Category Archives: News Releases

News releases from the Wyoming Department of Education

Balow Becomes First Wyoming Superintendent to Lead National Organization

CHEYENNE – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow assumed the presidency of the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) Board of Directors on Tuesday, during the organization’s annual policy forum in Atlanta.

Balow has served on the CCSSO Board of Directors since 2016. The organization, made up of state superintendents from around the U.S., is committed to ensuring that all students participating in the public education system – regardless of background – graduate prepared for college, careers, and life.

As president, Balow will frequently be asked to speak with federal policy makers about education issues. For her platform, Balow has selected “Beyond the Bell,” which seeks to better link high-quality after-school, summer, and early morning experiences to a well-rounded education.

“This is an exciting time to be in education and to serve as president of CCSSO,” Balow said. “My hope is to carry forward the CCSSO mission and emphasize what can be done beyond the bell to create the best conditions for learning for Wyoming’s students and inspire my colleagues to do the same for their states.”

In order to optimize beyond the bell time, Balow said, “Schools, parents, districts, and states need to create opportunities diverse enough to engage as many youth as possible. These opportunities are created by facilitating innovative collaborations in communities across the nation.”

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, the Bureau of Indian Education, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO’s Board of Directors manages the overall business affairs of the Council and is the governing body of the organization. The board is composed of the president, the president-elect, the past president, and six directors elected by CCSSO membership.

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Media contact:
Michelle Panos

WDE Seeks Public Input on Extended Math Standards and WY-TOPP Science Student Performance Level Indicators

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) seeks public input on the Proposed 2020 Wyoming Math Extended Standards and the Proposed WY-TOPP 2021+ Science Performance Level Descriptors (PLDs) that will be implemented in 2021. Standards and performance level descriptors for all subjects must be adopted by the Wyoming State Board of Education (SBE) on a periodic basis. Public input received for the Math Extended Standards and the Science PLDs will be considered by the SBE prior to making a decision to adopt at its January meeting.

The Proposed 2020 Math Extended Standards provide scaffolded instruction for students with cognitive disabilities. The WY-ALT assessment, which assesses students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, measures student performance on these standards. These standards are aligned, to and extended from, the 2018 Wyoming Math Standards.

The Proposed WY-TOPP 2021+ Science PLDs will be used to determine student performance level expectations of the 2016 Wyoming Science Standards on the science WY-TOPP test.

Public input is open through January 2, 2020. Input may be submitted online or mailed to:

Barb Marquer
Standards Supervisor
Wyoming Department of Education
122 W. 25th St., E200
Cheyenne, WY 82002

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Contact Michelle Panos, Communications Director, at or 307-777-2053.

WDE Offers Support for Teachers to Lead Digital Age Classrooms

CHEYENNE – One hundred Wyoming educators will have the opportunity to earn the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Certification for Educators with financial support from the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE). The certification is the only competency-based certification focused on digital-age teaching practices.

Today’s students are “digital natives,” but need skilled educators who can channel their use of technology for high impact learning. For success in their future, students need to be creators, not just consumers of technology, use digital tools to solve open-ended problems, work in design teams to address real-world issues, and communicate complex ideas that demonstrate their knowledge.

ISTE Certification for Educators training includes in-person workshops and online learning, followed by teachers applying what they have learned in the classroom. Teachers document their innovative classroom activities and submit the evidence of the activities in a portfolio as the final step to become certified. The certification process is rigorous, but Wyoming educators will be well-supported by the WDE.

The Professional Teaching Standards Board (PTSB) announced that educators who complete the ISTE Certification training are able to receive an Instructional Technology endorsement. Wyoming is leading the way as the second state in the nation to offer the endorsement after ISTE certification.

“I appreciate the collaborative efforts to recognize and create this exciting opportunity for Wyoming educators and our students,” said PTSB Executive Director Nish Goicolea.

The WDE also introduced Wyoming Digital Learning Guidelines for any educator who wants to learn more about integrating education technology to deepen student learning in their classroom. The guidelines are based on the ISTE Standards for Students. For educators interested in putting the guidelines into practical use in the classroom, the WDE will also offer a Wyoming Digital Learning Guidelines online course. The PTSB will offer .5 licensure renewal credits for educators completing the online course. Completion of the Wyoming Digital Learning Guidelines online course is a prerequisite to engaging in the ISTE certification training program. The guidelines are available digitally on the WDE website. Hard copies may be requested.

“With this financial and program support, we hope to empower Wyoming educators to embrace new trends in digital-age learning,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Anytime we can support our educators in professional development and professional growth is a win for our students as well.”

ISTE developed the ISTE Standards for Students for use all over the world. These standards include “Empowered Learner,” that build student self-direction, “Computational Thinker,” and “Innovative Designer” that establish powerful problem solving skills.

“This is an exciting opportunity for educators in Wyoming,” said Carolyn Sykora, senior director ISTE Standards Program. “ISTE is proud to be working with Wyoming and we are so pleased to see the level of commitment to these educators. Wyoming is leading the country by providing support for teachers who are looking to take technology to the next level in their classrooms.”

For more information about the ISTE Certification for the Wyoming educators visit here.

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Media contact:

Michelle Panos


2019 NAEP Scores Show Wyoming Students Benefit from Equitable Funding

CHEYENNE – Several student groups continue to outperform their peers’ test scores around the country, which helped keep Wyoming above national public school averages on the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card or NAEP.

Scores are intended to show where Wyoming compares to other states. Unlike the statewide assessment WY-TOPP, 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 in four reporting areas: grades four and eight in reading and math.

The student groups outperforming peers in other states include students in town and rural schools (above national averages in all four reporting areas) and city school students (surpassing their national peers in math for both grades and grade four reading). Students eligible for the National School Lunch Program (above national averages in all four reporting areas) and Hispanic students (surpassing their national peers in math for both grades and grade four reading) also performed well. Finally, Special Education students (above their peers nationally in grade four reading and math) and English Language Learners (surpassing their peers in grade four math) made positive contributions to Wyoming’s 2019 NAEP results.

2019 Wyoming NEAP 4th Grade Math Scores Graph2019 Wyoming NAEP 8th Grade Math Scores Graph2019 Wyoming NAEP 4th Grade Reading Scores Graph2019 Wyoming NAEP 8th Grade Reading Scores Graph

Funding Peer States

Wyoming was one of 11 states in 2019 with annual funding of $15,000 per student or more, according to federal cost figures available from the U.S. Department of Education. The peer states include Alaska, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Comparing Wyoming with the peer funding states using NAEP’s Basic or Above achievement level metric renders 40 comparisons (i.e., 10 peer states across the four reporting areas in both grades and subjects). The percentage of Wyoming students in 2019 was higher than its peers in 23 of these comparisons, statistically even with 16 others, and was surpassed in only one case out of 40 – by Massachusetts, in grade eight reading.

2019 Peer Funding States Comparison Chart

Detailed 2019 Peer Funding State Comparison data can be found on the NAEP website at the following links: Grade 4 ReadingGrade 8 ReadingGrade 4 MathGrade 8 Math.

“When you dig into the current and past NAEP data, hard work by students and educators is paying off for groups which are considered challenged or at risk in comparison to other states. Wyoming is taking full advantage of the opportunities afforded by our state’s funding model,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Equitable funding is an important factor in Wyoming’s educational success story. Going forward, I am concerned that the cap placed on Special Education funding in Wyoming will negatively affect NAEP data.”

Neighboring States

In 2019, Wyoming continued to perform well in comparisons with its six bordering states in NAEP metrics: average scale scores and the percentage of students performing at or above NAEP’s Basic achievement level. Wyoming’s average scale scores were above adjacent states’ for eight of 12 comparisons in grade four reading and math. Wyoming was unsurpassed by any adjacent state in the 24 comparisons at NAEP’s Basic achievement level (i.e., across the six states and four reporting areas – both grades four and eight and both subjects) and outperformed all neighboring states in fourth grade math.

2019 Border States Comparison Chart

Detailed 2019 Peer Border States Comparison data can be found on the NAEP website at the following links: Grade 4 ReadingGrade 8 ReadingGrade 4 MathGrade 8 Math.

National Average

Scores for both reading and math in both grade levels were lower nationally, Wyoming students continue to score above the national average over the last eight years.

“Wyoming schools have a renewed focus on high quality K-3 literacy instruction, interventions, and curriculum. I anticipate this will positively impact scores in coming years.” Superintendent Balow said.

2019 Wyoming NAEP 4th Grade Math Scores Graph2019 Wyoming NAEP 8th Grade Math Scores Graph2019 Wyoming NAEP 4th Grade Reading Scores Graph2019 Wyoming NAEP 8th Grade Reading Scores Graph

NAEP testing is administered every two years in reading and mathematics to Wyoming’s fourth and eighth grade students, in a digital format. All 50 states participate in the assessment, as well as the District of Columbia and Department of Defense 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.

More details on Wyoming’s 2019 NAEP results can be found on the WDE website or at the following links:

Reading Report

Fourth Grade Reading

Eighth Grade Reading

 Mathematics Report

Fourth Grade Mathematics

Eighth Grade Mathematics


The WDE Seeks Public Comment on Amended Chapter 29 Rules Leader and Teacher Evaluations Systems

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) seeks public comment on revised Chapter 29 Rules: Evaluation Systems for District and School Leaders and Teachers. The rules are being revised following passage of HEA0061 during the 2019 legislative session, which requires the implementation and administration of a comprehensive teacher evaluation system. The new statutes went into effect on July 1, 2019. Since going into effect, the WDE has engaged stakeholders from across the state to develop draft rule changes.

The rules will establish general criteria for school district teacher performance evaluation systems that provide school districts flexibility in designing teacher evaluations to improve classroom instruction. Under the proposed rules, the SBE will approve evaluation systems for leaders in the school district, and teachers who provide direct instruction to students. Approval of evaluation systems for other certified personnel, including nurses or instructional facilitators, will no longer be required. More information can be found in the Statement of Reasons.

At the September 20 meeting in Laramie, the SBE voted to withdraw proposed Chapter 29 rules and promulgate amended rules adding language that clarifies that school districts’ locally designed leader evaluation system must align to a majority of the benchmarks within professional Standard One of the state-defined system. The standard encompasses clear and consistent focus on maximizing the learning and growth of all students.

The public comment period for Chapter 29 rules will close at 11:59 p.m. on December 6, 2019. Comments may be submitted online or mailed to:

Laurel Ballard
Supervisor – Student/Teacher Resource Team
Wyoming Department of Education
122 W. 25th St. Suite E200
Cheyenne, WY 82002

All public comments will be recorded verbatim, including the submitter’s name and city of residence, on the Secretary of State website as part of the rules promulgation process. When commenting, specify which section of the rule the comment concerns.

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Media contact:

Michelle Panos, Communications Director


Four Wyoming Teachers Receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

CHEYENNE – Four Wyoming teachers – Necole Hanks, Amy Kassel, Helen Ommen, and Jim Stith – have received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). President Donald J. Trump made the announcement of the 2017/2018 winners on Tuesday.

PAEMST is the highest recognition that K-12 mathematics, science, or computer science teachers can receive in the U.S. Nominations and awards are facilitated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation.

Hanks teaches sixth-grade science at Powell Middle School, Kassel is the secondary mathematics curriculum coordinator and instructional facilitator with Laramie County School District #1 in Cheyenne, Ommen teaches gifted and talented students at Spring Creek Elementary School in Laramie, and Stith teaches environmental science at Newcastle High School.

“These four teachers are an inspiration to students and colleagues. They are true leaders,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “I am so very proud of Necole, Amy, Helen and Jim for their dedication to math and science education, and for their commitment to the students of Wyoming.”

A panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists, and educators at the state and national level assess the applications before recommending nominees to OSTP. Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Enacted by Congress in 1983, the program authorizes the President to award 108 math and science teachers each year in recognition of their contribution to excellent teaching and learning.

“I truly feel honored to receive an award of this magnitude,” Hanks said. “I am blessed to share my passion for teaching science to future world changers and even more fortunate to improve my practice each day.”

“I am eager to have the opportunity to build partnerships with like-minded colleagues for the benefit of students,” Ommen said. “This award will be a powerful tool for more innovation and learning.”

“Mathematics education is my passion,” said Kassel, who taught 7-12 grade mathematics at East High School in Cheyenne at the time of her 2017 nomination. “I am excited to be part of this community of teacher-leaders, with an opportunity to impact mathematics education in my district, and our state and nation.”

“It is an honor not only for myself, but also for the coworkers, mentors, and administrators who gave me the opportunity to advance my teaching abilities,” Stith said. “My love for science and knowledge was inspired by Sharla Dowding, a high school science teacher, and I strive to pass that passion on to my students.”

The awardees come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, and schools in four U.S. territories. Each recipient receives a certificate signed by the President; a trip to Washington D.C. to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities; and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

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Media contact:

Michelle Panos, Communications Director


WDE Receives Federal Grant to Strengthen Computer Science Education

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) is one of nine entities across the country to be awarded federal grant money for Career and Technical Education (CTE); the WDE will receive $489,714 over the next three years to strengthen Computer Science education across the state.

The WDE will use the Innovation & Modernization Grant, a Perkins V program, to implement its Boot Up Wyoming initiative to bring Computer Science and computational thinking to every Wyoming classroom by 2022. To do that, the WDE will create Computer Science micro-credentials for teachers to improve instruction in the field. Additionally, the WDE will revise the micro-credentials to create a way for students to earn both high school credit and industry certification.

“This grant boosts our ability to ensure that Wyoming graduates are ready for college, a career, or military service,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Computer Science education is relevant and imperative for every student. Wyoming is at the forefront of making sure the next generation is well-prepared for jobs that are ever-changing because of technology, and for jobs that don’t yet exist – but they will.”

Of the 64 eligible grant proposals reviewed for this competition, only nine were funded. The WDE’s proposal received one of the highest rankings from panels made up of reviewers with expertise in CTE and STEM education. The WDE will use the grant to help serve school districts in rural communities, and has already formed partnerships to make sure these under-served areas develop Computer Science curriculum.

Project partners include:

  • Carbon County School District #1
  • Fremont County School District #14
  • Uinta County School District #1
  • University of Wyoming
  • Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board
  • Wyoming Workforce Development Council
  • Computer Science Teachers Association, Wyoming Chapter
  • American Institutes for Research

“We know that access to high-quality Career and Technical Education options can open up new pathways to success for students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in announcing the grant recipients. “It’s gratifying to see each of these grantees rethinking education and modernizing workforce training in their communities to ensure students have the skills they need for in-demand, high-paying jobs.”

The funds will assist districts that serve students in Qualified Opportunity Zones. These zones are designed to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities throughout the country by providing tax benefits to investors who invest eligible capital into these communities.


Media contact:

Michelle Panos, Communications Director


Dane Weaver Named Wyoming’s 2020 Teacher of the Year

2020 Wyoming Teacher of the Year Dane Weaver

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow congratulates 2020 Wyoming Teacher of the Year, Dane Weaver.

CHEYENNE – Dane Weaver, a grade 7-12 social studies teacher at Ten Sleep K-12 School in Washakie County School District #2, has been named Wyoming’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, during the Superintendent’s Policy Summit in Laramie Wednesday.

“Dane has a special gift for teaching and leading,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “He teaches for the future – getting students ready for what’s to come, and he knows that relationships and connecting with students are as important as teaching technical skills. Dane’s charisma is infectious – I am so excited that he will represent rural education, Wyoming, and the teaching profession as our 2020 Teacher of the Year.”

Weaver is also the assistant high school football coach, high school student council advisor, and serves on the Building Intervention Team. He has taught in Ten Sleep the past three years. Weaver is a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee, earning a Bachelor’s of Art degree, then earning his Master’s in Educational Leadership from Carson Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee.

Weaver grew up in a service-based household. His mother, who was the first female agriculture teacher in Tennessee, believed in inspiring others through education.

Weaver said he believes students should not only be educated, but inspired to be life-long learners. His classroom is full of energy, with students driving the content towards a higher level of understanding. Weaver pushes students to investigate the content with a curious mind, breaking away from the drudgery of the traditional “sage of the stage” style education.

“Mr. Weaver is always willing to help a student who is struggling,” said Ten Sleep eighth-grader Kinley Anderson. “If I need any help in his class and it is a weekend or school is already out for the day, I can usually contact Mr. Weaver through Google Classroom and within a few minutes, I can have assistance with whatever I need help with. He is at school early and stays late, so students can come in at almost any time and receive help. In school, Mr. Weaver interacts with the students in an easy going way and he is always around to crack a joke or ask you how your day is going, but he still remains professional.”

“Mr. Weaver comes to work with enthusiasm and good humor every day,” said Ten Sleep science teacher Brian Titus. “His content knowledge is exceptional and his ability to connect with each student is a daily reminder to us all that we can make a significant difference through our relationships and that those relationships are the doorway to learning.”

“Let us come together and embrace change, let us revel in being different for the sake of our students,” Weaver said. He added that classrooms in Wyoming should be built to fit student needs. Classrooms need to be full of peer to peer collaboration. Classrooms should be enjoyable to our students, they should be welcoming, and built with rigor in mind. We need to be willing to change in a minute’s notice to better educate our students. Lessons that worked five years ago might be as relatable as an abacus to a kindergartner.

The Wyoming Teacher of the Year comes with the significant responsibility of representing the teaching profession in Wyoming. The Wyoming Teacher of the Year acts as liaison among the teaching community, Wyoming Legislature, Wyoming Department of Education, districts and communities. In addition, the Teacher of the Year is an education ambassador to businesses, parents, service organizations, and media, as well an education leader involved in teacher forums and education reform.

Along with the 2020 Wyoming Teacher of the Year, the Wyoming Department of Education also announced a new program called Level Up. The program will include all District Teachers of the Year and their principals, with the goal of elevating Wyoming’s education professionals by providing leadership development, continuous learning, building relationships, and increasing advocacy for the teacher profession.

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Photo of 2020 Wyoming Teacher of the Year

Media contact:
Michelle Panos, Communications Director


2018-19 School Performance Ratings Released for Wyoming Schools

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) has released school accountability results for the 2018-19 school year. Full results are available online.

“The results show improvement from 2017-18 to 2018-19 with more schools exceeding expectations and fewer schools partially or not meeting expectations,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Deliberate state and local supports are proving effective in helping schools improve student outcomes.”

This is the second year that schools have operated under a new comprehensive accountability system that reflects requirements from both state and federal accountability systems. School performance is evaluated  based on a combination of student performance indicators. Chief among those indicators is student performance on the state assessment, WY-TOPP.

Under state law, all Wyoming elementary, middle, and traditional high schools receive one of four School Performance Ratings (SPR): Exceeding Expectations, Meeting Expectations, Partially Meeting Expectations, or Not Meeting Expectations. For the first time, alternative schools also received a rating this year based on their performance on a different scoring model. The 2018-19 SPRs show that 56.1% of Wyoming traditional schools are Meeting or Exceeding Expectations and 70.6% of Wyoming alternative schools are Meeting or Exceeding Alternative School Expectations.






Under federal law, schools in need of support are identified. There are three types of support:

  • Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) is for Title I schools performing among the lowest in the state and any school with a graduation rate below 67 percent.
  • Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) is for any school that has a specific group of students that is not performing well.
  • Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (ATSI) is for schools that have a specific group of students that is chronically not performing well.

There are currently 20 schools designated as CSI, 42 schools designated as TSI, and one school designated as ATSI.

“State and federal requirements, working together, give us a comprehensive and transparent view of education in Wyoming,” Balow said. “These results give us a picture of which schools are performing well – and which need assistance and support, so we can better serve our students. At the state level we lead efforts to assist our lowest performing schools. The real work takes place when school leaders provide interventions to struggling students and improve school culture.”

The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) will host a media call-in at 1 p.m. on Monday, September 16 to discuss the 2018-19 school performance ratings. To join the call-in, visit, or dial 888-670-9530 or 307-438-9905, or join us in person in Room 227 of the Herschler East Building, 122 W. 25th St. E200 in Cheyenne.  


Accountability FAQ

Media contact:

Michelle Panos, Communications Director


REVISED: WDE Seeks Public Comment on Perkins V Performance Assessment Targets

This news release was revised to include updated postsecondary targets (highlighted in yellow), indicator definitions, and an extended public comment period closing date.

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) is taking public comment on proposed performance assessment targets for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). Perkins V (five) provides federal funding for secondary and postsecondary career and technical education in Wyoming. The 2019-20 federal award to Wyoming is $5,037,372.

In order to receive these funds, Wyoming must submit a plan for Wyoming Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the next four years, which includes these statewide performance assessment targets. The Perkins V State Advisory Council of stakeholders was formed to propose guidelines and performance assessment targets for school districts and community colleges receiving Perkins funds in order to provide student learners with high quality educational and work-based learning opportunities.

The federally-required indicators below refer to measurements that WDE will use annually to evaluate whether CTE goals have been met statewide. Definitions for these indicators can be found in the Perkins V Indicator Definitions document.


The public comment period on the proposed targets is extended until November 8, 2019. Comments can be submitted online or mailed to:

Wyoming Department of Education
Attn: Dr. Michelle Aldrich
122 West 25th Street, Suite E200
Cheyenne, WY 82002

Please specify which target you are commenting upon by referencing its indicator number.

Perkins V was signed into law in July of 2018. Wyoming’s one-year transition plan was approved in July of 2019. States must submit their full plan for Perkins V by April 15, 2020. More information on Wyoming CTE and Perkins V is available here.


Media contact:

Michelle Panos, Communications Director