from the Wyoming Department of Education, it often provides opportunities for students to learn in more creative and engaging ways.

However, due to changes in the school funding model during the 2017 Wyoming Legislative session, funding through the Wyoming Bridges Program for summer and extended day programs no longer exists.

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The State Board of Education approved full accreditation for 46 of Wyoming’s 48 school districts, and all 13 institutional schools for the coming school year.

Tom Sasche, the board’s coordinator, said the annual process helps ensure districts are meeting established standards and showing improvement.

“In addition to the statewide assessment system and the accountability system, Wyoming participates in something called the Advanc-Ed Accreditation Process,” said Sasche.  

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In 2015, No Child Left Behind was replaced by the Every Student Succeeds Act. Known as ESSA, it gives states more authority over K-12 education than they have had in nearly two decades. Now that the two-year transition period is over, ESSA will take effect this fall.

The transition has been met with enthusiasm from Jillian Balow, Superintendent of Public Instruction. She said, “No Child Left Behind was very punitive in nature.” 

Photo by Tommy Wong. Thought bubble added by Tennessee Watson with use under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

School’s out for summer across Wyoming, but the state Department of Education is offering two free learning initiatives designed to help kids keep up math and reading skills over summer break.

Find a Book Wyoming helps students create custom reading lists to suit their abilities and interests, and set goals for the summer. Barb Marquer from the Wyoming Department of Education, said she doesn’t want kids to consider this school work.  

ENDOW, Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming, logo
ENDOW

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction is concerned that Governor Mead’s executive council focused on diversifying Wyoming’s economy, known as ENDOW, is leaving out K-12 education.

 

Superintendent Jillian Balow made that point recently in a letter to the governor. She said schools should be a part of the economic diversification discussion because public education is one of the largest employers in the state.

 

The University of Wyoming will now have a representative on the State Board of Education. The Wyoming legislature passed a bill during its last session, granting the University of Wyoming president the power to appoint a nonvoting member to the State Board of Education. The first to serve in this new role is College of Education Dean Ray Reutzel.

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Wyoming’s K-12 math standards are up for review, and the Wyoming Department of Education is hosting regional meetings to get community input. You don’t need to be a math wiz to weigh in.

Each meeting will begin with a presentation covering how the review process works and will go over the goals and objectives of the standards. And then participants will be asked to respond to a couple of basic questions about why math standards are important, and what the math standards review committee should know as they start the process.

Wyoming Indian High School

This past week, the Wyoming Department of Education held listening sessions at tribal schools to see how the state can better serve Native American families. Rob Black, social studies consultant with the WDE and liaison to the Native American community, said students on the reservation are a vulnerable population. Graduation rates and achievement levels there lag behind non-native communities.

Black said before addressing specific issues the WDE wanted to open up dialogue.

Wyoming Department of Education

The Wyoming Department of Education is seeking public input on how the state should regulate and support school performance. A new federal policy called the Every Student Succeeds Act, which went into law in 2015 and goes into effect for the 2017-2018 school year, aims to ensure equity in education across the United States.

In contrast to No Child Left Behind, power in this act has shifted from the federal government to the states to decide how best to evaluate and improve school performance.

The Wyoming Department of Education is rapidly approaching the deadline to submit the state’s plan to carry out the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which takes full effect for the 2017-2018 school year.  

Signed into law in 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act shifted power from the federal government to the states to decide how best to evaluate and improve school performance.

Wyoming Department of Education

The results of a survey by the Wyoming Department of Education on post-secondary preparation indicate that career readiness ranks just above college readiness for most respondents. People also say that problem solving and oral and written communication, are essential skills.

The survey was sent out to stakeholders last month as part of the WDE’s work on a new accountability plan as required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

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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.

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