Visits to Cody and Powell

Dear Superintendents,

It was a pleasure to visit Park County with other statewide elected leaders this week. We visited with students, businesses, local leaders, and others about the great efforts in Park County. Shout outs to Powell Superintendent Jay Curtis for joining us on the Powell tour of the community makerspace and Cody Superintendent Ray Schulte who attended the Forward Cody dinner banquet–thank you. Community partnership from education leaders pays off today and tomorrow!

A recurring topic in every community I visit is moving past mineral dependence through economic diversification. The ENDOW (Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming) executive council released preliminary recommendations last week. With innovation, diversity, and economic success as overarching ENDOW goals, little can be accomplished without a strong education system that fosters a future workforce. Here are the recommendations. Please note the education recommendations on page 2:

  • Provide equitable opportunities for students to learn computer science
  • Improve higher education attainment and retention of graduates
  • Allocate resources for workforce training

Details under the education recommendations can be found beginning on page 7. The ENDOW council is both aware and supportive of policy recommendations I’ve made to the recalibration and education committees during this legislative interim. I look forward to continued work and support of legislation to expand computer science education, workforce development, and improved student outcomes.

A high school student directs the metal-framed robot he built with a controller he hold in his hand.
Rhett Pimentel and his team provide a robotics demonstration for state and community leaders at the Powell Makerspace (not pictured Superintendent Jay Curtis)

State Treasurer Mark Gordon, Secretary of State Ed Murray, State Auditor Cynthia Cloud, and State Superintendent Jillian Balow stand with high school students holding their robots.
Statewide elected officials visit Park County and talk with students

ESSA

Wyoming’s ESSA plan is still under review at the U.S. Dept. of Education (ESED) with the 120 day timeline drawing to a close. We have worked closely with USED over the past several weeks to ensure compliance with federal law and make necessary adjustments to the plan. We look forward to getting an approved plan over the finish line very soon.

Chapter 41

The Chapter 41 rules are out for public comment through February 18. To view the rules or comment, visit the following link. The rules establish the minimum requirements that districts must meet to provide part-time or full-time virtual education to Wyoming students. The revised rules are in fulfillment of SEA0057 passed during the 2017 legislative session. Many stakeholders took part in drafting these rules and I appreciate the participation.

WY-TOPP

The optional WY-TOPP winter interim testing window will be open January 16 to February 9, and will now include grades 1 and 2. Please continue to have your assessment coordinators, teachers, and others reach out to WDE to work through issues or give feedback.

Accreditation

The statewide accreditation task force met this week and began a productive dialogue about state-led accreditation. The task force is comprised of educators from all five regions in the state. The group will continue to meet and provide recommendations to the WDE with a discussion that is centered around:

  • The definition and purpose of accreditation
  • Revisions to the Chapter 6 rules
  • The annual accreditation report and required evidence
  • Options for external reviews
  • Effective practices and professional development

Memos to be released on Tuesday, January 16:

Jillian