Category Archives: News Releases

News releases from the Wyoming Department of Education

Governor Approves Update to Math and Social Studies Standards, Graduation Requirements, and Accreditation Rules

CHEYENNE – Governor Matt Mead has signed and approved amendments to rules and regulations regarding Wyoming’s statewide standards for Math and Social Studies, high school graduation requirements, and district and school accreditation.

“Many stakeholders willingly came to the table to make sure all of these rules were updated to the benefit of Wyoming students, including agency staff, state board members, educators, administrators, higher ed, industry, and parents,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “The ultimate beneficiary is our students, and having good policies and standards like these in place creates an equal opportunity for every student to learn, regardless of where they live in Wyoming.”

“I am extremely excited to have the rules for graduation requirements signed by Governor Mead,” said State Board of Education Chairman Walt Wilcox. “I’ve heard from many districts that have been looking for this guidance and they are eager to get it in place. A thumbs up to the WDE staff that has been working hard on all three of these chapters of rules. Districts are also looking forward to having content areas in place from the work of the standards review committee, and with this approval they can begin aligning their curricula for their teachers and students.”

Standards define what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade
level in every subject. The math standards were reviewed as part of the approved timeline, which ensures all content areas are reviewed at least once every nine years. The social studies standards were reviewed following the passage of a law in 2017 which called for the inclusion of Native American history, culture, and contemporary contributions in the standards. Additionally, the science extended standards for students with significant cognitive disabilities were approved. State law allows up to three full school years for the implementation of standards.

“I am so pleased by the contributions of our Wyoming educators in reviewing and amending our statewide standards,” added Superintendent Balow. “We can confidently say that our math standards align well with industry and higher ed, and thanks to the contributions of many tribal members, we know that our social studies standards will present a complete picture of Wyoming history to our students.”

The revisions to the graduation requirements were made in response to a change in state law. The changes include the elimination of the tiered diploma system, identification of the required components of each district’s assessment system, and the establishment of a consultation process between the SBE and local school districts. Additionally, changes to the rules would give districts more flexibility to help students meet the graduation requirements. These rules will be in effect beginning with the Class of 2019.

The update to the accreditation rules was necessitated by changes to state and federal law. The rules are meant to ensure that Wyoming school districts meet statutory requirements intended to improve student learning, and ensure equity of opportunity to learn. They also now include a description of the process by which Wyoming school districts are annually accredited by the SBE. The 2018-19 school year will serve as a pilot year for this new accreditation process.

Superintendent Balow said that the new accreditation process allows for cost savings for the state and flexibility for school districts,

“Bringing the accreditation process back in-house allowed us to eliminate an expensive contract, and lets districts have more say in how their external reviews are conducted by introducing a peer review option,” she said. “These changes mean we are doing more to make sure schools are doing the best they can for their students while spending less.”

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

School Safety and Security Summit to Follow Federal Listening Session in Cheyenne

School Safety Summit Logo

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) will be holding a School Safety and Security Summit in Cheyenne on August 7-8, 2018. The Summit will follow an afternoon of roundtable discussions and a public input session hosted by the Federal Commission on School Safety (FCSS) in Cheyenne on August 7.

“We are thrilled the U.S. Department of Education chose Wyoming as one of four locations for these public listening sessions,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Important conversations are happening at the local, state, and federal level about school safety and security, and it’s our privilege to assist educators and communities in keeping students safe and supporting them in every way that we can.”

After the FCSS public input session at Little America, the Summit will begin with a networking reception on the evening of August 7 at Terry Bison Ranch. The next day, the School Facilities Division of the State Construction Department is bringing in national school safety expert Randy Braverman as the keynote speaker. Braverman is a Senior Consultant at Facility Engineering Associates PC in Chicago and has more than 25 years experience in managing security operations in a variety of roles, including Security Consultant, Director of Security and Campus Safety, and law enforcement officer.

Throughout the rest of the Summit, participants will rotate between three breakout sessions centered around school-based mental health support, information from the School Facilities Division, and best practices for school and law enforcement coordination.

Registration information and a full agenda for the Summit, along with information on the FCSS listening session are available on the WDE website.

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

Public Comment Open On Proposed Leader Evaluation Rules

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) seeks public comment on the Chapter 29 Rules: Evaluation Systems For District And School Leaders And Other Certified Personnel. These rules are being revised following the passage of SEA0031 during the 2017 Legislative session, which requires the implementation and administration of a comprehensive leader evaluation system.

The WDE worked with the State Board of Education and the Leader Certified Personnel Advisory Committee to develop a leader evaluation system for superintendents, district leaders, and school leaders. A rationale for the revisions to these rules can be found in the Statement of Reasons.

Public comment is open through September 15, 2018, and may be submitted online or mailed to:

Wyoming Department of Education
Attn: Laurel Ballard
122 W. 25th St. Suite E200
Cheyenne, WY 82002

All public comments will be recorded, filed and posted on the Secretary of State website as part of the rules promulgation process.

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

Grant Awards $295,000 for Computer Science Implementation

CHEYENNE – Seven innovative education programs across Wyoming have been selected to receive 2018 Wyoming Education Trust Fund grants, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow announced Friday.

Applications that showed the creation or improvement of computer science programs and professional development activities specific to computer science and computational thinking were given priority in the scoring process this cycle, Balow said. Each winning project will create computer science opportunities for students just entering kindergarten to high school seniors who will be going onto college, a career, or the military.

“Through the Wyoming Education Trust Fund, we were able to award funds for seven unique computer science projects across the state,” Balow said. “I am excited about the opportunity these schools have to blaze the trail for the rest of the state as we implement Boot Up Wyoming.”

In April, the Wyoming Department of Education launched its Boot Up Wyoming 2022 initiative to help school districts implement computer science in all Wyoming classrooms. During the 2018 Budget Session, the Wyoming Legislature passed Senate Enrolled Act 0048, which added computer science and computational thinking to the state educational program.

The seven winning projects include: Shoshoni Code Wranglers; Full STEM Ahead (Diamondville); Fremont @Coder (Lander); Computer Science-Roosevelt High (Casper); The Middle Space Project (Buffalo); CTacs-Computational Thinking and Computer Science (Wheatland); and Sublette School District No. 9 Cyber Academy (Big Piney). A full description of each project is available here.

In Big Piney, Superintendent Steven Loyd said his teachers set out to create an after-school ‘Cyber Academy’ for students in fifth through eighth grades. The program will focus on four integrated threads within the context of computer science, all while increasing the availability of computer science opportunities to low-income and female students.

“Thanks to the Wyoming Education Trust Fund Grant, the SCSD #9 Cyber Academy will provide students with a rich learning experience in STEM and computer science education,” Loyd said.

All seven grant projects funded this year will help expose Wyoming students to a host of new educational opportunities around computer science, Balow said.

“Each award will positively impact students, Wyoming communities, and our state,” she said. “Funds were awarded to bold and innovative computer science projects that range from targeting economically disadvantaged students to partnering with local businesses.”

Wyoming Education Trust Fund monies are available for one-year grants to any public school district. Districts may apply individually, or in conjunction with other districts. A total of $295,728 was granted this year. More information about the trust fund is available on the WDE website.

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

21st Century Community Learning Centers-Cohort 12 Awards

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) Cohort 12 grants. With $1.63 million in funding available, the WDE is awarding a grant to each of the following school districts and community-based organizations across the state.

  • Boys and Girls Club of Cheyenne – $108,677
  • Fremont County School District #1-Lander -$140,653
  • Greater WY Big Brothers Big Sisters-Albany County – $174,500
  • Lincoln County School District #2 – $190,000
  • Mercer Family Resource Center – $190,000
  • Teton Literacy Center – $122,446
  • Uinta County BOCES Education Center – $179,450
  • Washakie County School District #1 – $145,500
  • Weston County School District #1 – $190,000
  • Youth Emergency Services, Inc. – $190,000

The 21st CCLC program is authorized under Title IV, Part B, of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Recipients of 21st CCLC grants must serve students and families from low-performing, high needs schools with before/after school programs as well as summer learning programs. The grants are awarded for up to five years, with continued funding dependent on performance and Federal funding allocations. For more information about the individual programs, contact the recipients.

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

Wyoming Awarded USDA Grant to Expand Farm to School Programs

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education has been awarded a Farm to School Grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service to expand and evaluate Farm to School Programs in Wyoming.

“Farm to School programs offer some of the best ways to engage students with hands-on learning about themselves and their community,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “Giving children a better understanding of where their food comes from, before it shows up on their lunch tray or family dinner table, is so very important.”

The $95,607 grant will provide training on Good Agricultural Practices for school gardens, youth gardening programs, and culinary arts. It also will facilitate partnerships with the University of Wyoming Extension and Cent$ible Nutrition programs to support the incorporation of high tunnel gardening into school programs.

The USDA Farm to School Grants fund efforts to increase local foods served through child nutrition programs, teach children about food and agriculture through garden and classroom education, and develop schools’ and farmers’ capacities to participate in farm to school practices.

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USDA Release

FY 2018 Farm to School List of Awardees

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

Wyoming Awarded USDA Grant to Expand Farm to School Programs

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education has been awarded a Farm to School Grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service to expand and evaluate Farm to School Programs in Wyoming.

“Farm to School programs offer some of the best ways to engage students with hands-on learning about themselves and their community,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “Giving children a better understanding of where their food comes from, before it shows up on their lunch tray or family dinner table, is so very important.”

The $95,607 grant will provide training on Good Agricultural Practices for school gardens, youth gardening programs, and culinary arts. It also will facilitate partnerships with the University of Wyoming Extension and Cent$ible Nutrition programs to support the incorporation of high tunnel gardening into school programs.

The USDA Farm to School Grants fund efforts to increase local foods served through child nutrition programs, teach children about food and agriculture through garden and classroom education, and develop schools’ and farmers’ capacities to participate in farm to school practices.

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USDA Release

FY 2018 Farm to School List of Awardees

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

Public Comment Open on Proposed Rules

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education seeks public comment on changes to several rules and regulations including accreditation, statewide standards, graduation requirements, the Hathaway Scholarship Program, and a school nutrition project.

Public comment on all of the proposed rules is open through June 29, 2018. All public comments will be recorded, filed, and posted on the Secretary of State website as part of the rule promulgation process.

Chapter 6: District and School Accreditation
The proposed revisions to the Chapter 6 rules are based on recommendations from an Accreditation Task Force comprised of school district personnel. The adjustments are necessary due to changes in federal and state law, and now include a description of the process by which Wyoming school districts are annually accredited by the Wyoming State Board of Education. The proposed rules are meant to ensure that Wyoming school districts meet statutory requirements intended to improve student learning, and ensure equity of opportunity to learn. More information is available in the Statement of Reasons.

Public comment on these rules can be submitted online or may be mailed to:

Wyoming Department of Education
Attn: Bill Pannell
122 W. 25th St. Suite E200 
Cheyenne, WY 82002

Chapter 10: Wyoming Content and Performance Standards
The proposed Chapter 10 Rules include revisions to the Mathematics and Social Studies content areas, as well as the Science Extended Standards for students with significant cognitive disabilities. If fully approved, school districts would then have three full school years to align their curriculum to these standards. More information is available in the Statement of Reasons.

The Math Standards Review Committee recommended a revision of the current standards that include more grade-specific Mathematical Practices, integrates modeling within all grade levels, adds examples to standards and benchmarks, includes cross-disciplinary connections to other content areas, and identifies connections to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards, Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) standards, computational thinking skills, and financial literacy skills. Public comment on the proposed Math Standards can be made online.

The Social Studies Standards Review Committee recommended additions to the current standards that address the cultural heritage, history, and contemporary contributions of American Indians. Additions include defining Indigenous Tribes of Wyoming, enhancing the standards regarding government, culture, history, and geography with Performance Level Descriptors as needed, examples, and identifying cross-curricular connections to other content areas. Public Comment on the proposed additions to the Social Studies Standards can be made online.

The Science Extended Standards Review Committee designed standards aligned to the 2016 Science Standards for the 1 percent of the most significant cognitively disabled students. The recommended standards were built to four performance levels with embedded examples. Public comment on the proposed Science Extended Standards can be made online.

In addition to the online surveys for each content area, public comment on these rules can be mailed to:

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

Chapter 31: Wyoming Graduation Requirements
The proposed Chapter 31 Rules include several revisions required by a change in state law. These revisions incorporate the elimination of the tiered diploma system, identification of the required components of each district’s assessment system, and the establishment of a consultation process between the SBE and local school districts. Additionally, changes to the rules would give districts more flexibility to help students meet the graduation requirements. More information is available in the Statement of Reasons.

Public comment on these rules can be submitted online or may be mailed to:

Wyoming Department of Education
Attn: Julie Magee
122 W. 25th St. Suite E200 
Cheyenne, WY 82002

Chapter 38: Hathaway Scholarship Program
The proposed Chapter 38 Rules reflect two changes in state law. One requires the WDE to create a grade-weighting policy for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and college-level courses taken in high school. The other extends the scholarship application deadline from two years to four years after high school. More information is available in the Statement of Reasons.

Public comment on these rules can be submitted online or may be mailed to:

Wyoming Department of Education
Attn: Bradley Barker III
122 W. 25th St. Suite E200 
Cheyenne, WY 82002

Chapter 43: School Nutrition Project
The proposed Chapter 43 rules extend the School Nutrition Pilot Program for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years. More information is available in the Statement of Reasons.

Public comment on these rules can be submitted online or may be mailed to:

Wyoming Department of Education
Attn: Susan Benning
122 W. 25th St. Suite E200
Cheyenne, WY 82002

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

Wyoming NAEP Scores Continue to Outpace Nation in Reading and Math

CHEYENNE – Overall, Wyoming’s fourth and eighth grade students in 2017 continue to outperform national average test scores in reading and mathematics on the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation’s Report Card or NAEP.

The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) today released the state’s reading and mathematics results.

NAEP provides an important independent look at how our schools are doing, and these results show that Wyoming schools and students have a lot to be proud of, particularly with fourth grade math,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “Wyoming spends more per student than many states, and by equitably distributing those funds, we create opportunities for every student to be successful. Teachers have the funds and the support they need to make sure curriculum is aligned to assessments and the standards. As we move to a new statewide assessment that provides more data to teachers and takes up less time in the classroom, I am confident Wyoming will continue to be a national leader in education.”

4th Grade Math State Comparisons: 0 scored better than Wyoming, 8 were "on par" with Wyoming, and 44 scored lower than Wyoming.

No state performed above Wyoming’s average NAEP score in grade four mathematics in 2017 (in 2015, two states had higher grade four math scores). Additionally, Wyoming was one of only six states with over 50 percent of students in the sample scoring proficient or advanced in grade four mathematics.

Another bright spot in the new results was an increase in grade eight mathematics scores for the state’s Native American students; their increased performance in mathematics during 2017 significantly reduced the achievement gap between Native American and White students in Wyoming as previously reported in 2015.

Overall, average reading and mathematics scores in Wyoming for both grades four and eight were statistically unchanged from NAEP results reported in 2015. Similarly over the four-year reporting period from 2013 to 2017, Wyoming results in reading and mathematics at both grades were statistically flat or unchanged.

2017 Wyoming NAEP 4th Grade Math Scores show that in 2013 Wyoming student scored an average of 247 compared to the national average of 241, in 2015 Wyoming students scored an average of 247 compared to the national average of 240, and in 2017 Wyoming student scored an average of 248 compared to the national average of 239. The scores are on a scale of 0-500.2017 Wyoming NAEP 8th Grade Math Scores show that in 2013 Wyoming students scored an average of 288 compared to the national average of 284, in 2015 Wyoming students scored an average of 287 compared to the national average of 281, and in 2017 Wyoming student scored an average of 289 compared to the national average of 282. The scores are on a scale of 0-500.2017 Wyoming NAEP 4th Grade Reading Scores show that in 2013 Wyoming students scored an average of 226 compared to the national average of 221, in 2015 Wyoming students scored an average of 228 compared to the national average of 221, and in 2017 Wyoming student scored an average of 227 compared to the national average of 221. The scores are on a scale of 0-500.2017 Wyoming NAEP 8th Grade Reading Scores show that in 2013 Wyoming student scored an average of 271 compared to the national average of 266, in 2015 Wyoming students scored an average of 269 compared to the national average of 264, and in 2017 Wyoming student scored an average of 269 compared to the national average of 265. The scores are on a scale of 0-500.

Unlike the state’s WY-TOPP census, which tests all students, NAEP is administered to a statistical sample of students and does not render individual test results for students or their schools. As such, NAEP data represent a sampling of Wyoming students and their responses.

NAEP testing is administered every two years in reading and mathematics to Wyoming’s fourth and eighth grade students. The 2017 results mark a shift in NAEP procedures from a paper-and-pencil  testing format to digitally-based assessments. All fifty states participate in the assessment, as well as the District of Columbia and Department of Defense (DoD) schools. NAEP provides an external reference or point-of-comparison to audit, review, and compare each state’s educational program. Additionally, NAEP provides a stable trend line for tracking achievement during the current flux nationally in state testing programs.

For more details on Wyoming’s 2017 NAEP results and click the “2017 NAEP” button, or click on the links below:

Reading Report

Fourth Grade Reading

Eighth Grade Reading

Mathematics Report

Fourth Grade Mathematics

Eighth Grade Mathematics

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

Boot Up Wyoming 2022 Aims to Implement Computer Science

Boot Up WyomingCHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) announced today the launch of Boot Up Wyoming 2022, an initiative to implement computer science in all Wyoming schools.

“Computer science is a critical skill set that all students need to build, starting from an early age,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “It is important today and even more important tomorrow. I am so excited for Wyoming’s students, who will have the opportunity to learn computer science at all grade levels.”

During the 2018 Budget Session, the Wyoming Legislature passed Senate Enrolled Act 0048, which adds computer science and computational thinking to the state educational program. Effective July 1, 2018, a computer science course may count as a science course in high school graduation requirements, and may count as either a science course or an “additional math” course in the Hathaway Success Curriculum. Standards must also be developed, approved, and fully implemented at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year.

Boot Up Wyoming 2022 will focus on analyzing the costs and district needs to offer computer science, ensuring teachers are trained to teach the subject, and facilitating the development of statewide standards for promulgation by the State Board of Education (SBE).

Superintendent Balow added, “We will work quickly and carefully to implement computer science education within five years. This will require continuous collaboration with our partners to address challenges, identify best practices, and ensure that every teacher has the resources they need to successfully support computer science education in Wyoming.”

Cost and Needs Analysis

WDE staff will visit all 48 school districts over the next six months in order to thoroughly analyze all changes and costs necessary to implement computer science. Each visit will include meetings with the district’s superintendent, curriculum director, business manager, tech director, principals, computer science teachers, and any other personnel that the district deems necessary.

The WDE hosts webinars on the first and third Wednesday of each month on the creation and development of computer science programs. Each meeting highlights an industry partner and a Wyoming school district. Details are available here.

Teacher Training

The Professional Teaching Standards Board offers four pathways to educators and districts to obtain computer science certifications. They include the traditional route of program completion with an Institutional Recommendation, completion of 27 credit hours and a passing score on the Praxis exam, a Professional, Industry, and Careers Permit, and a new Exception Authorization in Computing Technology. More information is available here.

The Wyoming Educational Trust Fund for Innovative Education Grant will give priority to districts showing creation or improvement of computer science programs and professional development for the 2018-19 grant award year. All Wyoming public school districts are eligible for this one-year grant, with a total of $250,000 available. Applications are due by 5 p.m. on May 25, 2018. More information is available on the WDE website.

A list of computer science professional development opportunities and resources is also available on the WDE website.

Standards Development

The Computer Science Standards Review Committee will begin meeting in the summer of 2018, with 2-6 days of meetings through the fall, and additional meetings as necessary throughout the next year. Any educators, community members, parents, or industry partners interested in serving on the committee should complete the Call for Participants Survey by May 14, 2018. Completing this survey expresses interest in participating, though it does not commit anyone to serve on the committee.

In addition, the WDE and SBE seek input on the development of the standards for the committee to review as they begin the development process. Input can be given online through June 3, 2018  or at regional community meetings from 6-8 p.m. at the following locations:

  • May 14, Central Admin. Building, 665 N. Tyler Street, Pinedale
  • May 15, Park #1 Support Services Building, 245 N. Evarts Street, Powell
  • May 15, Central Admin. Building, 3500 Foothill Blvd., Rock Springs
  • May 16, Central Admin. Building, 201 N. Connor Street, Sheridan
  • May 16, Laramie #1 Storey Gym, 2811 House Avenue, Cheyenne
  • May 17, Natrona #1 Central Services Facility, 970 N. Glenn Road, Casper

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