Category Archives: News Releases

News releases from the Wyoming Department of Education

Superintendent Balow Recognized with National Award

CHEYENNE – State Superintendent Jillian Balow was honored by the State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA) on Monday as the recipient of the SETDA State Policy Maker of the Year Award during their 2017 Leadership Summit: Leveraging Technology to Personalize Student Learning.

“Whether we are talking about education, jobs, or Wyoming’s economy-leadership, technology, innovation, and learning are at the heart of the conversation,” said Superintendent Balow. “What we expect students to know today impacts their future opportunities and the strength of our state.”

Superintendent Balow was recognized for chairing the Distance Education Task Force in 2015 which led to the passage of the Virtual Education Act in 2017 and established a K-20 common statewide learning management system which coordinates online course offerings for K-12 and post-secondary. Under Superintendent Balow’s leadership, Wyoming has signed the Future Ready pledge, celebrated its first ever Computer Science Education Week, worked on a Classroom Connectivity Initiative, established a K-20 statewide digital learning conference, and worked with the Legislature on increasing access to computer science.

Founded in 2001, SETDA is the principal non-profit membership association representing U.S. state and territorial educational technology leaders. Their mission is to build and increase the capacity of state and national leaders to improve education through technology policy and practice.

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

Sara Reed Named 2018 Wyoming Teacher of the Year

State Superintendent Jillian Balow stands with 2018 Teacher of the Year Sara Reed in front of a banner with reads, "Congratulations Sara Reed, 2017-2018 Wyoming Teacher of the Year, Campbell County School District #1, Gillette, WY"

CHEYENNE – Sara Reed, a kindergarten teacher at Hillcrest Elementary School in Campbell County School District #1, has been named Wyoming’s 2018 Teacher of the Year.

State Superintendent Jillian Balow says Mrs. Reed is the kind of teacher that every parent hopes is in their child’s classroom, “Mrs. Reed is a selfless teacher that puts her students first at every turn. She embraces the joys and challenges of teaching our youngest learners and understands that her impact reaches far beyond the classroom or a single school year.”

Mrs. Reed was raised in a family of educators in Gillette, and has taught at Hillcrest for 12 years. She is known for making every effort to get to know each student and their families so she can tailor her teaching to their needs. She also incorporates “movement with a purpose” into her classroom to help her students improve in their reading and writing, and have far fewer behavior problems.

Hillcrest Elementary School Principal Brad Winter says Mrs. Reed gives her students a great start to their educational career by ensuring that they have a positive experience in her classroom and is especially skilled at working with students with challenging behaviors: “She actually requests to have students with known behavioral challenges in her homeroom because she is confident in her ability to help them learn to manage their behaviors and have a positive experience in kindergarten.”

Mrs. Reed successfully developed the Kindergarten Mentor Program at Hillcrest, which pairs each kindergartener with a 6th grader at the beginning of the school year to ease the transition into school. Mrs. Reed matches students based on interest, gender, and culture, making sure ELL students have a 6th grader that can speak their home language to them. The buddies eat lunch together every day for the first month of school, and then the last Friday of every month. The kindergarten and 6th grade teachers work together to coordinate times for the buddies to do STEM projects, holiday projects, reading, writing letters, and educational games throughout the whole year. Principal Winter says the mentor program is one of the most positive and successful thing’s done at Hillcrest, and has helped ease the stress of starting kindergarten for many of the students and their families.

“Sara Reed is one of those outstanding individuals whose personal mission fits their professional mission,” says Campbell County School District #1 Superintendent Boyd Brown. “During her 12 years as a kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Reed has taken every student in her class and worked to meet their needs no matter what learning style they may have or other hardship they may be dealing with outside of school. She develops a personal relationship with each student and family and meets the learning needs of each student on a daily basis to create confident and successful students. Sara is a leader in her school, the district, and will be a great role model as the Wyoming State Teacher of the Year.”

As the 2018 Wyoming Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Reed will serve as an education ambassador for the state. Wyoming’s Teacher of the Year automatically becomes the nominee for the National Teacher of the Year Program, which is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers, sponsored by Voya Financial, Inc.

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

Call for Participants: Social Studies Standards Review Committee

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) is seeking state residents interested in serving on the Wyoming Social Studies Standards Review Committee. The committee will review the state social studies standards to ensure the cultural heritage, history, and contemporary contributions of American Indians are addressed. This work will be done in cooperation with tribes of the region, including the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Indian tribes. The committee will begin meeting this fall, with 3-5 days of webinars and meetings from October through January.

Anyone interested in serving on this committee should complete the Call for Participants Survey. The survey will close at 11:59 p.m. on October 1, 2017.

Completing this survey expresses interest in participating, but 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 email to confirm their participation.

In addition, the WDE is collecting feedback regarding possible revisions to the Wyoming Social Studies Content and Performance Standards addressing Native American history, culture, and contemporary contributions. The Social Studies Standards Review Committee will consider this input as they begin the standards review process. Input can be given online through the end of October.

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

ACT Results Available for the Class of 2017

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming graduating class of 2017 had an average composite score of 20.2 on the ACT according to The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2017, released today by ACT, Inc.

“The ACT is one of the measures that helps us see how well we are preparing our students for their future,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “We’re in the top half of states that give the ACT to all of their students, and now the work continues to improve student outcomes.”

2017 Benchmarks and Average Scores: Average ACT Scores for English were 19.4 in 2017, 19.2 in 2016 and 19.4 in 2015. Average ACT scores in Mathematics were 19.8 in 2017, 19.6 in 2016 and 19.9 in 2015. Average ACT Scores in Reading were 20.8 in 2017, 20.4 in 2016 and 20.4 in 2015. Average ACT Scores in Science were 20.6 in 2017, 20.0 in 2016 and 20.2 in 2015. The average composite ACT Scores were 20.2 in 2017, 20.0 in 2016 and 20.2 in 2015. In 2017, the percentage of students who met college readiness benchmarks were 58% in English, 34% in Mathematics, 42% in Reading, 34% in Science, and 21% meeting all four benchmarks. In 2016, benchmarks were met by 58% in English, 34% in Mathematics, 38% in Reading, 31% in Science, and 20% meeting all four benchmarks. In 2015, benchmarks were met by 60% of students in English, 36% in Mathematics, 40% in Reading, 34% in Science, and 22% in all four benchmarks.

Near Attainment of College and Career Readiness: Percent of 2017 ACT-tested high school graduates by ACT College Readiness Benchmark attainment and subject. In English, 30% of students were below the benchmark by 3 or more points, 12% were within 2 points of the benchmark and 58% met the benchmark. In Math, 44% of students were below the benchmark by 3 or more points, 13 percent were within 2 points of the benchmark and 42% met the benchmark. In reading, 57% percent of students were below the benchmark by 3 or more points, 9% of students were within 2 points of the benchmark, and 34% of students met the benchmark. In science, 50% of students were below the benchmark by 3 or more points, 16% were within 2 points of the benchmark, and 34% met the benchmark.

Wyoming state law requires all students to take the ACT as juniors. The results released today represent the most recent score for students that graduated in 2017. Beginning with the graduating class of 2013, all students whose scores are college reportable, both standard and extended time tests, are now included in the reports.

Wyoming is among 17 states that has results for 100 percent of graduating seniors.

A map of the US with the 2017 State Average Composite Score listed for all states who tested 100% of students with the ACT. State composite scores are listed in the following graph.

 

2017 State Average Composite ACT Score: Average Composite ACT Scores of States with 100% of graduates tested. Minnesota: 21.5, Colorado: 20.8, Wisconsin: 20.5, Missouri: 204, Montana: 20.3, Utah: 20.3, Wyoming: 20.2, Kentucky: 20.0, Tennessee: 19.8, Arkansas: 19.4, Louisiana: 19.4, Oklahoma: 19.4, Alabama: 19.2, North Carolina: 19.1, South Carolina: 18.7, Mississippi: 18.6, Nevada, 17.8

 

The Wyoming Readiness Report and ACT Profile Report can be found here.

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

2017 School Performance Ratings Released for Wyoming Schools

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) released school performance ratings today. The state accountability measure shows that the majority of Wyoming schools are Meeting or Exceeding Expectations, and the number of schools Not Meeting Expectations is dropping.

“Schools are starting to make the progress they have been asked to make,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “Especially when you look at our elementary and middle schools, they are focusing on growth and equity, and getting results. As we put our state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act into motion, and include post-secondary readiness for high schools, I hope to see even more progress.”

The 2016-17 School Performance Level Accountability table shows that in the 2016-17 school year, there was a grand total of 337 public schools in Wyoming. During that school year, 41 schools were rated at the level of Exceeding Expectations, 147 schools were rated as Meeting Expectations, 90 schools were rated as Partially Meeting Expectations, 35 schools were rated as Not Meeting Expectations, and 24 schools will undergo a Small School Review. In grades 3-8 there were a total of 268 schools. Of those schools, 40 schools were rated at the level of Exceeding Expectations, 112 schools were rated as Meeting Expectations, 68 schools were rated as Partially Meeting Expectations, 25 schools were rated as Not Meeting Expectations, and 23 schools will undergo a Small School Review. In grades 9-12 there were a total of 53 schools. Of those schools, 1 school was rated at the level of Exceeding Expectations, 30 schools were rated as Meeting Expectations, 12 schools were rated as Partially Meeting Expectations, 9 schools were rated as No Meeting Expectations, and 1 school will undergo a Small School Review. There were also 16 K-12 schools. Of those, no schools were rated at the level of Exceeding Expectations, 5 schools were rated as Meeting Expectations, 10 schools were rated as Partially Meeting Expectations, 1 school was rated as Not Meeting Expectations, and no schools will undergo a Small School Review.

This data does not include school performance ratings for alternative high schools. The alternative high school accountability model is in its final pilot year for the 2017-18 school year.

A graphic for Wyoming School Performance for Grades 3-8 shows that during the 2014-15 school year, 16.3% of those schools were Exceeding Expectations, 35.0% were Meeting Expectations, 33.5% were Partially Meeting Expectations, and 15.2% were Not Meeting Expectations. In the 2015-16 school year, 16.9% of those schools were Exceeding Expectations, 40.4% were Meeting Expectations, 29.6% were Partially Meeting Expectations, and 13.1% were Not Meeting Expectations. In the 2016-17 school year, 15.3% of those schools were Exceeding Expectations, 44.8% were Meeting Expectations, 29.9% were Partially Meeting Expectations, and 10.0% were Not Meeting Expectations.

A graphic for Wyoming School Performance for Grades 9-12 (Does not include data from alternative high schools) shows that during the 2014-15 school year, 9.0% of those schools were Exceeding Expectations, 50.7% were Meeting Expectations, 22.4% were Partially Meeting Expectations, and 17.9% were Not Meeting Expectations. In the 2015-16 school year, 7.2% of those schools were Exceeding Expectations, 60.9% were Meeting Expectations, 15.9% were Partially Meeting Expectations, and 15.9% were Not Meeting Expectations. In the 2016-17 school year, 1.5% of those schools were Exceeding Expectations, 51.5% were Meeting Expectations, 32.4% were Partially Meeting Expectations, and 14.7% were Not Meeting Expectations.

Thirteen Wyoming schools have exceeded expectations for three consecutive years, and will be recognized at the State Superintendent’s 2018 Policy Summit.

Seven schools raised their performance rating by two:

  • Burlington Middle School, Big Horn #1
  • Glenrock Middle School, Converse #2
  • Davis Elementary, Laramie #1
  • Desert Middle School, Sweetwater #1
  • Harrison Elementary, Sweetwater #2
  • Torrington High School, Goshen #1
  • Central High School, Laramie #1

Under the Wyoming Accountability in Education Act, schools serving grades 3-8 are rated on achievement, growth, and equity indicators. Indicators for high schools also include graduation rates, 9th grade credits earned, and Hathaway Scholarship eligibility.

As part of Wyoming’s transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), no federal accountability determinations were made for the 2016-17 school year. Starting in the 2017-18 school year, school performance will be published on a report card that includes information required by both state and federal law.

School Performance Ratings can be found here.

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

Wyoming’s ESSA State Plan Submitted to USED

State Superintendent State Superintendent Jillian Balow signs Wyoming's ESSA state plan on Thursday, August 17, 2017 at Laramie County Community College

State Superintendent Jillian Balow signs Wyoming’s ESSA state plan on Thursday, August 17, 2017 at Laramie County Community College.

CHEYENNE – Today State Superintendent Jillian Balow has submitted Wyoming’s consolidated state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to the U.S. Department of Education (USED).

ESSA reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replaces No Child Left Behind as the principal federal law affecting K-12 education. To meet the requirements of ESSA, the plan includes achievement and graduation rate goals for schools, measures for how well schools are doing, and priorities for the use of federal funds to support schools, students, and educators.

State Superintendent Jillian Balow says ESSA gives Wyoming education a call to action to examine its strengths and challenges, “With this plan we double down with how we create opportunities for students as they prepare for success in college, careers, workforce training, or military service. Our charge is clear: school needs to be relevant for all students, and we can do better than we did under No Child Left Behind. As we implement this plan, we will continue to rely on the people of Wyoming to weigh in on how we are doing.”

Extensive stakeholder input was gathered through listening sessions, town halls, public meetings, individual stakeholder meetings, and online feedback opportunities to ensure that the plan puts Wyoming’s priorities first. Stakeholder input directly impacted the alignment of the state plan to the Wyoming Accountability in Education Act, the post-secondary readiness indicator for high schools, how the statewide assessment will be utilized, how funds will be utilized to support and prepare teachers, and how funds will be used to offer a well-rounded education.

States are required to submit plans for meeting the requirements of ESSA by September 18, 2017in order to receive federal funds. USED will have 120 days to conduct a peer review, evaluate the plan and offer feedback. More information on Wyoming’s ESSA state plan is available at edu.wyoming.gov/essa.

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Audio from Superintendent Balow

Wyoming’s ESSA State Plan

ESSA in Wyoming Fact Sheet

Accountability FAQ

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

2017 Statewide High School Assessment Results Available

CHEYENNE – Results are now available online from the 2017 statewide high school assessments administered to students in grades 9 through 11. The results show similar performance to prior years with statistically insignificant increases in grades 9 and 10, and statistically insignificant decreases in grade 11.

“We have the privilege of offering the ACT to every student and will continue to do so as we add WY-TOPP to our assessment system,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. ”This is not the time to be complacent. At the state level we will continue to focus on every measure for student success and support schools helping students succeed in school and in life.”

In the spring of 2017, students in grades 11 took the ACT, and for the second year, students in grades 9 and 10 took the ACT Aspire online. Schools had the option to offer the ACT online this past spring, marking the first time that option was made available in Wyoming. The tests are intended to predict college readiness. These results will be used to determine school performance ratings.

9th Grade ACT Aspire Results. Two-Year comparison and benchmark. The Aspire has possible composite scores from 400-452.

10th Grade ACT Aspire Results. Two-Year comparison and benchmark. The Aspire has possible composite scores from 400-452.

The Wyoming Department of Education established new performance levels for the ACT in 2014 delineating Advanced, Proficient, Basic, and Below Basic performance in the subject area tests. Current results are not directly comparable to years prior to 2014 because they represent a much higher set of expectations for Wyoming students.

11th Grade ACT Results. 3-year comparison..

2016-17 11th grade performance levels. Data includes students who took the ACT and alternate assessments.

Starting in the 2017-18 school year, students will take the Wyoming Test of Proficiency and Progress (WY-TOPP). The new test will assess proficiency in reading and math for students in grades 3-10, science for students in grades 4, 8, and 10, and writing for students in grades 3, 5, 7, and 9. It will be an online, adaptive 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.

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

NEW CHIEF POLICY OFFICER JOINS WDE

CHEYENNE – State Superintendent Jillian Balow is pleased to announce the hiring of Megan Degenfelder as the new Chief Policy Officer at the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE). Megan previously worked in government affairs for Cloud Peak Energy in Gillette. Megan is a Casper native, former UW Student Body President, and was a classroom teacher in Beijing while she got her master’s in economics from the Beijing University of International Business and Economics.

Megan is exactly the kind of strategic thinking leader we need heading up our policy group at the WDE,” said Superintendent Balow. “Her experience in the classroom and the Wyoming legislature make her a great fit for where we are headed in Wyoming education. I also like the fact that she has deep roots in our state and is coming to WDE from the energy industry with a deep understanding of the fiscal challenges we face in education and as a state.”

WDE Chief of Staff Dicky Shanor added, “Because this position demands long hours and challenging issues, we really wanted to find someone with a solid policy background and a passion for education and Wyoming’s future-Megan fit this mold well. We are happy to have her on the team.”

Megan’s official start date was August 1. She is in charge of all legislative and other policy work including accountability, standards and assessment at the WDE.

“I am thrilled to take on this opportunity at the Department of Education. I look forward to working to overcome budgetary and other policy challenges facing our state in education, and hope to bring a fresh perspective to the team,” said Degenfelder.

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

2017 PAWS Results Available

CHEYENNE – Spring 2017 statewide testing results were released today by the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE). School, district, and state results are available on the WDE’s Fusion site. These include results for the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS) and alternate assessments in reading and mathematics for students in grades 3 through 8, and in science for grades 4 and 8.

Wyoming PAWS Results - All Students, All Grades by Subject, 3 Year Trend. In mathematics, the percent of students who were proficient or advanced was 48.9 in 2014-15, 52.0 in 2015-16, and 52.3 in 2016-17. In reading, the percentage of students who were proficient or advanced was 57.5 in 2014-15, 59.5 in 2015-16, and 58.8 in 2016-17. In Science, the percentage of students who were proficient or advanced was 46.7 in 2014-15, 48.3 in 2015-16, and 50.3 in 2016-17.

“Wyoming schools have demonstrated a solid foundation of learning that we need to build on and continue to improve,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “The growth that we saw in two of the three areas is a credit to a continued focus on high quality teaching and student learning. Now, each school will look carefully at this data to help set instructional goals for the upcoming year. I anticipate these goals will be ambitious with a continued focus on superb instruction and improved student outcomes.”

Notable increases in scores took place in eighth grade science, which had a 3.7 percent increase to 45.3 percent of students proficient or advanced, and fourth grade math, which had a 2.6 percent increase to 57.8 percent of students proficient or advanced.

For the first time, a breakdown of the performance of full-time virtual education students on PAWS is included in the results. They were added as an additional student group for reporting as part of the 2017 Virtual Education Act.

Starting in the 2017-18 school year, students will take the Wyoming Test of Proficiency and Progress (WY-TOPP). The new test will assess proficiency in reading and math for students in grades 3-10, science for students in grades 4, 8, and 10, and writing for students in grades 3, 5, 7, and 9. It will be an online, adaptive 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.

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

Community Input Meetings on American Indian Education

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education will conduct community input meetings on Wyoming’s Social Studies Content and Performance Standards as they pertain to Wyoming’s new “American Indian education program” legislation. These meetings will inform the public of the standards review process and gather public input to be shared with the Social Studies Standards Review Committee for their consideration prior to their work.

A presentation will discuss House Enrolled Act 119 and the process to ensure the cultural heritage, history, and contemporary contributions of American Indians are addressed in the review of the Social Studies Standards.

Participants will be asked to respond to two questions:

  • Why is it important for everyone to learn about American Indians?
  • What do you want the review committee to know about the cultural heritage, history, and contemporary contributions of American Indians as they review the Social Studies Standards?

The meetings will take place from 6-8 p.m.

  • June 12, Frank B. Wise Building, Main Conference Room, 3 Ethete Road, Fort Washakie
  • June 13, Central Wyoming College, Intertribal Education Center Room 116, 2660 Peck Avenue, Riverton
  • June 15, Park #6 Administration Office Board Room 2nd Floor, 919 Cody Avenue, Cody
  • June 22, Sheridan # 2 Administration Office Board Room, 201 North Connor Street, Sheridan
  • June 29, Laramie #1 Administration Office Board Room, 2810 House Avenue, Cheyenne

Those unable to attend can respond online through September 8, 2017.

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