Category Archives: News Releases

News releases from the Wyoming Department of Education

Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students Advance to National Academic Bowl

The Academic Bowl team members and coaches all proudly wearing Wyoming football jerseys while in sunny California for the West Regionals.
(L-R) Coach Jo Otterholt, Josh Parsons (Gillette), Gabi Reimann (Casper), Josh Graves (Green River), Rachel Lebsack (Wheatland), and Coach Meghan Watt.

CHEYENNE – Wyoming’s Academic Bowl Team of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (D/HH) high school students will advance to Gallaudet University 2017 National Academic Bowl competition in Washington, D.C., in April for the third consecutive year after a triumphant second place finish in the West Regionals.

“We finished second in the Championship Round against the first place team of the other pool,” said coach Jo Otterholt. “It was our only loss for the entire 2 days of the competition. We were the only team with 9-0 when we entered the championship match. This year’s team is super excited as they feel like they have a strong Academic Team.”

“I am so proud of these students,” said WDE Chief Policy Officer Lisa Weigel. “They work with their WDE coaches [and teachers in their local schools] all school year to prepare for this annual competition. Many say this two-day event is more difficult than taking the ACT test.”

“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to support these students. It’s a compliment to the education they receive in Wyoming schools that they’re successful at this level of academic competition,” said Anne-Marie Williams, WDE Director of Individual Learning.

Gallaudet University is the only University for D/HH students in the world, and hosts 80 teams in four regional sites in United States. The Academic Bowl is unique, in that it fosters camaraderie among D/HH students.

The coaches traveled with four Wyoming team members to California School for the Deaf in Riverside, California, where Wyoming faced off against nearly 40 of their D/HH counterparts at the West Regionals. The questions stem from all areas of academics and more, including arts, sports, Deaf history, politics, and current news and events.

“It’s a learning and testing atmosphere for two days, all at the same time, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and well into the evening during the play-offs in tournaments,” said Otterholt. “Although they’re from 13 Western states, these kids form lasting friendships and stay in touch throughout the year. They support and cheer each other on.” Additional friendships are formed when they attend the National competitions.

Teammates Gabi Reimann (Natrona #1), Josh Graves (Sweetwater #2), Rachel Lebsack (Platte #1), and Josh Parsons (Campbell #1) will travel to the National Competition with coaches Jo Otterholt and Meghan Watt. Gallaudet University provides all-expense paid flights, meals and lodging for 25 competing teams for four days, April 1-4, 2017. The competition can be followed at the GU Youth Programs/Academic Bowl 2017 website.

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Watch Gabi Reimann video

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

Call for Participants: Math Standards Review Committee

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) is seeking residents who are interested in serving on the Wyoming Math Standards Review Committee (MSRC). The committee begins work in the summer of 2017, with 2-6 days of meetings June through August. Additional meetings may occur throughout the next year. Math standards outline what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade level and by the time they graduate. Standards are concise written descriptions that describe educational objectives. They do not describe any particular teaching practice, curriculum, or assessment method.

Those interested in serving on this committee should complete the Call for Participants Survey. The survey closes at 11:59 p.m. on  April 11, 2017.

Completing this survey expresses interest in participating, though it does not commit anyone to serving on the Review Committee. Standards committee members will be chosen from the list of those interested, and will be contacted directly through the e-mail address provided in the survey.

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

School Protein Enhancement Pilot Project Launched

(L-R) WDE School Support Director Shelley Hamel, State Superintendent Jillian Balow, Sen. Brian Boner, Rep. Hans Hunt, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Public and Governmental Affairs Director Brett Moline, Converse #1 Food Service Manager Monte Gilbreath, and Rep. Tyler Lindholm stand behind Governor Matt Mead as he signs the bill into law.
(L-R) WDE School Support Director Shelley Hamel, State Superintendent Jillian Balow, Sen. Brian Boner, Rep. Hans Hunt, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Public and Governmental Affairs Director Brett Moline, Converse #1 Food Service Manager Monte Gilbreath, and Rep. Tyler Lindholm with Governor Matt Mead as he signs the bill into law.

CHEYENNE – A pilot project to encourage schools to serve local meat products is being established at the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) following the signing of SEA0052 School Nutrition Pilot Project into law on Friday. The bill allows the WDE to spend up to $25,000 to provide matching funds to school districts for the processing costs for livestock donated during the 2017-18 school year. The goal is to increase the quantity of Wyoming poultry, lamb, pork, beef or bison used in school lunches.

The main sponsor of the bill, Senator Brian Boner (R-Douglas), says he’s always been impressed with the generosity of his fellow Wyomingites: “At a time when our schools are under significant financial stress, folks are stepping up to help save our schools money and increase the quality of our school lunches by donating livestock to their local school districts. This legislation will further promote the exciting trends we’ve seen at the grassroots level in some of our communities. The ranchers who have and will donate to these programs serve as a reminder that the strength of this state is not in the decisions we make here in Cheyenne, but in the resilience and generosity of our people.”

The project will save schools money by lowering the processing costs. In addition, the project will allow schools to leverage Farm to School and Ag in the Classroom programs to incorporate their school lunches into field trips and lesson plans already taking place.

“We’ve already seen a handful of schools work to enhance how they connect students to where their food comes from, and this project will give some momentum to expanding those efforts across the state,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “This is a great example of the people of Wyoming coming together to do the right thing for our students.”

The WDE Nutrition team will write the rules for the School Protein Enhancement Pilot Project as part of the USDA School Nutrition Programs through a grant process. School districts interested in participating can contact Susan Benning at 307-777-6280 or susan.benning@wyo.gov or Brook Brockman at 307-777-2579 or brook.brockman1@wyo.gov. Anyone interested in donating meat products should contact their local school district.

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

Career Technical Education Month Recognized in Wyoming

CHEYENNE – Faculty and students across Wyoming are demonstrating the rigor and importance of Career Technical Education (CTE) courses by celebrating CTE Month this February. Activities taking place include participation in a national social media Thunderclap, spearheaded by the Association for Career and Technical Education.

“Career Technical Education helps make school relevant to students and gives them the skills they will need to be successful after high school,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “CTE month is a chance for us to highlight the efforts of schools to improve student outcomes and diversify our economy in Wyoming.”

CTE prepares students for a range of career options utilizing programs in high schools, career training centers, community and technical colleges, and four-year universities. A profile on Wyoming’s CTE efforts is available at http://www.acteonline.org/stateprofiles/.

Governor Matt Mead will underscore the state’s commitment to CTE by officially proclaiming February as CTE Month in Wyoming on Tuesday, February 14 at 9:30 a.m. at the Jonah Business Center, Room L-54.

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Information on Career Technical Student Organizations

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

Summer Food Service Program Seeking Sponsors

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education is seeking sponsors for a federally funded program that provides nutritious meals and snacks to children in low-income areas during the summer months to combat hunger and poor nutrition. Last year, Wyoming summer food service program sites provided 302,998 meals and snacks to children and teenagers through age 18.

Typical sponsors include public and private nonprofit schools; local, municipal, county, tribal and state government entities; private nonprofit organizations; public and private nonprofit camps; and public and private nonprofit universities or colleges.

Summer food program sites must be either in the attendance area of a school where 50 percent or more of students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals, or within the boundaries of a U.S. Census block where at least 50 percent of children are eligible for free and reduced-price meals at school. Once those criteria are met, the site is open to all area children under age 18.

Sponsors are reimbursed a set amount per each meal served.

Please contact Amanda Anderson at the Wyoming Department of Education for more information on the Summer Food Service Program at 307-777-7168 or amanda.anderson@wyo.gov.

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In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information
(e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at How to File a Program Discrimination Complaint and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or (3) email: program.intake@usda.gov.

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

Wyoming High School Graduation Rate Rises to 80%

CHEYENNE – High school graduation rates in Wyoming increased slightly for the fourth consecutive year, according to information released by the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) today. Students achieved an “on-time” graduation rate of 80.0 percent in 2015-16, the highest since 2009-10 when it reached 80.4 percent.

Full graduation rate statistics are available at edu.wyoming.gov/data/graduation-rates/.

“This past year we saw improvements in graduation rates almost across the board,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “Our accountability system shines a light on graduation rates and at-risk students, and motivates schools to make sure no one is falling through the cracks. It’s good to see the hard work from students and schools paying off in this steady growth in our graduation rate.”

Wyoming Graduation Rate, Percent of high school students graduating "on time". A graph shows the graduation rate was 77.5% in 2012-13, 78.6% in 2013-14, 79,41% in 2014-15, and 80.0% in 2015-16. Students are counted in the four-year, or on-time, high school graduation rate if they earn a diploma by September 15 following their cohort's fourth year.

Students in classically marginalized populations saw gains as well. Graduation rates increased in 2015-16 for American Indian students, Hispanic students, English Learners, students with Individualized Education Programs, and students that are eligible for free and reduced price lunch.

Thirteen Wyoming school districts posted graduation rates of 90 percent or above:

  • Park #16: 100%
  • Sheridan #3: 100%
  • Fremont #24: 96.67%
  • Big Horn #2: 96.36%
  • Fremont #6: 96.00%
  • Teton #1: 95.86%
  • Sublette #9: 94.23%
  • Big Horn #4: 93.75%
  • Lincoln #2: 93.66%
  • Sheridan #1: 93.33%
  • Laramie #2: 91.18%
  • Weston #7: 90.48%
  • Washakie #2: 90.00%

Since the 2009-10 school year, the WDE has calculated graduation rates using the Federal Four-Year Adjusted Cohort methodology established by the U.S. Department of Education, complying with federal law that requires all states to calculate graduation rates the same way. Students are counted in the four-year (“on-time”) high school graduation rate if they earn a diploma by September 15 following their cohort’s fourth year. Five- and six-year graduation rates are also calculated, and can be viewed with the rest of the graduation rate data.

Graduation Rate Slideshow

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

Wyoming Ranked Seventh in Education Quality

CHEYENNE – Wyoming was ranked seventh in the nation in Education Week’s 21st annual report card. Quality Counts – Under Construction: Building on ESSA’s K-12 Foundation gave Wyoming an overall score of 80.3 out of 100 points and a grade of B-minus. Wyoming was scored the highest among western states and above the nation’s grade of C.

“The 2017 Quality Counts report serves as a reminder that we are doing great things for kids in our state,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “Wyoming currently stands out as #1 in the nation when it comes to funding education equitably across all schools regardless of location or income levels. While Wyoming policymakers and educators rightly address our impending financial challenges, it’s essential that we continue to improve student achievement. According to the report, Wyoming is just above average in K-12 school achievement. While we are seeing progress on many achievement indicators, average is simply not where we need to be. Student outcomes remain my most important priority as State Superintendent. Thankfully, we are beginning to see the convergence of multiple efforts and initiatives including: a focus on career readiness; interventions for low-performing schools; a clearer connections between standards, assessments, and student success; and an overall shift from federal to state-led education. As this report shows, we have educators, students, families, and communities across our state who are dedicated and willing to see all students ready for success in school and life.”

The 2017 grades are based on three key indices: the Chance-for-Success Index; K-12 Achievement Index; and school finance.

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Audio from Superintendent Balow

Quality Counts 2017: Report and Rankings

Quality Counts 2017: State Report Cards Map

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

Public Comment of Rules for Wyoming Graduation Requirements

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education is seeking public comment on the Wyoming Graduation Requirements of Chapter 31, which can be viewed here. These rules establish the minimum requirements for a student to receive a high school diploma, along with a process for the State Board of Education to consult with school districts on the establishment of high school diploma policies.

The revisions to Chapter 31 are intended to remove unnecessary complexity for the school districts, honor the requirement to provide students with an equity of opportunity during their educational experience, and recognize the authority of each school district to decide the method(s) through which the requirements are met. A rationale for the revisions to these rules can be found in the Statement of Reasons.

Public comment on the proposed rules may be submitted from January 3, 2017 through March 3, 2017 online or by mail to:

Wyoming Department of Education
Attn: Julie Magee
2300 Capitol Avenue
Hathaway Building, 2nd Floor
Cheyenne, WY 82002

Comments will be posted on the Secretary of State website.

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

Wyoming Delegates Chosen for U.S. Senate Youth Program

CHEYENNE – Nicole Sanders, a senior at Powell High School, and Grace Anderson, a junior at Wyoming Virtual Academy, have been chosen to serve as Wyoming’s delegates for the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP). The delegates receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. for an intensive educational experience, and a $10,000 scholarship from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

“The process to select Wyoming’s delegates was exhaustive and extensive, and these two candidates excelled at every turn,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “Both Nicole and Grace are leaders who already serve their community in meaningful ways. They are outstanding students, and I’m proud to have them represent Wyoming as they meet with our nation’s leaders and experience public service firsthand.”

Nicole is on the Dean’s Honor Roll at Northwest College, in addition to being the student body president at Powell High School and a member of the National Honor Society. She volunteers for Loaves & Fishes, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and as a youth basketball coach at the Community Recreation Department.

Grace is Wyoming’s State Vice-President for Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America, in addition to serving as a district officer and as a public relations officer for her local chapter. She is also a student mentor, strongly involved in AP and concurrent enrollment classes, and is the National Honor Society President at her school.

Delegates will hear major policy addresses by senators, cabinet members, officials of the Departments of State and Defense, and other federal agencies, as well as participate in a meeting with a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and the president of the United States. Each session includes an in-depth question and answer period. The 55th Annual USSYP Washington Week will be held March 4-11, 2017.

The mission of the USSYP is to provide an opportunity for students to gain an in-depth view of the Senate and the federal government, as well as a deeper understanding of the relationships between the Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Branches. Two students are chosen from each state, along with two from the District of Columbia, and two from the Department of Defence Dependents Schools network.

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

Two Wyoming Schools Selected for the National Title I Distinguished School Award

CHEYENNE – Woodland Park Elementary School in Sheridan County School District #2 and Evansville Elementary School in Natrona County School District #1 have been selected for the National Title I Association Distinguished School Award.

“Recognition as a Title I Distinguished School is earned, it doesn’t just happen,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “We’re very proud of the exceptional work being done at Woodland Park and Evansville Elementary, and will be looking to them for promising practices and innovations to share with other schools.”

Woodland Park is awarded in the category of Exceptional Student Performance for Two or More Years. Their students have consistently met or exceeded expectations, and their assessment results demonstrate a commitment to high achievement and student learning. The school practices and use of Title I funds show sustained efforts to ensure that all students have an opportunity to succeed, including the manner in which their staff operate as a professional learning community to meet the needs of individual students.

Evansville is awarded in the category of Closing the Achievement Gap for their excellent work helping students on Free and Reduced Lunch perform well above the state average in math. More than 80 percent of their students are proficient or advanced in Math in several grade levels, and the students on Free and Reduced Lunch outperform the average student in the state. Evansville has ensured all students in the school recognize the importance of academics and helped students see the connections to the outside world, in particular through the use of a new greenhouse to promote STEM instruction at the elementary level.

Both schools will be recognized at the National Title I Conference in Long Beach, California February 22-25, 2017.

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