Contact Information

Jessica Steinbrenner
Assessment Supervisor
(307) 777-8568

Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS)

PAWS Transitions to 2012 Content/Performance Standards (WyCPS) in ELA and Math

PAWS is undergoing a transition to phase in content aligned to the 2012 WyCPS. The 2014 test is different enough from prior years’ tests to warrant “breaking scale” and re-setting performance standards. This means that the 2014 PAWS will 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 will be re-set. While the test vendor will provide concordance tables that allow a one-year crosswalk comparison of 2013 results to 2014 results, the tests won’t be directly comparable because of the change in content. It’s important to note that this new baseline will reflect the much higher expectations in the 2012 state standards, so the relatively high proficiency rates we have experienced in the past are not expected with the release of results from the 2014 test.

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.

WDE is in the process of drafting new performance level descriptors (PLDs) for the test.  Teachers will help us refine them prior to presentation to the State Board of Education in May.  These PLDs will be used by the panels convened in July to help set the new cut scores, since they will 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 will be re-convened in the fall, 2014 to consider the effects in the school accountability model.

Parent Opt-Outs and Wyoming Statewide Assessment

In Wyoming, there is NO STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION for parental opt-outs of state assessments.  State statute is very clear; all students enrolled are to be tested with the regular assessment, the regular assessment with accommodations, or the alternate for students with significant cognitive disabilities. In rare and very specific instances, WDE can approve exemptions from testing. Exemption categories include, and are limited to, the following situations:

  • Students who are medically fragile
  • Students placed out of state
  • Students who are expelled
  • Students who are English learners and have been in US schools for less than a year (but only from reading/writing tests)

Under both WAEA and NCLB, schools are expected to achieve participation rates on statewide assessment of at least 95%. Rates lower than 95% result in a school missing AYP and dropping at least one performance level on the Wyoming School Performance Reports.

Proficiency Level Ranges for Grades 3-8 Mathematics

Grade Below Basic Basic Proficient Advanced
3 557 and lower 558-599 600-679 680 and higher
4 583 and lower 584-619 620-697 698 and higher
5 606 and lower 604-644 645-720 721 and higher
6 631 and lower 632-662 663-740 741 and higher
7 652 and lower 653-686 687-757 758 and higher
8 675 and lower 676-705 706-776 777 and higher

Proficiency Level Ranges for Grades 3-8 Reading

Grade Below Basic Basic Proficient Advanced
3 519 and lower 520-583 584-660 661 and higher
4 569 and lower 570-633 634-699 700 and higher
5 586 and lower 587-638 639-706 707 and higher
6 593 and lower 594-649 650-717 718 and higher
7 609 and lower 610-667 668-745 746 and higher
8 623 and lower 624-675 676-748 749 and higher

Proficiency Level Ranges for Grades 4 and 8 Science

Grade Below Basic Basic Proficient Advanced
4 611 and lower 612-665 666-725 726 and higher
8 605 and lower 606-653 606-653 714 and higher

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 will be administered in grades 3-8 in reading, math, and grades 4 and 8 in science. Writing is now assessed through the SAWS.

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.

Grade Specific Resources

These resources include: Rubrics, Assessment Descriptions, Released Items, Draft Writing paper and Traffic Signal suggestions.

Assessment Related Links

PAWS Blueprints

Other Important Links