On the Road, In the Field

Wyoming Department of Education > Superintendent's Update > On the Road, In the Field

Dear Superintendents,

With the general election now behind us, we wish to congratulate and welcome Megan Degenfelder as the new State Superintendent of Public Instruction. We want to again reiterate that we will do everything we can to ensure a smooth and seamless leadership transition within the Wyoming Department of Education for both Megan and the WDE staff.

The transition period will take place through November and December, leading up to the swearing-in ceremony on January 2. It will include a series of orientation meetings with myself, my deputy superintendent, the department chiefs and division directors, as well as an all-staff meeting on December 9.The superintendent-elect will also have access, like all new incoming elected officials, to a transition team out of the A&I office that will deal with all the other details and aspects of the process.

Vision & Focus 

Because of the law of increasing entropy, mission drift is inevitable if the focus becomes foggy from a vision that has become blurred. For leaders of educational entities, therefore, constant clarity is essential.

For example, take the mission of “teaching thinking:” viewing this challenge in the critical thinking domain alone can unwittingly blur the vision which can eventually fog the focus. This happens when the logic piece is missed or by-passed, and it can happen in no small measure.

Since critical thinking does not necessarily include logical thought, it does not necessarily produce the same. But logical thought always includes critical thinking and, therefore, always produces the same. Therefore, we can’t fulfill education’s ultimate mission (teaching thinking) without teaching logic (the systematic rules of thinking). It’s only logical!

Other obvious benefits to the life of the mind notwithstanding, because logic (as both a content area as well as a skill) increases clarity, it remains one of the most powerful tools in an educator’s arsenal for not only equipping students for life, but also helping students break out of some of those inevitable youth-based mind blinds, to which the undeveloped mind is so vulnerable.

On the Road, In the Field

“On the road” this week means in the air and “in the field” means overseas travel. By the time this update lands in your laptops, I will have landed in Taipei, Taiwan to represent both the state and schools of Wyoming on a trip that will give official credence to the newly unfolding educational and cultural relationship between Taiwan and Wyoming.

For the long-range purpose of firming up and further developing the prospects of student and teacher exchanges between their great country and our great state, Taiwan has graciously offered to host and fund this entire opportunity. With two of our Wyoming schools already committed to this program (Black Butte Alternative High School in Rock Springs and Campbell County High School in Gillette), “the sky is the limit” as to where this could go for future student and teacher exchanges.

This of course will not only be an incredible experience, but also a tremendous honor, and I will certainly do my best to represent Wyoming well. Armed with many Wyoming gifts to share (thanks to Penny!), the intent will be to not only solidify an official educational exchange, but also to build good will and reinforce the long-standing tradition of mutual admiration between the Taiwanese and American people.

In the Spotlight

Two years ago, the Wyoming State Board of Education (SBE) launched a project called the Profile of a Graduate. The goal was to understand what our Wyoming high school students needed to know to move into the world after graduation, whether they chose college, career or the military. Over the course of two phases of work focused on collecting insights and feedback from stakeholders across the state (including parents, students, teachers, administration, industry, business, community members, elected officials, higher education, and more), a dedicated team working with the board presented their findings.

At the SBE’s August meeting, the board unanimously approved the final Profile of a Graduate. The website also provides a bit of a look into how the process was executed. Having the opportunity to join the SBE during my tenure as Superintendent, a well-earned and well-deserved round of applause should be given to this very invested board and their supporting team for the work they have accomplished in this regard. For this they are all ‘In the Spotlight’ this week. Congratulations, Ryan Fuhrman and fellow SBE members!

Mark Your Calendars

Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA), addresses students participating in alternate assessments aligned with alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAAS) of the statewide assessment system. Each state must submit a waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education if it predicts exceeding 1.0 percent participation in the AA-AAAS in any subject.

After reviewing the 2021-22 assessment participation data, the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) has determined that participation in WY-ALT ELA, Math in grades 3-10 and WY-ALT Science in grades 4, 8, and 10 may be over 1% of the total number of students assessed in that subject area for the 2022-23 school year. Pursuant to Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34 (34 CFR), Section 200.6(c)(4), the WDE is requesting a federal waiver for exceeding the 1% threshold on AA-AAAS participation in the WY-ALT ELA, Math, and Science.

The WDE seeks public comment on the One Percent Participation Waiver Request for the Alternate ELA, Math, and Science Assessment. Public comment may be submitted online, or via mail, by 11:59 p.m. on November 15, 2022. All public comment will be recorded verbatim, including the submitter’s name and city of residence, on the Secretary of State website as part of the public comment process.

For more information, contact Cat Palmer, Assessment Supervisor, at 307-777-8568 or catherine.palmer@wyo.gov.

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