Category Archives: News Releases

News releases from the Wyoming Department of Education

Cheyenne Student Wins Contest to Name New Statewide Assessment

State Superintendent Jillian Balow and winner Aiden Weinzerl stand in front of a poster made by Aiden's classmates which reads, "Congrats Aiden!!! You made it to the TOP!!" and has a stick figure of Aiden standing on top of the world.

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) announced today that Aiden Weinzierl, a sixth-grade student at Anderson Elementary School in Cheyenne, has won the contest to name the new statewide assessment with his submission, WY-TOPP, for Wyoming Test of Proficiency and Progress.

WY-TOPP will replace the Proficiency Assessment for Wyoming Students (PAWS) in grades 3-8 and ACT Aspire in grades 9-10. The ACT will continue to be administered to students in grade 11.

“With 99 submissions from across the state, we had several good options to choose from,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “We went with WY-TOPP because it reflects the quality of the assessment as well as where Wyoming is with respect to its student and teachers.”

WY-TOPP will assess proficiency in reading and math for students in grades 3-10 and science for students in grades 4, 8, and 10. It will be an online assessment with various item types such as multiple choice, technology enhanced, and constructed response. The results will be comparable to students’ scores from other states and will be used for accountability purposes.

The WDE is currently in contract negotiations with the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The Wyoming State Board of Education approved them as the vendor for the new statewide assessment in February. Further information including testing dates and technology specifications will be available once contracts are in place.

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

Arts Added to the 2017 Roadmap to STEM Conference

Clear plastic cups are turned into robots that draw by installing a small fan and taping markers to the outside.

CHEYENNE – The fourth annual Roadmap to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Conference will include a focus on the Arts. The conference will feature the theme “STE(a)Ming into the Future” at Gillette College August 2-4, 2017.

“Including the Arts is way for us to improve the Roadmap to STEM Conference,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “Educators will receive hands on, practical training that they can immediately use in their classrooms to further induce creativity and innovation in science, technology, engineering and math.”

Three days of active learning and practical classroom resources for almost any P-16 learning environment await participants. The Ann Simpson Artmobile will be on display and can be viewed during the Share-A-Thon along with other products and services that align with STEM education.

Dr. Lodge McCammon will offer a keynote presentation on music and movement, showing how his kinesthetic strategies can be used to ignite the brain and enhance the STEM learning environment.

Session topics will include connecting culinary arts to math, emphasizing creativity in core curriculum, enhancing scientific understanding through drawing, artistic inquiry in the engineering design process, making drones, integrating elementary science activities across curriculum, coding in the classroom, and much more.

The conference will partner with local professionals on half-day STEM experiences to connect educators with real-world applications of STEM. A variety of off-site STEM adventures will be available, including a geological excursion to Devil’s Tower and an interactive exploration of solar energy.

In addition, Physics Girl Dianna Cowern will offer a keynote on engaging girls in science and STEM, and Wyoming’s 2017 Teacher of the Year Ryan Fuhrman will share take away strategies and resources that he uses in his 7th grade classroom to guide students to think more deeply using the new Wyoming science standards.

Information about the conference and registration can be found at:
edu.wyoming.gov/in-the-classroom/career-tech-ed/stem/.

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STEM Conference Video

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

Public Meetings Set on Draft ESSA State Plan

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) has scheduled a series of public meetings for gathering input of the draft state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). These meetings will inform the public of the draft ESSA State Plan and gather input to be shared with WDE staff for their consideration as they continue work on the plan.

Stakeholder engagement and public review of the plan are required under ESSA. The draft ESSA State Plan proposes long-term goals for schools, measures for how well schools are doing, and priorities for the use of federal funds to support schools, students, and educators.

The ESSA public meetings will take place at 6:30 p.m.

  • May 4, online, register here
  • May 11, Northwest College, Fagerburg Building Rm  70, 233 W 7th Street, Powell
  • May 18, Riverton Middle School, Multipurpose Room, 840 Major Avenue, Riverton
  • June 7, Laramie Junior High School, Library, 1355 North 22nd Street, Laramie

The public meetings take place during the 45-day comment period on Wyoming’s draft ESSA State Plan, which goes through June 8, 2017. Comments can also be submitted online or by mail to:

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

ESSA reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the principal federal law affecting K-12 education, and replaces No Child Left Behind. Wyoming must submit its ESSA State Plan by September 18, 2017.

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

Regional Community Meetings on Math Standards

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) will conduct regional community meetings on Wyoming’s Mathematics Content and Performance Standards. These meetings will inform the public of the standards review process and gather public input to be shared with the Math Standards Review Committee for their consideration prior to their work.

A presentation will cover the design criteria, goals, objectives, definitions of the standards, and answer questions pertaining to the review process. Participants will be asked to respond to two questions:

  1. Why are Math Standards important for students, teachers, and parents?
  2. What do you want the Math Standards Review Committee to know as they start the review process?

Meetings will take place in Powell, Casper, Rock Springs, and Cheyenne from 6-8 p.m.

  • May 2, Powell High School, Library, 1150 East 7th Street, Powell
  • May 3, Natrona #1 Central Services Facility, Jefferson Room, 970 North Glenn Road, Casper
  • May 4, Rock Springs High School, Board Room, 3550 Foothill Boulevard, Rock Springs
  • May 9, Laramie #1 Administrative Building, Room #130, 2811 House Avenue, Cheyenne

Those unable to attend can respond to the same two questions online.

The WDE and State Board of Education are still taking public input on Wyoming’s current math standards for the review committee to consider as they begin the standards review process. Specific input on the standards can be given online through May.

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

Draft ESSA State Plan Released for Public Review

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) today announced the release of Wyoming’s draft Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Plan for a 45-day public comment period. The draft plan is available on the WDE’s website.

“This plan builds off of the strengths in Wyoming’s education system and our ongoing commitment to excellence. The goals for our schools are based on our state’s priorities instead of the federal government’s,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “From standards to accountability to best use of federal funds, ESSA places the responsibility to provide a well-rounded education to every student squarely on our shoulders. A public review of this plan by educators, parents, the employer community, and other citizens is essential. We need to make sure Wyoming kids are put first.”

Superintendent Balow lists the post-secondary readiness indicator and supports for schools and educators as highlights of the draft plan, “We want our students to be ready for their next step after high school, and we’re excited to begin looking at both college and career readiness measures for the first time as a state. We also know from our state accountability model that the way to help schools improve is to make sure they have the right kinds of support and that educators have what they need to do their jobs. Our ESSA state plan will allow us to apply this same strategy with federal funds. We are not here to punish schools and students, we are here to help them do better.”

During this public comment period, the Wyoming Department of Education will convene the Advisory Committee and work with the State Board of Education to convene the Professional Judgment Panel to refine the indicators that will meet the requirements for both accountability models to ensure Wyoming schools operate under a single, coherent system.

Comments can be submitted to the WDE through June 8, 2017 through an online survey, public meetings, or by mail. An online public meeting will take place on May 4 at 6:30 p.m. Anyone wishing to participate can register online. Additional public meetings are tentatively planned to take place on May 11 in Powell, May 18 in Riverton, and June 7 in Laramie.

Comments can be mailed to:

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

ESSA reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the principal federal law affecting K-12 education, and replaces No Child Left Behind.

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Wyoming’s Draft State Plan

Accountability FAQ

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

Public Input Sought on Math Standards

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) and State Board of Education are taking public input on Wyoming’s current math standards. The Math Standards Review Committee will consider this input as they begin the standards review process. Input can be given online through May or at regional community meetings.

The regional community meetings will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the following locations:

  • May 2: Powell High School Library, 1151 E. 7th Street, Powell, WY
  • May 3: Natrona #1 Central Services Facility, Jefferson East Room, 970 N. Glenn Road, Casper, WY
  • May 4: Rock Springs High School, Board Room, 3550 Foothill Blvd, Rock Springs, WY
  • May 9: Laramie #1 Administrative Building, Room #130, 2811 House Ave, Cheyenne, WY

Each community meeting will start with a 30-minute presentation on the standards review process, the review timeline, and answering questions before a 90-minute time slot dedicated to public comment. The public may come and go throughout or feel free to stay to hear the comments of others.

WDE personnel will present the input to the members of the Math Standards Review Committee before they meet this summer. The committee will review the 2012 Mathematics Standards and make a recommendation to the State Board of Education. Standards are reviewed at least once every nine years based on a timeline approved by the State Board.

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.

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

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