Tag Archives: Assessment

2015 Wyoming NAEP Science Scores Released

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) today announced the state’s science results on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card. Overall, Wyoming’s fourth and eighth-grade students in 2015 continue to outperform national average test scores in science.

“Overall results are favorable for Wyoming and that is a credit to our schools, students, and communities,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “As we look toward the implementation of new science standards, we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to make more progress and close achievement gaps.”


Wyoming’s average science scores have increased in 2015 for both grades four and eight since 2009. Wyoming’s average scores in eighth grade science, however, were unchanged in 2015 from results posted during 2011.


To compare Wyoming with other states in 2015, two states performed higher in fourth grade science, 35 performed lower, and nine were not reliably different. In eighth grade science, four states performed higher, 29 performed lower, and 13 were not reliably different from Wyoming.

NAEP provides an external reference or point-of-comparison to audit, review, and compare each state’s educational program. Additionally, it provides a stable trend line for tracking student achievement.

Results increased nation-wide in both fourth and eighth grades between 2009 and 2015. National results for 12th grade, however, were statistically flat or unchanged for the same six-year period. Wyoming has surpassed national NAEP science results for each testing cycle since introduction of the new assessment frameworks in 2009.

NAEP testing is administered every two years in reading and mathematics to Wyoming’s fourth and eighth grade students. Typically, NAEP science is assessed once every fourth year. All fifty states, plus the District of Columbia and Department of Defense (DoD) schools, participate in the reading and mathematics assessments. It is administered to a statistical sampling of Wyoming students and does not render test results for individual students or their schools. NAEP data therefore represents a sampling of Wyoming students and their responses.

International testing results from 2015 for U.S. schools in science and mathematics, as measured by TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) and PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), are scheduled for public release in late-November and early December respectively. Additionally a report to be released in 2017 will statistically link Wyoming’s 2015 NAEP results in mathematics and science for grades four and eight to the TIMSS reporting scale, thus allowing valid comparisons of Wyoming students’ performance with their peers globally.

For more details on Wyoming’s 2015 NAEP science results, go to edu.wyoming.gov/educators/assessment/naep/ and click the “2015 NAEP” button, or click on the links below:

Science Report

Fourth Grade Science

Eighth Grade Science


Media Contact:
Kari Eakins, Communications Director

Back to School

Dear Superintendents,

Last week’s update included a link and memo with a back-to-school kit. We have received positive feedback from superintendents, principals, legislators, and others—we are grateful that it’s informative and useful.  Here is a link to the Snapshot.

It was an honor to help open the new school year at Carbon #1 with Superintendent Turcato.  I am looking forward to, once again, visiting you in your communities throughout the school year.

You may notice new WDE staff members included on emails, delivering customer service, and visiting your schools.  What a great team we are building!  Among the new leaders at WDE are Shelley Hamel, the new School Support Division Director (replacing Rob Bryant) and Anne-Marie Williams, the new Individual Learning Division Director (replacing Chief Policy Officer Lisa Weigel).  Yesterday, we welcomed a new staff members with a special breakfast reception and orientation.

Superintendent Balow speaking from a podium on stage at the Rawlins High School auditorium.
Welcoming Carbon #1 Staff back to school
Superintendent Balow visits with employees in a conference room while they all enjoy coffee.
Coffee and donuts with new and seasoned WDE staff



The national Class of 2016 ACT results were released this week placing Wyoming 11th among 18 states that administer the ACT to all juniors. I’ll reiterate that this is one measure, an important one albeit. I urge school districts to analyze local ACT scores and consider how to adjust practices to better align scores to student success.  Here is a link to an article that appeared in today’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle. 


Yesterday, Wyoming broke ground on construction of the Capitol Square Project.  The Project enters this new phase after months of abatement and demolition. The Project also includes renovation of the Herschler Building.  For the first time in recent history, the office of the State Superintendent will be located in the Capitol along with the other statewide elected officials (Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor, and Treasurer).  The offices of WDE staff will be in a new wing of the Herschler Building.  Completion of the Capitol is slated for early 2019.  In the meantime, please encourage teachers and classes to continue to visit the Capitol City. Here is a brochure and summary of the renovation–teachers may be interested in reviewing it with students before visiting. The State Museum’s display about the Capitol is among many fabulous exhibits.  Also, the Wyoming Supreme Court is completing a major project called the Wyoming Judicial Learning Center (in addition to icivics and You Be the Judge).  The Center is set to open in early 2017 but students get a “sneak peek” when they visit.

Superintendent Balow with Governor Matt Mead, members of the Capitol Building Oversight Group, and Wendy Madsen from the Legislative Services Office all stand in front of the State Capitol with shovels digging into a pile of dirt for the groundbreaking ceremony.
Breaking Ground on Capitol Square Project-Construction Phase
Superintendent Balow smiles while standing near the new display about the Wyoming State Capitol at the State Museum featuring old photographs, maps, a gavel, state seal stamper and other artifacts with descriptions.
State Museum Display about the Wyoming State Capitol

I look forward to seeing many of you at the upcoming WASA meeting!  Have a wonderful weekend.

Memo to be released Monday, August 29:


Class of 2016 ACT Results Available

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming graduating class of 2016 had an average composite score of 20.0 on the ACT according to The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2016, released today by ACT, Inc.

“Just as we see and celebrate Wyoming students’ growth on the ACT and other statewide assessments, our placement among states reminds us that we aren’t there yet,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “At this time, it’s important to remember this is one important measure among many, and is an opportunity for schools across our state to make adjustments that help ensure that more students are successful on the ACT.”2016 ACT Benchmarks and Average Scores show the the average ACT Scores in English were 19.2 for the Class of 2016, 29.5 for the Class of 2015, and 19.3 for the Class of 2014; the average Mathematics score was 19.6 for the Class of 2016, and 19.9 for both the Class of 2015 and 2014; the average score in reading was 20.4 for the Class of 2016, and 20.6 for both the Class of 2015 and 2014; the average score in Science was 20.4 for both the Class of 2016 and 2015, and 20.2 for the Class of 2014; and the average Composite score was 20.0 for the Class of 2016, 20.2 for the Class of 2015, and 20.1 for the class of 2014. The percent of students who met college readiness benchmarks in English was 58 for the class of 2016, 60 for the class of 2015, and 59 for the class of 2014; in Mathematics it was 33 for the class of 2016, 36 for the class of 2015, and 34 for the class of 2014; in Reading it was 38 for the class of 2016, and 40 for both the class of 2015 and 2014; in Science it was 31 for the class of 2016, 34 for the class of 2015, and 31 for the class of 2014; the percent of students who met all four benchmarks was 20 for the class of 2016, 22 for the class of 2015, and 20 for the class of 2014.

Near Attainment of College and Career Readiness: A graph displaying the percent of 2016 ACT-tested high school graduates by ACT College Readiness Benchmark attainment and subject. In English 58% met the benchmark, 11% were within two points of the benchmark, and 31% were below the benchmark by three or more points. In math, 38% met the benchmark, 13% were within two points, and 48% were below by three or more points. In reading, 33% met the benchmark, 8% were within two points, and 58% were below by three or more points. In science, 31% met the benchmark, 18% were within two points, and 51% were below by three or more points.

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 2016. 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 18 states that has results for 100 percent of graduating seniors.

A map of the United States displays the 18 states in which 100% of the graduating seniors take the ACT.

2016 State Average Composite ACT Score (for the 18 states in which 100% of the graduating students take the ACT) in order from highest to lowest average composite score: Minnesota 21.1, Illimois 20.8, Colorado 20.6, Wisconsin 20.5, Michigan 20.3, Montana 203, North Dakota 20.3, Missouri 20.2, Utah 20.2, Kentucky 20.2, Wyoming 20.0, Tennessee 19.9, Louisiana 19.5, Alabama 19.1, North Carolina 19.1, South Carolina 18.5, Mississippi 18.4, Nevada 17.7.

The Wyoming Readiness Report and ACT Profile Report can be found at: http://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/CCCR_National_2016.pdf.

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Media Contact:
Kari Eakins, Communications Director

Coders of the West

Dear Superintendents,

We are excited to report a successful Coders of the West pilot that connects K-16 students with industry in a project-based computer coding “camp.” I had the opportunity to speak to the aspiring coders and one student asked the all important question, “Why did you choose coding as an education initiative?” My response was along this line:

The ability to code is a skill that indicates a student is literate in what is “behind the curtain” on our computers and smart phones. It’s a skill that is becoming more sought after by higher education, business, and industry. As Wyoming looks for ways to diversify its economy, we need look no further than our future; our students. When we equip students with skills for tomorrow’s world, like coding, diversification is organic. The work to grow technology as a viable economic sector in our state is underway with facilities and upstarts like NCAR, Microsoft, Greenhouse Data, Gannett Peak, Ptolemy, and others. Coding for all students and intensive pathways of advanced coding for some students is the goal and Coders of the West helps build the momentum around this initiative.

Coders continues this week and ten students have elected to be mentored by industry partners throughout the school year.

Students in a computer lab working on their coding skills.
Coders of the West in Sheridan

The WDE recently released the 2017 Wyoming Digital Learning Plan for public comment at http://edu.wyoming.gov/tech. The plan is designed to support districts in providing equitable education opportunities for students through the use of digital learning knowing that quality of digital learning as well as access are challenges we all face. The Plan is a culmination of input received from a statewide listening tour, digital learning readiness surveys, and focus groups. On area emphasized in the report is the need for professional development. The final plan will be released on October 1, 2016.

Additional Updates:

ACT scores will be released Monday, August 15, 2016.  Here is a link to the media announcement. Thank you to school districts and the WDE Assessment Team for successfully transitioning to the ACT Aspire test which was administered almost exclusively online in 2016.

Finally, the next ESSA virtual town hall meeting, on federal funding, will take place on Tuesday, August 16, 2016. Please take a time to review and share ESSA information posted on the WDE website at https://edu.wyoming.gov/educators/accountability/federal-school-accountability/  .

Memos to be released Monday, August 15:


2016 Statewide High School Assessment Results

CHEYENNE – Results are now available online from the 2016 statewide high school assessments administered to students in grades 9 through 11. Eleventh grade students showed improvement in every subject tested, while 9th and 10th grade students exceeded the benchmark in English, indicating a high probability of success in first year college courses.

Consistent with Wyoming statutes, and to support calculations for Wyoming’s school accountability system, 9th and 10th grade students take the ACT Aspire, and 11th grade students take the ACT. The tests are intended to predict college readiness. This spring marked the first year that the ACT Aspire was administered, making statewide assessment results from prior years incomparable for grades 9 and 10.

“We’re very proud of the work done by WDE and school staff to successfully administer Aspire,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “The shift to an online test is no small feat and took cooperation from all parties involved. Thanks to their hard work we now have a good baseline to work from.”

The 2015-16 ACT Aspire results show that 9th grade students achieved and average score of 427.58 in English (benchmark 426), 425.19 in Math (benchmark 428), 422.12 in Reading (benchmark 425), 425.22 in Science (benchmark 420), and had an average composite score of 425.14. Tenth grade students achieved an average score of 430.55 in English (benchmark 428), 426.71 in Math (benchmark 432), 423.64 in Reading (benchmark 428), 427.23 in Science (benchmark 432), and had an average composite score of 427.18.

A three-year comparison of 11th grade ACT results show and average score in English: of 19.0 in 2014, 18.8 in 2015, and 19.1 in 2016; in Math: 19.7 in 2014, 19.5 in 2015, and 19.7 in 2016; in Reading: 20.3 in 2014, 20.2 in 2015, and 20.4 in 2016; in Science: 20.1 in 2014, 20.2 in 2015, and 20.4 in 2016; and the average composite was: 19.9 in 2014, 29.8 in 2015, and 20.0 in 2016.

The WDE 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.

The 2015-16 ACT Performance Levels (which include data for students who took alternate assessments) are as follows: In Reading 13.6% were advanced in 2015 and 15.7% in 2016, 18.1% were proficient in 2015 and 20.5% in 2016, 36.3% were Basic in 2015 and 33.3% in 2016, and 31.9% were Below Basic in 2015 and 30.4% in 2016; In Math 10.1% were Advanced in 2015 and 9.9% in 2016, 28% were Proficient in 2015 and 29.8% in 2016, 42.3% were Basic in 2015 and 43.6% in 2016, and 19.5% were Below Basic in 2015 and 16.7% in 2016; In Science 5.5% were Advanced in 2015 and 4.4% in 2016, 25.7% were Proficient in 2015 and 28.8% in 2016, 39.9% were Basic in 2015 and 39% in 2016, and 28.9% were Below Basic in 2015 and 27.8% in 2016.

These results will be used to determine school performance ratings, which will be released in September.

The WDE will publish ACT results for the graduating class of 2016 along with the ACT annual report, The Condition of College & Career Readiness, scheduled for August 24, 2016.

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Media Contact:
Kari Eakins, Communications Director

2016 PAWS Results Available

CHEYENNE – Spring 2016 statewide testing results released today by the Wyoming Department of Education indicated proficiency rates increased across most grade levels and content areas when compared to results achieved in 2015.

“These positive strides are the result of some great work from our schools, teachers, parents, and students,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “We’ve seen high commitment to not only align curriculum with standards, but to go above and beyond where possible. Based on the efforts we’ve seen from school districts to learn from each other and take advantage of the system of support, it’s obvious that our kids come first in Wyoming.”

School, district, and state results are available on the WDE’s Fusion site. They 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.

The percent of students who were proficient or advanced in reading in 2014 was 62% is grade 3, 64% in grade 4, 58% in grade 5, 57% in grade 6, 59% in grade 7, and 58% in grade 8. In 2015 it was 61% in grade 3, 60% in grade 4, 59% in grade 5, 57% in grade 6, 57% in grade 7, and 52% in grade 8. In 2016 it was 58% in grade 3, 65% in grade 4, 61% in grade 5, 58% in grade 6, 60% in grade 7, and 54% in grade 8.

The percentage of students who are proficient or advanced in mathematics in 2014 is 51% in grade 3, 47% in grade 4, 54% in grade 5, 49% in grade 6, 43% in grade 7, and 50% in grade 8. In 2015, it was 49% in grade 3, 51% in grade 4, 53% in grade 5, 49% in grade 6, 42% in grade 7, and 47% in grade 8. In 2016, it is 53% in grade 3, 55% in grade 4, 56% in grade 5, 50% in grade 6, 49% in grade 7, and 48% in grade 8.

The percentage of students who are proficient or advanced in science in 2011 is 55% in grade 4 and 51% in grade 8; for 2012 it is 63% in grade 4 and 51% in grade 8; for 2013 it is 58% in grade 4 and 44% in grade 8; for 2014 it is 53% in grade 4 and 47% in grade 8; for 2015 it is 51% in grade 4 and 42% in grade 8; and for 2016 it is 54% in grade 4 and 42% in grade 8.

The biggest increase in scores took place in seventh grade math, which had a 6.0 percent increase to 49.4 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced. Other increases were seen in fourth grade reading with 65.4 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced, fifth grade math with 56.3 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced.

Balow added: “We can also see in these results that there is work to be done to close achievement gaps for English language learners, students with disabilities, students on free/reduced price lunch, and homeless students. Implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act gives us a really good opportunity to ensure the right resources are getting to those who need them, so that we can create opportunities for every student to keep Wyoming strong.”

At-Risk Student Result Comparisons

Major shifts were made in reading and math content with the 2014 PAWS, making direct comparisons to prior years invalid. Science content standards have not changed, so there have been no changes to the PAWS science test.

The data produced from PAWS results will be used with data from ACT and Aspire results for accountability determinations. ACT and Aspire results will be released in August and school performance ratings will be released early this fall.

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Media Contact:
Kari Eakins, Communications Director

1st Virtual Town Hall Meeting

Dear Superintendents,

Good afternoon.  Yesterday we kicked off the ESSA Virtual Town Hall meetings with Standards and Assessments as the topic.  We started with this topic as sort of the “low hanging fruit” because, frankly, not much will change in theses areas for Wyoming as a result of ESSA.


Over the past year and a half, Wyoming has implemented a new standards review and adoption process (piloted with science) and extended the timeline to “up to nine years.”  These changes have helped to create consistency in school districts, provided additional opportunities for public input, and initiated a more thoughtful standards review and adoption process.


Wyoming is poised to adopt a new statewide assessment for 2018 but not as a result of ESSA. The Wyoming Assessment Task Force made recommendations that move Wyoming toward an aligned assessment system and some of the recommendations translated into legislation during the 2016 session.  Also, through the Request for Proposal (RFP) process, we will focus on securing an assessment that is configurable, aligned to Wyoming standards, allows us to compare our performance to other states, and is reasonably priced.

The next town hall meeting will focus on teacher and leader quality.  It will be held on July 14 at 4:00. To join via teleconference, go to www.uberconference.com/wdeuberconference, dial 888-670-9530 or 307-438-9905, and enter the pin 38533 when prompted.

Please pass along information about the upcoming town hall meetings to principals, curriculum directors, board members, parents and others.  Here is a link to the media release with details.


Chapter 31 Rules

Many of us across the state have weighed in or worked on Chapter 31 rules (graduation requirements) over the past several years.  This afternoon, the State Board of Education voted to move forward with revised rules.  You may be feeling some deja vu about now, and rightly so.  The State Board voted on March 31 to move forward with Chapter 31 rules also.  Through the promulgation process, however, amendments to the rules were needed to align more closely with legislative intent. Here is a link to the proposed rules that will be open for comment. 

Transgender Bathroom Guidance

Wyoming has entered a lawsuit with nine other states against the federal government over transgender bathroom guidance at school.  The lawsuit was filed in Nebraska and centers around the usurping of local authority and a unilateral redefinition of portions of Title IX. Nearly half of the states (23) have now taken legal action regarding the guidance issued to schools in May.

There are no memos this week.


ESSA Town Hall Meeting: Standards & Assessment

This meeting will provide information and gather input on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act as related to standards and assessment.

To join via teleconference, go to www.uberconference.com/wdeuberconference, dial 888-670-9530 or 307-438-9905, and enter the pin 38533 when prompted.

Public comment on the ESSA implementation in Wyoming will also be accepted through an online form through September 1, 2016.

Wyoming Discontinues Affiliation with Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

CHEYENNE – Wyoming has discontinued its Affiliate member status with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) in order to enter the procurement process without perception of conflict.

“Wyoming’s affiliation with SBAC raises red flags for me as we consider a new statewide assessment,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “Any real or perceived conflict, such as with SBAC, detracts from securing the most appropriate assessment for Wyoming students.”

Contracts with Wyoming’s current vendors for statewide assessments in grades 3-10 expire January 1, 2018. A Request for Proposals will be issued in the fall of 2016 for a vendor for statewide assessments in grades 3-10, in accordance with Enrolled Act No. 55.

Superintendent Balow added: “The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides Wyoming with a unique opportunity. We expect a statewide assessment that is configurable, comparable, and affordable. Classroom and district assessments give us the best information about how students are succeeding from day to day, while a statewide or summative assessment is a broader look at how students are doing from year to year and how our state is doing compared to others.”

Wyoming joined SBAC as an Advisory State in 2010, was granted Governing State status in August 2013, and reverted to Affiliate member status in October 2014. Several Wyoming school districts also participated in SBAC field testing during the spring 2014 assessment window.

Letter to SBAC

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Media Contact:
Kari Eakins, Communications Director

Wyoming to Submit Waiver on Speaking and Listening Assessments

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) will submit a waiver application request to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) from the requirement to assess students’ speaking and listening skills for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years. Public comment on this waiver request is being taken until April 19, 2016.

In September 2015, the USED released new guidance, which requires states to demonstrate that their assessments are aligned with the full extent of their adopted content standards, under section 1111(b)(3)(C)(ii) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended. The Wyoming Content and Performance Standards in English Language Arts address reading, writing, and language, as well as speaking, and listening. Wyoming’s state assessment system will undergo a peer review this spring to determine how well the statewide assessments address these areas.

The USED has noted that measurement of speaking and listening skills in a statewide assessment may not currently be feasible, and on March 2, 2016 the WDE received additional information on necessary steps for obtaining a waiver from that requirement.

Read Peer Review Letter from USED

The USED requires states to provide notice to the public and an opportunity to comment on the request. Comments must be submitted by April 19, 2016 through the online survey available here: goo.gl/forms/V7uK1zntTw.

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Media Contact:
Kari Eakins, Communications Director