All posts by Laurel Shelley-Reuss

Superintendent Balow Recognized with National Award

CHEYENNE – State Superintendent Jillian Balow was honored by the State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA) on Monday as the recipient of the SETDA State Policy Maker of the Year Award during their 2017 Leadership Summit: Leveraging Technology to Personalize Student Learning.

“Whether we are talking about education, jobs, or Wyoming’s economy-leadership, technology, innovation, and learning are at the heart of the conversation,” said Superintendent Balow. “What we expect students to know today impacts their future opportunities and the strength of our state.”

Superintendent Balow was recognized for chairing the Distance Education Task Force in 2015 which led to the passage of the Virtual Education Act in 2017 and established a K-20 common statewide learning management system which coordinates online course offerings for K-12 and post-secondary. Under Superintendent Balow’s leadership, Wyoming has signed the Future Ready pledge, celebrated its first ever Computer Science Education Week, worked on a Classroom Connectivity Initiative, established a K-20 statewide digital learning conference, and worked with the Legislature on increasing access to computer science.

Founded in 2001, SETDA is the principal non-profit membership association representing U.S. state and territorial educational technology leaders. Their mission is to build and increase the capacity of state and national leaders to improve education through technology policy and practice.

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Media Contact:
Kari Eakins, Communications Director
kari.eakins@wyo.gov
307-777-2053

State Uses of II-A Funds Survey

For the 2017-2018 school year, the United States Department of Education (USED) has awarded grants to states under Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), to be used by states and local school districts for the preparing, training, and recruiting of high-quality teachers, principals, and other school leaders.  Wyoming received $9,666,572 in Title II funds this year, of which the majority was sub-granted to local school districts.

Beginning July 1, 2017, a new provision in Title II allows a set-aside of funds for state-level activities, not to exceed 4% of the total grant, to further augment the professional development initiatives of local school districts.  Title II of the ESEA law lists several allowable uses of funds, and your participation in this survey will help guide decision-making about in which activities the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) may choose to coordinate and deliver.

This survey will be conducted every three years, with annual evaluation surveys conducted to determine the effectiveness of the professional development provided and to ensure that the activities are ongoing, sustainable, and showing an impact on student achievement. The needs assessment survey occurring every three years will allow sufficient time for research, development, and influence on student achievement to be assessed. The annual evaluations track effectiveness of the professional development for educators and its impact on student achievement.

State Uses of Title II-A Funds Survey

Contact Information

Please indicate if the following allowable activities are something WDE should support with II-A funds.

Please indicate if this allowable activity is something the state should support with II-A funds.
Please indicate if this allowable activity is something the state should support with II-A funds.
Please indicate if this allowable activity is something the state should support with II-A funds.
Please indicate if this allowable activity is something the state should support with II-A funds.
Please indicate if this allowable activity is something the state should support with II-A funds.
Please indicate if this allowable activity is something the state should support with II-A funds.
Please indicate if this allowable activity is something the state should support with II-A funds.
Please indicate if this allowable activity is something the state should support with II-A funds.
Please indicate if this allowable activity is something the state should support with II-A funds.
Please indicate if this allowable activity is something the state should support with II-A funds.
Please indicate if this allowable activity is something the state should support with II-A funds.
Please indicate if this allowable activity is something the state should support with II-A funds.
Please indicate if this allowable activity is something the state should support with II-A funds.
Please indicate if this allowable activity is something the state should support with II-A funds.
Please indicate if this allowable activity is something the state should support with II-A funds.
Please indicate if this allowable activity is something the state should support with II-A funds.

Additional Information

For more information, please contact Mark Bowers, WDE Title II Director, at mark.bowers@wyo.gov or (307) 777-8739.

Please note that activities supported by state-level Title II-A funds are contingent upon the continued funding of the program by the Federal government.

ACT Results Available for the Class of 2017

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming graduating class of 2017 had an average composite score of 20.2 on the ACT according to The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2017, released today by ACT, Inc.

“The ACT is one of the measures that helps us see how well we are preparing our students for their future,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “We’re in the top half of states that give the ACT to all of their students, and now the work continues to improve student outcomes.”

2017 Benchmarks and Average Scores: Average ACT Scores for English were 19.4 in 2017, 19.2 in 2016 and 19.4 in 2015. Average ACT scores in Mathematics were 19.8 in 2017, 19.6 in 2016 and 19.9 in 2015. Average ACT Scores in Reading were 20.8 in 2017, 20.4 in 2016 and 20.4 in 2015. Average ACT Scores in Science were 20.6 in 2017, 20.0 in 2016 and 20.2 in 2015. The average composite ACT Scores were 20.2 in 2017, 20.0 in 2016 and 20.2 in 2015. In 2017, the percentage of students who met college readiness benchmarks were 58% in English, 34% in Mathematics, 42% in Reading, 34% in Science, and 21% meeting all four benchmarks. In 2016, benchmarks were met by 58% in English, 34% in Mathematics, 38% in Reading, 31% in Science, and 20% meeting all four benchmarks. In 2015, benchmarks were met by 60% of students in English, 36% in Mathematics, 40% in Reading, 34% in Science, and 22% in all four benchmarks.

Near Attainment of College and Career Readiness: Percent of 2017 ACT-tested high school graduates by ACT College Readiness Benchmark attainment and subject. In English, 30% of students were below the benchmark by 3 or more points, 12% were within 2 points of the benchmark and 58% met the benchmark. In Math, 44% of students were below the benchmark by 3 or more points, 13 percent were within 2 points of the benchmark and 42% met the benchmark. In reading, 57% percent of students were below the benchmark by 3 or more points, 9% of students were within 2 points of the benchmark, and 34% of students met the benchmark. In science, 50% of students were below the benchmark by 3 or more points, 16% were within 2 points of the benchmark, and 34% met the benchmark.

Wyoming state law requires all students to take the ACT as juniors. The results released today represent the most recent score for students that graduated in 2017. Beginning with the graduating class of 2013, all students whose scores are college reportable, both standard and extended time tests, are now included in the reports.

Wyoming is among 17 states that has results for 100 percent of graduating seniors.

A map of the US with the 2017 State Average Composite Score listed for all states who tested 100% of students with the ACT. State composite scores are listed in the following graph.

 

2017 State Average Composite ACT Score: Average Composite ACT Scores of States with 100% of graduates tested. Minnesota: 21.5, Colorado: 20.8, Wisconsin: 20.5, Missouri: 204, Montana: 20.3, Utah: 20.3, Wyoming: 20.2, Kentucky: 20.0, Tennessee: 19.8, Arkansas: 19.4, Louisiana: 19.4, Oklahoma: 19.4, Alabama: 19.2, North Carolina: 19.1, South Carolina: 18.7, Mississippi: 18.6, Nevada, 17.8

 

The Wyoming Readiness Report and ACT Profile Report can be found here.

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Media Contact:
Kari Eakins, Communications Director
kari.eakins@wyo.gov
307-777-2053

NEW CHIEF POLICY OFFICER JOINS WDE

CHEYENNE – State Superintendent Jillian Balow is pleased to announce the hiring of Megan Degenfelder as the new Chief Policy Officer at the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE). Megan previously worked in government affairs for Cloud Peak Energy in Gillette. Megan is a Casper native, former UW Student Body President, and was a classroom teacher in Beijing while she got her master’s in economics from the Beijing University of International Business and Economics.

Megan is exactly the kind of strategic thinking leader we need heading up our policy group at the WDE,” said Superintendent Balow. “Her experience in the classroom and the Wyoming legislature make her a great fit for where we are headed in Wyoming education. I also like the fact that she has deep roots in our state and is coming to WDE from the energy industry with a deep understanding of the fiscal challenges we face in education and as a state.”

WDE Chief of Staff Dicky Shanor added, “Because this position demands long hours and challenging issues, we really wanted to find someone with a solid policy background and a passion for education and Wyoming’s future-Megan fit this mold well. We are happy to have her on the team.”

Megan’s official start date was August 1. She is in charge of all legislative and other policy work including accountability, standards and assessment at the WDE.

“I am thrilled to take on this opportunity at the Department of Education. I look forward to working to overcome budgetary and other policy challenges facing our state in education, and hope to bring a fresh perspective to the team,” said Degenfelder.

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Media Contact:
Kari Eakins, Communications Director
kari.eakins@wyo.gov
307-777-2053

ESSA Update

Dear Superintendents,

This week there is an important memo related to assessment in the early grades. Please take note that this is the first of several key shifts to be made as we implement ESSA and a new assessment system.

ESSA UPDATE

Thank you for the focused effort to bring our state ESSA plan to near completion. We are on-track to submit a final plan to the U.S. Department of Education before most school districts convene for the school year. It has been my goal to ensure that you begin this academic year with an unobjectionable path forward with federal programs, assessment, standards, teacher certification, accountability, local reporting, and more.

Of the thirteen states that already submitted plans, most received feedback and several states may make significant changes to their plans. We have taken their lessons learned, worked closely with the USED and stakeholders, and carefully crafted a plan to help ensure a well rounded education for all Wyoming students.

I remain proud of the stakeholder driven plan. All told, we held fourteen public meetings, received 135 public comments, engaged with the tribes, and hosted 550 online survey participants. WDE also helped facilitate over a dozen stakeholder consultation groups.

While accountability is just one component of ESSA, a cohesive state system of accountability is a main objective. In the coming weeks, a number of reports to the legislature are due that will help solidify the use of one system. It is important to know that the state and federal accountability systems work in conjunction with one another and neither will be replaced by the other. The Wyoming Accountability in Education Act and resulting state accountability system are a mainstay in our state and a strength from which we devised the ESSA accountability plan. The two will merge to become the cohesive system designed to hold schools accountable for student growth and school improvement.

Navy Seals help with the Challenge Rodeo for kids during Cheyenne Frontier Days

Navy Seals help with the Challenge Rodeo for kids during Cheyenne Frontier Days

Challenge Rodeo at Cheyenne Frontier Days

Challenge Rodeo at Cheyenne Frontier Days

WDE Individual Learning Division helps with the Challenge Rodeo

WDE Individual Learning Division helps with the Challenge Rodeo

FEDERAL FUNDING OF EDUCATION

In late July, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations approved its Fiscal Year 2018 Labor-HHS-Education funding bill in a party-line 30-22 vote.  The Committee rejected a number of amendments to increase funding for education programs, including proposed increases for early childhood programs, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Title IIA of ESSA, and other key K-12 federal funding streams.  The Committee did include a $200 million increase in IDEA funding and a $100 million increase for ESSA Title IV, Part B (Student Support and Academic Achievement State Grants).  It did not fund the school choice programs proposed in President Trump’s budget. The House has not yet scheduled a date for consideration of the Committee-approved bill on the House floor. The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations has yet to publish or act on its Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations legislation.

I am very concerned about the possible elimination of funding for Title IIA of ESSA, the primary federal program to support effective teachers, which is authorized under ESSA to receive approximately $2.3 billion in Fiscal Year 2018. A mainstay of Wyoming’s ESSA plan is growing a strong and sustainable workforce of teachers and leaders.

Memos to be released on Monday, August 7

Jillian

ACT 2018 Test Window Options

ACT 2018 Test Window Options

2018 ACT Test Window Survey

As we prepare for the 2018 ACT administration, we need to gather additional information from each school. Please answer the following statement based on your school's testing calendar. This survey will need to be taken for each school in your district that serves 11th grade students. Please help us collect this information by September 1, 2017.

OPTION 1 - PAPER

Standard Test - March 20
Accommodated Test - March 20-23, 26
Make-Up Dates Standard Test - April 3 and/or April 24
Make-Up Dates Accommodated Test - April 3-6, 9-13, 16-17 and/or April 24-27, 30

OPTION 2 - PAPER

Standard Test - April 3
Accommodated Test - April 3-6, 9-13, 16-17
Make-Up Date Standard Test - April 24
Make-Up Date Accommodated Test - April 24-27, 30

OPTION 3 - ONLINE

Standard & Accommodated Test - April 3-5, 10-12
Make-Up Date Standard Test (paper) - April 24
Make-Up Date Accommodated Test (paper) - April 24-27, 30

Federal Funding of Education

Dear Superintendents,

There was notable news from Washington, DC this week regarding federal funding of education. Congress approved a $1 trillion omnibus spending bill which prevents a government shutdown and funds the government at updated levels through the end of September 2017.  President Trump is expected to sign the bill.

 The Department of Education will receive $68.2 billion in FY 2017. Here is a summary:

  • Title I—$15.5 billion, a $550 million increase above the prior fiscal year (including $450 million from the consolidation of the School Improvement Grants program into Title I).
  • Title II, Part A—which the Trump Administration had proposed to cut by $1.2 billion in FY 17, will be funded at $2.1 billion, a $294 million decrease.
  • Title IV, Part A—Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, will receive $400 million, a $122 million increase over the combined prior year funding levels for the programs consolidated in ESSA to create this program. Under ESSA sates may award these funds by formula or competitively to school districts or consortia of districts, with a priority for highest need.
  • Title IV, Part B—21st Century Community Learning Centers, will receive $1.2 billion, an increase of $25 million above FY 16. President Trump’s FY18 budget proposed to eliminate this program.
  • The Child Care and Development Block Grant will receive a $95 million increase, while Head Start will receive an $85 million increase.
  • Special education—$12 billion, up 1%, which maintains the federal share of the extra costs of educating children with disabilities at approximately 16% of per pupil expenditures.
  • Impact Aid—$1.3 billion, up $23 million
  • Charter schools – $342 million, up $9 million
  • Indian Education – $165 million, up $21 million
  • Education for Homeless Children and Youth – $77 million, up $7 million
  • TRIO programs – up $50 million, proposed elimination by President Trump’s FY18 budget.

ENDOW

Recently, Governor Mead named an executive council for the ENDOW (Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming) Initiative. Please see this correspondence to the governor regarding council membership. In the coming months, a number of steering committees will be developed. To you, I reiterate the importance of education leaders’ participation on these steering committees. The relationship between our economy and our education system is undeniable and deep. It would be unfortunate to not have education represented in this important work.

ACYPL

Malaysian members of the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) are immersing in local, state, and federal politics. It was a privilege to discuss Wyoming’s education system with them.

Memos to be released on Monday, May 8:

  Jillian

WASA Conference

Dear Superintendents,

It was a privilege to spend time with you at the WASA Conference. Congratulations to retiring superintendents and award recipients! And, thank you for the warm welcome and conversation–my update this week will be brief.

NatlDayPrayer

Prayers from children across the state are presented to Governor Mead on Wyoming’s National Day of Prayer

AcBowl

WDE and SBE go head-to-head in a mock Academic Bowl presented by WDE Deaf/Hard of Hearing staff and students

 

I travel to DC next week to meet with Secretary DeVos with other CCSSO directors. In particular, we will be discussing the President’s budget proposal, ESSA plan submission, and state-specific perspectives/challenges.

The first round of ESSA plans were submitted by states. Below are several links to information about the submissions:

Memos to be released on April 23, 2017:

Jillian

OER Platform Requirements Survey

Open Education Resources Platform Survey
For example, a link to OERCommons.org