All posts by Jason Harper

SUPERINTENDENT DEGENFELDER ANNOUNCES ASSESSMENT REDUCTION & EFFICIENCY PLAN

CHEYENNE – State Superintendent Megan Degenfelder’s Assessment Reduction & Efficiency Plan was presented today at the Wyoming State Board of Education’s (SBE) annual retreat in Newcastle. Work will continue on these recommendations in collaboration with the SBE and the legislature.

“I have heard the concerns of educators, parents, and students about the need to reduce the burden of testing. As a result, I am proposing this plan to reduce and streamline the state assessment system while still maintaining the academic rigor we need to provide valuable insight into student learning.”

The plan includes a decrease of 30% of the number of items on the math assessment in grades 3-8, which aligns with the recently reduced math and science standards proposed by the SBE and WDE, as well as removal of Kindergarten through grade 2 (K-2) interim assessments, removal of the grade 3 writing assessment, possible removal of mandatory assessment for grade 9, and an updated math assessment in high school which focuses less on course-based math content and more on comprehensive math skills. The plan also includes the release of additional diagnostic tools for teachers, so they can use the assessment in a more meaningful way. 

For more information, read the plan

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Media Contact: Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

SUPERINTENDENT DEGENFELDER JOINS STATE SUPERINTENDENTS IN WASHINGTON D.C. TO OPPOSE BIDEN’S TITLE IX RULE CHANGE

CHEYENNE – On Thursday, June 20, Superintendent Megan Degenfelder joined her counterparts from several states including Florida, Louisiana, and Montana, at an event in Washington D.C. to oppose the Biden Administration’s new Title IX rules. The Heritage Foundation organized the group of state education officials, state attorneys general and solicitors general, parental rights advocates, and student-athletes to speak on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to respond to the rule changes that will negatively impact millions of Americans.

“These rules are dangerous. They physically endanger biological females and infringe upon the constitutional rights of students and teachers by attacking due process, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. Our efforts to push back are already showing promising results with federal courts in Kentucky and Louisiana temporarily blocking the rules. We must continue the fight, it is long from over.”    

Superintendent Degenfelder was joined by Florida Commissioner Manny Diaz; Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill; Louisiana Superintendent Cade Brumley; Montana Solicitor General Christian Corrigan; Montana Superintendent Elsie Arntzen; Paula Scanlan, Student Athlete; Lainey Armistead, Former West Virginia Collegiate Athlete; Rachel Rouleau, Alliance Defending Freedom; Kim Hermann, Southeastern Legal Foundation; Sarah Parshall Perry, The Heritage Foundation; Lindsey Burke, The Heritage Foundation; and Tiffany Justice, Moms for Liberty.

Degenfelder recently announced that Wyoming will join a lawsuit opposing the rules and has provided guidance that Wyoming schools should continue under their current Title IX policies and practices.

Megan Degenfelder stands grasping a podium wearing a red blazer and black blouse in front of the US Supreme Court Building.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

RECOMMENDATION FROM SUPERINTENDENT DEGENFELDER ON NEW TITLE IX RULES

With the August 1 implementation date for the new U.S. Department of Education Title IX rules approaching, I want to provide an update on the progress being made to push back. I continue to oppose these new rules because they endanger female students, decrease the due process rights of teachers and students, infringe upon the religious liberty of teachers and students, and create unnecessary and overly burdensome requirements on school districts. 

I have partnered with Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon and Attorney General Bridget Hill to join a lawsuit with Kansas, Alaska, Oklahoma, and Utah to challenge these rules. Currently, more than half of the country’s states have joined lawsuits challenging these rules. I will be uniting with education officials from across the country who are involved with these lawsuits in D.C. next week to discuss our collective legal and political strategy. The more we work together, the more influence we have to defeat these ill-conceived rules. 

While I cannot predict the outcome of those lawsuits, I do believe that some or all of the rules will be enjoined, overturned, or otherwise invalidated when the dust in the courtroom settles. Therefore, my recommendation is that the most prudent course of action at this time for Wyoming school districts is to continue under their current Title IX policies and practices. 

Wyoming districts have robust policies in place to prevent and address discrimination of all types, and I am confident these education leaders will continue to carry them out with fidelity. As districts consult with local legal counsel regarding the new rules, know that we are working hard to sort through the potential implications. It is my goal to ensure that top-down federal edicts do not prevent Wyoming’s school districts from continuing to provide a safe environment for all students and staff. 

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

WDE LAUNCHES INFORMATION HUB FOR EDUCATION SAVINGS ACCOUNT PROGRAM

CHEYENNE –In anticipation of the January 1, 2025 launch of the Wyoming Education Savings Account, the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) has established an information hub for residents to begin planning for the application process. The Wyoming Education Savings Account (ESA) Act was signed into law on March 21, 2024.  

“We are working hard to stand up this exciting new school choice program for Wyoming families,” said State Superintendent Megan Degenfelder. “That includes constant collaboration with national experts who have implemented ESA programs across the country, thus ensuring the process results in a user-friendly system that maximizes participation.” 

During the 2024 legislative session, $20 million was appropriated from the general fund to establish the ESA program. Beginning with the 2025-26 school year, $6,000 scholarships will be available each year to eligible Wyoming students in pre-K through grade 12. Families with a household income below 150% of the federal poverty guidelines will qualify. The funds will be deposited into an account, which families can use for approved education expenses, such as private school fees, tutoring, curriculum, home education, and more.

The WDE is developing a certification process to approve pre-k and non-public primary and secondary schools per the law. A list of certified education service providers will be published on the ESA program website when available.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

WYOMING SUES BIDEN ADMINISTRATION OVER TITLE IX RULE CHANGES AS PART OF MULTI-STATE COALITION

CHEYENNE –The State of Wyoming, alongside a coalition of states and private parties, has taken legal action by filing a lawsuit opposing President Biden’s new rules interpreting Title IX. Title IX is a law designed to create educational and athletic opportunities, particularly for female students. The lawsuit argues the new rules are contrary to the core principles of Title IX, compromising safety and privacy, ultimately depriving female athletes of opportunities.

Governor Gordon voiced Wyoming’s firm stance, stating, “Wyoming will fight the Biden Administration’s attempt to rewrite Title IX. The state adamantly upholds its core principles of fairness, privacy and the sanctity of women’s sports, opposing any imposition of ambiguous standards that threaten these ideals,” Governor Gordon said. “This is yet another instance of federal overreach, seeking to impose a new interpretation on a longstanding law.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder applauded the lawsuit, stating, “In Wyoming, we protect our girls. We will never allow outrageous political agendas to get in the way of that. Not in bathrooms, not in education, not in sports. Period.” 

Biden’s new Title IX rule eliminates privacy protections to all students, replaces “sex” with “gender identity” and broadens the definition of what constitutes “discrimination on the basis of sex”, which directly contradicts the very purpose of Title IX.

The lawsuit further alleges the rule violates the First Amendment rights of educators, school employees and fellow students, as well as private organizations, who have sincerely held religious beliefs that would prevent them from complying with the rule. The rule  also raises due processes concerns on college campuses related to sexual harassment accusations.

The coalition is led by Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach. The lawsuit also includes the states of Alaska and Utah as well as private parties. A copy of the full complaint may be found here.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

SUPERINTENDENT DEGENFELDER ISSUES STATEMENT ON BIDEN ADMINISTRATION TITLE IX RULES

CHEYENNE – “I am outraged by the Biden Administration’s action to effectively repeal Title IX protections for women in America. Not only does the Biden Administration continue to attack the protections of biological women and the rights of parents, but it does so without any Congressional action. These rules fully open the door to biological males abusing rights afforded to women by Congress in Title IX, and they also trample on parental rights by requiring K-12 schools to accept a child’s gender identity regardless of biological sex without parental input.

Furthermore, and quite frighteningly, the rules have stripped the accused of proper due process protections and threaten First Amendment rights essential to religious conscience and free expression.

I am actively working with my counterparts across the country and other education organizations regarding how we can effectively litigate or otherwise oppose these offensive rules.”

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

SUPERINTENDENT DEGENFELDER TO HOST EDUCATION TOWN HALL IN LANDER

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) will host an Education Town Hall at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 11 in the Lander Community & Convention Center. Members of the public are invited to join and share feedback.

State Superintendent Megan Degenfelder will provide an update on the WDE Strategic Plan, and State Board of Education and local school board member Taylor Jacobs will update her local community on the board’s work on the Profile of a Graduate. Find additional information here.

Join us and watch live via the WDE Facebook page.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

WYOMING STUDENTS SELECTED FOR UNITED STATES SENATE YOUTH PROGRAM

CHEYENNE —The Wyoming Department of Education and the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) announce that high school students Casey J. Dean Toner and Grace H. Zhou will join Senator John Barrasso and Senator Cynthia Lummis in representing Wyoming during the 62nd annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 2 – 9, 2024. Casey Toner of Glenrock and Grace Zhou of Laramie were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be among the 104 national students in the delegation.

Casey Toner, a junior at Glenrock Jr/Sr High School, has advocated for Career and Technical Education (CTE), including efforts related to the Prep Act and Perkins funding, where he engaged with Wyoming Senators John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis. He has been accepted as a high school intern for the Wyoming Senate, and plans to dual major in political science and CTE education.

Grace Zhou, a senior at Laramie High School, was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award Gold Medal for her work with the Red Sand Project and Laramie Interfaith. She is currently a legislative intern, and her future includes pursuing a public policy and behavioral economics degree with an emphasis on public health.

“Learning about how our federal government works is an essential part of citizenship, and the U.S. Senate Youth Program is an experience second to none for our students.” says State Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder. “Casey and Grace are Wyoming student leaders and display the characteristics required to excel in this program.”

Chosen as alternates to the 2024 program were Emma Pehringer of Buffalo High School, and Carson Krueger who attends Laramie High School.

Each year this competitive, merit-based program provides two outstanding high school students from each state with an intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it. In addition, the Hearst Foundations provide each with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs.

Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education and the District of Columbia and Department of Defense Education, after nomination by teachers and principals. The chief state school officer for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection. This year’s Wyoming delegates and alternates were designated by Superintendent Degenfelder.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

WDE SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENT ON PROPOSED STANDARDS REDUCTIONS

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education seeks public comment on proposed standards for Math, Science, Computer Science, Physical Education, Health and Safety, and Fine & Performing Arts. Public comment can be submitted through online survey, virtual session, or written comment, by 11:59 p.m. on March 21. The public can attend a virtual public comment session to provide verbal input. The session will begin with an informational presentation, followed by the collection of comments. Attendees may join and exit at any time during the meeting.

“With an overall reduction of 69%, these standards represent a concerted effort to listen and respond to the needs of teachers, communities, and policymakers,” says State Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder.

Join a Zoom Public Comment Session below.

The standards documents and proposed Chapter 10 Rules can be found at the links below:

Send written comments to the address below or email to barb.marquer@wyo.gov:

Wyoming Department of Education
Attn: Barb Marquer
122 W. 25th Street, Suite E200
Cheyenne, WY 82002

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

WYOMING’S FUTURE OF LEARNING COLLABORATIVE LAUNCHES SECOND ROUND OF PILOT PROGRAMS

CHEYENNE – Wyoming’s Future of Learning collaborative is accepting applications from school districts for the second round of a pilot project to reimagine K-12 education through competency based learning. This opportunity will expand the reach of the initial RIDE pilot program currently underway in nine Wyoming school districts by adding seven additional districts for the 2024-25 school year.

Wyoming’s Future of Learning collaborative includes Governor Mark Gordon, Superintendent Megan Degenfelder and the Wyoming Department of Education, the State Board of Education (SBE), the University of Wyoming College of Education, the Community Colleges and the Wyoming Association of School Administrators.

“There continues to be so much potential through this partnership,” Governor Gordon said. “Through these pilots we are learning about what our educators need to ensure that Wyoming’s education system is not just better than today, but is able to emerge through this work as one of the best at serving students and families in the United States.”

“This pilot is an important step in shifting our education system from its current one-size fits all model. With competency based learning, students can learn at their own pace and pursue more individualized education pathways,” said State Superintendent Megan Degenfelder.

The goal of the voluntary pilots is to rethink and innovate key elements of instruction and assessment to make them more responsive to students and to support the SBE’s Wyoming Profile of a Graduate work. Districts and their communities will be supported through the pilots as they engage in this participatory process creating learning environments that will put students at the center. Statewide professional development opportunities in competency-based learning will continue to be offered to all schools throughout the state.

“We were very excited about this opportunity because we were looking for ways to move students and staff into the future,” said Gillian Chapman, Superintendent of Teton County School District #1, a district currently participating in the RIDE pilots. “What they need in the future is really different from what we do day in and day out in school, and we were looking for alternatives to the way we have always done things.”

“We were so excited and satisfied with this work that we are already asking for it to be expanded into all content areas at all grade levels,” said Superintendent Paige Fenton Hughes of Converse County School District #1.

Applications will be due February 16  and selected districts will be announced in early March.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov