Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS)
About the Program
A primary purpose of the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS) is to foster program improvement at the school, district, and state levels in support of the teaching and learning that takes place in Wyoming public classrooms and meets all of the attendant requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001(NCLB). In 2005-2006, PAWS became the official statewide assessment used to measure individual student achievement against the Wyoming Content and Performance Standards in reading, writing, and mathematics for grades 3 – 8 and 11. In 2008, a science assessment was implemented for grades 4, 8, and 11. Beginning in 2013, the PAWS was administered in grades 3-8 in reading, math, and grades 4 and 8 in science.
PAWS is designed to be instructionally supportive and include clear targets for instruction as well as informative reporting categories. PAWS reports provide skill-level categories aligned to the Wyoming Content and Performance Standards as organized by the Wyoming Assessment Descriptions.
Assessment results provide important information to all facets of the school community. These PAWS results assist teachers in addressing specific academic needs of students and in making decisions about delivery of instruction in their classrooms. Policymakers, administrators, students, and parents also use assessment information for a variety of purposes. Collectively, these users make decisions about how well students are achieving, whether schools are functioning effectively for each child, and whether they are functioning well for all children collectively.
The PAWS is a multiple choice assessment in reading, math, and science.
Accommodations are allowed on the PAWS for students on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), for students on a 504 Plan, and for English Language Learners (ELL). Selection of accommodations for the general assessment is the responsibility of a student’s IEP team, 504 Plan committee or service providers for ELL, and must align with the guidelines found in the PAWS standard accommodations manual found at the link below. Accommodations selected and administrated must be from the PAWS Accommodations Manual. Accommodations provided must be regularly used by the student.
Materials By Grade
Performance on PAWS Over Time
Given changes to the 2014 PAWS, direct comparisons cannot be made between results from 2013 and 2014. Major shifts in both content tested and the performance expectations were made between the 2013 and 2014 PAWS, making direct comparisons of performance in Reading and Math invalid. See charts below with statewide proficiency rate information.
Science content standards have not changed, so there have been no changes to the PAWS Science Test. Direct comparisons from one year to the next on the Science portion of the test are valid.
Statewide means and standard deviations on the new scales can be found here.
The 2014 PAWS results were released in September 2014, following development of an entirely new scale and associated performance level cuts. These changes are the culmination of a two year transition process to fully address the 2012 Wyoming Content and Performance Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. The performance cuts that define the various performance levels (basic, proficient, and advanced) are below:
Scale Score Proficiency Level Ranges for Grades 3-8 Mathematics
Scale Score Proficiency Level Ranges for Grades 3-8 Reading
Proficiency Level Ranges for Grades 4 and 8 Science
|4||611 and lower||612-665||666-725||726 and higher|
|8||605 and lower||606-653||654-713||714 and higher|
PAWS Assessment Targets
PAWS underwent a transition to phase in content aligned to the 2012 WyCPS. The 2014 test was different enough from prior years’ tests to warrant “breaking scale” and re-setting performance standards. This means that the 2014 PAWS was be based on an entirely new scale and the “cuts” in the scale which define the scale score ranges associated with advanced, proficient, basic, and below basic were re-set. The test vendor provided concordance tables that allowed a one-year crosswalk comparison of 2013 results to 2014 results. The tests were not directly comparable because of the change in content.
Whenever the content standards change, then states must consider the implications for their tests (since alignment of the state test to the state’s content standards is a requirement under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA). If the changes are minor, perhaps no changes are necessary. But when the standards change significantly, as they did in Wyoming in 2012, then changes to the state test are warranted — otherwise the test isn’t aligned to what teachers use when designing their units and lessons.
The WDE wrote new performance level descriptors (PLDs) for the test. Teachers helped us refine them prior to presentation to the State Board of Education in May 2014. These PLDs were used by the panels convened in July 2014, to help set the new cut scores, since they describe what students need to know and be able to do in order to score, say, advanced in math at grade 4 or proficient in reading at grade 7.
The Professional Judgment Panel re-convened in the fall 2014, to consider the effects in the school accountability model.
- Assessment-related resources (Rubrics, Descriptions, Draft Writing paper, Traffic Signal suggestions)
- PAWS Test Administration Portal
- Resources by Grade Level