All posts by tgabrukiewicz

Public Input Requested on Math Performance Standards

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education  is collecting public input on the Performance Standards identified for the 2018 Wyoming Math Content and Performance Standards at the request of the State Board of Education (SBE). Previously, all Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs) were deemed the Performance Standards to measure student proficiency. The SBE asked the Math Standards Review Committee to identify a subset of PLDs to be the Performance Standards, on which students will be assessed through the district assessment system.

1. Review the Proposed 2021 Math Performance Standards.

2. Provide input through any of the following options:

a. Complete the Math Performance Standards Public Survey by 11:59 p.m. on April 28, 2021.

b. Attend the virtual public input meeting from 4:30-6 p.m. MST on April 22, 2021. (Join Zoom Meeting or dial +1 346 248 7799)

c. Attend the virtual public input meeting from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. MST on April 26, 2021. (Join Zoom Meeting or dial +1 346 248 7799)

3. The input collected on the Performance Standards will be shared with the SBE.

For more information, contact Alicia Wilson, Math Consultant, at 307-777-5036 or  or Barb Marquer, Standards Supervisor, at 307-777-5506 or

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director

Public Input Sought on 2021 State System of Support, Federally-Funded Title Programs

CHEYENNE – Wyoming school personnel, parents, and community members are invited to participate in four education program surveys to help determine what activities and pertinent professional development training is offered by the Wyoming Department of Education to further support school districts through the State System of Support and specific federally funded Title programs.

Participants are encouraged to review the individual survey descriptions and complete all applicable surveys. Those surveys include:

  • Statewide System of Support Survey: requests input from district and school personnel regarding professional development topics, desired meeting times/options, and multi-tiered systems of support implementation.
  • Federal Title I Survey: requests input from all stakeholders on use of state level federal dollars to support Title I schools and schools in improvement status.
  • Federal Title II-A Survey: requests input from all stakeholders on use of state level federal dollars to support the professional development needs of teachers, principals, and other school leaders.
  • Federal Title IV-A Survey: requests input from all stakeholders on use of state level federal dollars to increase access to a well-rounded education for all students, supporting safe and healthy school environments, and increasing access to learning supported by technology.

The surveys will be open until March 31, 2021.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director

Educational Opportunities Available

Dear Superintendents,

Please take a few moments to preview this week’s memos.


  1. An application for early literacy funds and participation in Wyoming’s full court-press literacy initiative, Wyoming Believing in Literacy Together (WY BILT). Professional development for teachers and leaders, high quality curriculum and assessment, and scientifically-based instructional methods are keys to success.
  2. Surveys that inform our work and priorities at the WDE.
  3. A very special opportunity for two+ high school civics and journalism classes.

Memos to be released today:

Blue Balow Signature

Wyoming Students Selected for United States Senate Youth Program

CHEYENNE – Zoe Marie Crisp and Grace Fain Steenbergen will join Senator John Barrasso and Senator Cynthia Lummis in representing Wyoming during the 59th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) Washington Week, set for March 14—17, 2021.

Zoe Crisp of Jackson and Grace Steenbergen of Burns were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation who will each also receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 program will break ground as the first-ever fully virtual Washington Week, and is designed to be a highly interactive and exciting education and leadership forum for the nation’s most outstanding student leaders.

The USSYP was established by the U.S. Senate in 1962, and provides an educational experience for students interested in public service careers. The program provides an in-depth view of the Senate and federal government, as well as a deeper understanding of the relationships between the Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Branches. During the program week, the student delegates will attend online meetings and briefings with senators, the president, a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies and senior members of the national media, among others.

Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education nationwide, 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  Jillian Balow, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Zoe Crisp, a senior at Jackson Hole High School, serves as the co-president of the student council, and has assisted new high school students and parents in the incoming Ninth Grade Open House, acted as a student peer tutor to Middle School students in the Student to Student Peer Tutoring program, assisted local veterans during the schoolwide annual Veterans Day event, completed a community based internship at the Mannen and Browne Law Firm as a part of completion of the Jackson Hole High School School to Career Program, and has facilitated many school wide events. One of these events included the organization of student to student round table discussions, where students from all backgrounds and grades discussed race, equality and inclusion for all. Zoe’s future plans include majoring in political science at the College of Charleston and then law school.

Grace Steenbergen, a junior at Burns Junior-Senior High School, serves as the vice president of the student council. Grace is a leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Future Business Leaders of America, 4-H, and the Future Farmers of America, where she has served as the Greenhand president, secretary and reporter over several years. She volunteers with the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, the Wyoming Hunger Initiative and the Wyoming Equality Group. Grace earned her bronze and silver Wyoming Congressional Award medals and served as the Intermediate National Ambassador for the American Gelbvieh Association. Grace’s future plans include graduating high school in 2022, and attending Oklahoma State University where she will focus her undergraduate studies in animal science and biochemistry. She plans to earn a  Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine.

Chosen as alternates to the 2021 program are both residents of Laramie, Collin Krueger, and  Leila Johnson, who attend Laramie High School.

Each year this extremely competitive merit-based program brings the most exceptional high school students – two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity – to Washington, D.C. for an intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it. However, this year, the program will be held online. The mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service.

For more information, visit:

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director

Education Celebrations & Observations

Dear Superintendents,

This week is a big week for education celebrations and observations:

And, we continue to celebrate Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the whole month of February. Governor Gordon signed a proclamation earlier this week.


Handbook from CDC and U.S. Department of Education

One week ago the CDC and U.S. Dept. of Education released a guide for reopening schools across the nation. The focus of the guide is on the implementation of the strategies that Wyoming implemented before we began this school year. Thank you, Wyoming educators, families, and students, for setting a high standard for in-person instruction in America. I am anxious to continue sharing our success story.

Both the CDC and U.S. Department of Education recommend that schools that have safely reopened do not shift course based on the guidance, but that we ensure safety strategies are still in place.

Other Resources

These are not from the CDC or U.S. Department of Education but may be of help as you plan for summer learning and the use of local CARES/ESSER funds.

  • New Spotlights Share Innovations for Providing Educators Professional Development on Trauma: Looking for ways to train district and school staff about trauma? The National Center for Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE) recently released a new set of spotlights highlighting innovative practices for providing educators professional development on trauma based on the work of the Promoting Student Resilience grantees. Providing high-quality professional development activities can build the capacity of school staff to create safe, supportive learning environments that offer stability and positive relationships that reduce the negative effects of traumatic events on youth development. Each state spotlight includes a point of contact for the grantee who can share additional information about the implementation of these practices.
  • New RAND study on Summer Learning: RAND recently published Every Summer Counts: A Longitudinal Analysis of Outcomes from the National Summer Learning Project, which examined the implementation and effectiveness of voluntary summer learning programs in five school districts and shares key findings and recommendations for future summer programming. Among the recommendations:
    • Districts offering voluntary summer programs that seek to provide academic benefits should offer at least five weeks of programming, and preferably six, with at least three hours of academic instruction per day.
    • To increase program effectiveness and maximize their return on investment, districts should focus on ensuring strong student attendance, productive use of instructional time, and high-quality instruction.


WDE takes a quick Zoom break to share a few random acts of kindness during #RAKWeek

Memo to be released today:


Blue Balow Signature

Statement to President Biden Penned by Five State Superintendents and Commissioners of Education

CHEYENNE – On February 17, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow submitted a letter to President Joe Biden on behalf of State Superintendents and Commissioners representing North Dakota, Montana, Alaska and Utah. The letter, which follows, expresses the five education representatives opposition to the actions taken to ban oil and gas leases on federal land and to curtail production and transmission of the commodities.

The Honorable Joseph Biden
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

February 17, 2021

Dear Mr. President:

It is unusual that state education leaders would be in a position to warrant this letter. We write to oppose the actions taken to ban oil and gas leases on federal land and to curtail production and transmission of the commodities. Specifically, 1) The Department of the Interior’s Order 3395 places a moratorium on new mining, oil, and gas leasing and permitting on federal lands, off and onshore; 2) Section 208 of the Climate Crisis Executive Order places a “pause” on entering into new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or offshore waters; and allows for review and reconsideration of  federal oil and gas permitting and leasing.

As state education chiefs we have appreciated generous access to your education transition team and we had multiple opportunities to discuss schools safely reopening, student well-being, and academic priorities. We are also enthused that U.S. Secretary of Education nominee, Miguel Cardona, most recently served as a state education chief, and well understands the critical leadership role that we have as state leaders. We look forward to working collaboratively on many education issues. Thus, it is imperative that we bring to light the arbitrary and inequitable move to shut down oil and gas production on federal lands in our states that depend on revenues from various taxes, royalties, disbursements, and lease payments to fund our schools, community infrastructure, and public services.

  • In Wyoming, the oil and natural gas industry contributed $740 million in funding for K-12 education and $28 million to Wyoming’s higher education system in 2019. 92% of all natural gas and 51% of oil produced in Wyoming comes from federal lands. The ban translates into the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars for education and 13,300 direct jobs in a state of 500,000.
  • In Montana, $30 million in revenue is at-risk, along with over 3,000 jobs.
  • In North Dakota, the lease moratorium would result in 13,000 lost jobs over four years, along with $600 million in lost tax revenue and a $750 million loss in personal income. North Dakota’s oil and gas industry accounts for 24,000 direct jobs in the state.
  • In Utah, $72 million in revenue is at risk with 11,000 jobs at stake.
  • In Alaska, over $24 million in state revenue is tied to federal leases for oil and natural gas, along with 3,500 jobs.

As state education chiefs, we place equity and quality at the forefront of policy making. We care deeply about clean air and clean water for future generations. And, we advocate fiercely for adequate funding for all students in all schools. Reform of the industry is necessary and can be accomplished, but not by abruptly restricting industries that define our culture and the generate revenue on which so many rely.

Mr. President, as state education leaders, we are uniquely positioned to think about how to support and fund education for the next generation. Given support by your administration, in the form of an exemption from orders that diminish the oil and natural gas industry, our states can continue to diversify and innovate the industry and fund education. Our shared goals are a reduced global carbon footprint, protected wildlife, and quality educational opportunities for all children.

We thank you for your consideration and we welcome a continued conversation.


Jillian Balow, Wyoming Elected State Superintendent
Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota Elected State Superintendent
Elsie Arntzen Montana Elected State Superintendent
Michael Johnson, Alaska Governor-appointed State Commissioner
Sydnee Dickson, Utah Board-appointed State Superintendent

Cover Letter

Signed Letter

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director

Summary of Federal Education-Related Actions

President Biden has approved many executive actions (orders, directives, memoranda, proclamations, etc.) that concern schools, students, and families.  Below is a summary of the major education-related actions:

Of course, two additional actions negatively impact education funding for Wyoming and other states with mineral production on federal lands:


I am excited to see the rollout of a new FAFSA campaign in Wyoming – more to come. In the meantime, since the 2021-22 FAFSA form became available on October 1, 2020, the completion rate among high school seniors is down 12% compared to the same time last year. Students, educators, counselors, and parents can access resources at and via the myStudentAid mobile application using a computer, tablet, or cell phone.


The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) launched a Reduce the Risk of Ransomware campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of ransomware among schools and other organizations that hackers have particularly targeted.


February is CTE Month. It feels very different in 2021 and I miss the students, teachers, & advisors coming to the Capitol to visit with legislators and others.


Last week some of WDE’s senior staff volunteered for the Friday Food Bag Foundation in Cheyenne. We know programs like this exist all over the state and we are grateful that school serves as the hub for distributing weekend meals.

Memos to be released today:

Blue Balow Signature

Random Acts of Kindness Week

Dear Superintendents,

Governor Gordon signed a proclamation recognizing February 14-20, 2021 as Random Acts of Kindness Week. In the past, schools in Wyoming have been very involved in making the most of this week. Here are several resources as we navigate random acts of kindness in a COVID-19 world.


Memos to be released today:

Blue Balow Signature

Public Input Requested for Proposed Science Performance Standards

CHEYENNE – The 2016 Wyoming Science Content and Performance Standards have been updated to meet the request of the State Board of Education (SBE) to identify Performance Standards. Content Standards are what students should know and be able to do, and Performance Standards specify the degree of understanding. Districts are expected to assess students on Performance Standards through the District Assessment System. 

For Public Input on Science Performance Standards:

The input collected on the Performance Standards will be shared with the SBE.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director