PAWS


Contact Information

Jessica Steinbrenner
Assessment Supervisor
(307) 777-8568
Jessica.Steinbrenner@wyo.gov

Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS)

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.

2014-Math-Prof-Info

2014-Reading-Prof-Info

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.

2014-Science-Prof-Info

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

Grade Below Basic Basic Proficient Advanced
3 375-549 550-598 599-659 660-850
4 400-583 584-636 637-696 697-875
5 425-608 609-651 652-726 727-900
6 450-628 629-676 677-742 743-925
7 475-652 653-696 697-752 753-950
8 500-663 664-706 707-762 763-925

Scale Score Proficiency Level Ranges for Grades 3-8 Reading

Grade Below Basic Basic Proficient Advanced
3 375-552 553-589 590-640 641-800
4 400-565 566-605 606-659 660-825
5 425-577 578-619 620-667 668-850
6 450-588 589-629 630-680 681-875
7 475-605 606-641 642-692 693-900
8 500-615 616-655 656-710 711-925

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 606-653 654-713 714 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.

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.

Concordance Tables


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. 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