Tag Archives: Governor Matt Mead

New Wyoming Science Standards Finalized

CHEYENNE – Governor Matt Mead has signed and approved the new Wyoming Science Content and Performance Standards, marking the first update to the science standards since 2003.

“I made a commitment to the voters of Wyoming to include all voices in the standards review, development, and adoption process, and this week marks the conclusion of a nearly two year effort to deliver on that pledge.” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “Today, thanks to an inclusive process and a notable effort by Wyoming Department of Education staff and the standards review committee, we have world class standards that prepare our students for the next steps in life, teach them about science topics in Wyoming’s back yard, and foster a love for science.”

A review committee convened in the Spring of 2015, and recommended a draft set of standards which were approved by the State Board of Education (SBE) on September 23, 2016. During the review process WDE staff conducted numerous town halls around the state, facilitated standards review committee meetings, presented at SBE meetings, and participated in specific input sessions with key stakeholders such as parents, the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, and Wyoming Ag in the Classroom. This new Wyoming process has received national recognition as a best practice for state standards review.

Superintendent Balow added: “It was only by taking the measured and collaborative approach to this process that we were truly able to arrive at uniquely Wyoming and nationally rigorous standards.”

Several features of the new science standards are unique. A bucking horse symbol denotes standards where Wyoming examples are given or can be considered to help support the teaching of Wyoming-specific science. Also, the standards include “cross-cutting” where science concepts are connected to the application of other science topics, engineering, technology, or mathematics.

“We are grateful to our dedicated team of Wyoming educators, parents,  and business leaders for their hard work in developing these new science standards, and Laurie Hernandez and her team at the Department of Education for helping to make them a reality,” said Pete Gosar, chairman of the SBE. “Wyoming’s State Board of Education is committed to ensuring Wyoming kids have access to the best education available. These new science standards will better prepare them for college, career and entrepreneurship in Wyoming and beyond.”

School districts will have until the start of the 2020-21 school year to fully implement the new standards in their curriculum, instruction, and assessment system.

Other videos, created by the Science Standards Review Committee, will soon be available, including Resources, Instructional Shifts, Integrated Approach for Middle School, and Bundles for grades K-5.

For more details on Wyoming’s Science Content and Performance Standards standards and the review process, go to https://edu.wyoming.gov/educators/standards/science/.

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Media Contact:
Kari Eakins, Communications Director

Superintendent Balow Honored with Patrick Henry Award

(L-R) Governor Matt Mead, State Superintendent Jillian Balow, Big. Gen. retired, Harold Reed, and Wyoming adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Luke Reiner at the Governor's Reception.
(L-R) Governor Matt Mead, State Superintendent Jillian Balow, Brig. Gen. retired, Harold Reed, and Wyoming adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Luke Reiner at the Governor’s Reception.

CHEYENNE – State Superintendent Jillian Balow has been recognized with the Patrick Henry Award for her contributions to the Wyoming Military Department. Major General Luke Reiner, Wyoming’s Adjutant General, presented her with the award on Saturday at the Wyoming Military Department’s annual Governor’s Reception.

“I am beyond honored to receive this award,” said Superintendent Balow. “I hold members of the military in the highest regard, and firmly believe that they set the example for all of us. Our students can learn much from them about hard work, leadership, service, and citizenry.”

The Patrick Henry Award is the civilian counterpart to the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) Distinguished Service Medal. Created in 1989, it is designed to provide recognition to local officials and civic leaders, who in a position of great responsibility distinguished themselves with outstanding and exceptional service to the Armed Forces of the United States, the National Guard or NGAUS.

“The superintendent’s quest to expand the definition of success for Wyoming’s high school students to including being military ready is greatly appreciated and will have a long-lasting positive impact on Wyoming,” Reiner said.

During her time as Superintendent of Public Instruction, Superintendent Balow has been an ardent supporter and promoter of the military. Under her leadership, the Wyoming Department of Education has adopted a vision to significantly increase the percent of Wyoming students that are college, career, and military ready. She meets regularly with Wyoming’s Adjutant General, and works with his senior enlisted advisor, Chief Master Sgt. William Whipple, to offer support to the Wyoming Cowboy Challenge Academy. Superintendent Balow also attended the 2016 Army Educator Tour at Fort Hood, Texas in May, and worked with the Wyoming Military Department and the Governor’s Office to promote September as Military Readiness Month.

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Media Contact:
Kari Eakins, Communications Director

ESSA Implementation Timeline

Dear Superintendents,

The roundtable discussion with the United States Department of Education is next week in Casper. This is an important opportunity for Wyoming and I encourage you to attend and bring parents, board members, educators, community partners, and even students to the event.  Here is a link to the press release with additional information.

Planning for the implementation of ESSA in Wyoming continues to move forward on several fronts. Namely, the WDE is actively soliciting and receiving meaningful input from a variety of stakeholders. Almost every day, new information is added to the ESSA link on our website.  Here is a timeline of historical and upcoming milestones:

  • June – Aug 2016: First round of public input
  • July 2016: Internal Design Team convenes
  • Sept 2016: Internal Design Team begins writing state plan
  • Oct – Dec 2016: Second round of public input
  • Nov 2016: Advisory Committee makes recommendations to Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability
  • Dec 2016: Work Groups convene to review rough draft of state plan
  • Volunteer to be on Work Group
  • Jan – March 2017: Wyoming Legislature Convenes
  • April 2017: Release draft state plan
  • May 2017: 30-Day public review of draft state plan
  • June 2017: 30-Day Governor’s Office review of draft state plan
  • July 2017: Submit state plan

 Another round of listening tours begins in November. Here is a link to additional information about dates and locations. 


Recently, Secretary of State Ed Murray held the first Wyoming Youth Voter Summit–only a small percentage of eligible voters aged 18-24 actually vote. During this event, several Wyoming leaders learned about the Every Kid Votes campaign. This is a fast-approaching opportunity for our K-8 students to “cast their votes” for the upcoming election. “Election Day” is November 1. The Responsibility Foundation will host a training webinar for Wyoming next Wednesday, October 26, at 10:00 AM. If you are interested in this opportunity for any of your schools, please have a facilitator or administrator reach out to the Responsibility Foundation:

Marc Liebman marc@responsibilityfoundation.org

Bart Skalla bart@responsibilityfoundation.org

Here is a statement from Governor Mead on the topic:

I encourage all Wyoming schools and students to participate in the “Every Kid Votes” mock election on November 1. We all have an obligation to study the issues and the candidates, and every American should vote. “Every Kid Votes” offers an opportunity for our school children to learn about civic responsibility and the precious right to vote. 

President Ronald Reagan said, “The right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties and we will not see its luster diminished.” Its luster is brightest when every person participates fully in the democratic process.  I support this effort to help our kids learn more about that process. 

There are no memos this week.


A Busy Week

Dear Superintendents,

After a busy week, I’ll begin by saying (maybe gloating) that next week memos will be sent out for your preview without an update–I’ll be at the Women’s Antelope Hunt. FYI, proceeds from this hunt are used to improve odds for Wyoming women and children. In 2016, the Wyoming Women’s Foundation completed a self sufficiency study that indicates 1 out of 10 households in Wyoming fall below the federal poverty level.

On September 28, Governor Mead signed the first ever proclamation recognizing military readiness and career exploration. Governor Mead, military leaders, and others shared how military service is a viable path for students pursuing STEM careers, college, or lifelong military service. Service to our country is distinctly different from other career paths.  Here is an article about the event. Did you know:

  • The ASVAB (military entrance exam) is an excellent career exploration tool for students not entering the military.
  • Only 3 in 10 youth who pursue military service qualify because of the rigorous entrance requirements.
  • All military personnel have access to college credit and career training opportunities.
  • Wyoming students who serve maintain eligibility for the Hathaway scholarship.
  • The National Guard is an option for students who want to go to college or pursue a career while serving in the military.  In today’s Casper Star Tribune, student athlete and guardsmen, David Schall, was highlighted for his accomplishments in school, military, and football. Here is a link to the article. 
Governor Mead sits at a desk after signing the proclamation as Superintendent Balow, Chief Whipple and General Reiner stand behind him.
Chief Whipple, Major General Reiner, and I as Governor Mead signs the proclamation recognizing military readiness and career exploration
Governor Mead, WDE Staff and members of the Wyoming National Guard pose for a photo outside the Governor's Office.
Guardsmen and Guardswomen at the proclamation signing

Wyoming is one of seven states selected by the U.S. Department of Education to host a listening session for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Additional information will come from Senator Enzi and myself regarding specifics. It’s important that Wyoming is well represented at this roundtable discussion. It is open to all and we will reach out broadly to educators, business and industry, parents, partners, and others. Please make plans to attend and bring your comments about how ESSA is/should be implemented by states.

Save the Date, ESSA Community Roundtable, October 26, Casper

On Tuesday, Governor Mead hosted a Suicide Prevention Symposium. There were only a few educators there—the audience was comprised mostly of survivors, family members, community resource partners, and advocates. Auditor Cloud shared the story of her son’s recent suicide. It is clear that many in Wyoming are interested in “moving the needle” on our suicide numbers, including schools. It will take continued collaboration and new approaches to prevention to truly make a difference. One first step is to talk about suicide–that was the purpose for the symposium.

State Auditor Cynthia Cloud speaking at the Governor's Suicide Prevention Symposium.
Auditor Cloud shares the devastation her family feels after her son’s suicide in March. It is imperative we talk openly about suicide.

We are planning the second Superintendent’s Summit (S5S) and will, once again, ask districts to send four people (superintendent, board chair, principal of the year, teacher of the year or designees) to the event in Cheyenne. This year, our main focus will be on leveraging ESSA to impact transitions into post-secondary. We confirmed UW President Laurie Nichols as a speaker (and that’s just the teaser).

Save the Date: S5S 2017. 2017 Wyoming State Superintendent's Policy Summit, Continued Conversations. Superintendent Balow invites every Wyoming School district to send their superintendent, board chair, outstanding principal, and teacher of the year to join the WDE team for vertical conversations about education from national, state and local perspectives. January 12-13, Little America Hotel & Resort, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Governor Mead signs the proclamation for K9's for Mobility as two black labs put their front paws on the desk, one licking the Governor's face.
Governor Mead is kissed by Roonie the service dog. Roonie will be placed at Davis Elementary School in Cheyenne to assist disabled students.

Memo to be released on Monday, October 3:


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:


A Focus on Growth and Success

Dear Superintendents,

Welcome to the newly designed template for my weekly update to district superintendents. I will continue to personally write the update each week and it will only go to superintendents on Fridays. To recap, the purpose of the update is to:

  • Keep you informed about what I am doing
  • Provide insight and information about salient topics in Wyoming education
  • Send memos before they are public for your preview/review

It’s important to keep the focus on our growth and success versus the aftermath of a rough budget legislative session. Here are a few:

Rawlins Elementary School was recognized at the Governor’s Arts Awards after applying for and receiving a sizable grant from Crayola. Crayola was, in particular, impressed with RES’s commitment to teaching Art in an integrated way.

RES faculty and Mike Lange of Wyoming Arts Council at the Awards Gala
RES faculty and Mike Lange of Wyoming Arts Council at the Awards Gala

Hulett High School students successfully brought a bill to make the Sagebrush Wyoming’s state shrub. It was met with opposition but, in the end, passed. Nearly 60 students traveled to Cheyenne for the bill signing. Senator Driskill reports that students are more interested in the Legislature than ever.

HHS students at signing of State shrub bill
HHS students at signing of State shrub bill

45 teachers received National Board Certification in 2015 and were recognized with a check for $1000, continued support from the Ellbogen Foundation, and an annual stipend. Wyoming ranks among the highest for the total number of board certified teachers. More Wyoming schools than ever achieved the status of having 10%+ board certified staff. This is unique in the nation and the envy of many rural states whose small districts struggle to grow a quality teaching staff.

Havely Holt of Douglas receives recognition after achieving Natl Board Certification
Havely Holt of Douglas receives recognition after achieving Natl Board Certification

This week marked Read Across America and Dr. Suess’s birthday. Schools across the state hosted “celebrity” readers and activities. I also serve on the advisory board for the UW Literacy Research Center and Clinic. Yesterday, we met and talked about how to better spotlight literacy and the wonderful activities happening across the state. More news to come…

Reading aloud to students on Dr. Suess's birthday
Reading aloud to students on Dr. Suess’s birthday


Governor Mead signed the biennial budget into law late on Thursday. He did so with more line-item vetoes than ever before and concerns about not expanding Medicaid, blurred lines of responsibility among the executive and legislative branches, and significant cuts to education, local governments, and others.

As it stands, education was cut by $36 million (1% year one; 1.4% year two). The state projects a drop in revenue of $480 million in the upcoming biennium.

The WDE is beginning to field concerns about how cuts translate in your districts as you begin conversations with your stakeholder groups. Please feel free to reach out to us knowing that we need your input and ideas for solutions as well.


The testing window for Aspire, the new online assessment for grades 9 and 10, opens on April 11th. This is our first foray into online state assessment since 2010. It’s imperative that all high schools are ready to successfully administer the test. The Wyoming ACT Aspire team and school district faculty/staff have worked together to provide many resources for districts to help ensure a smooth administration.

Here’s a short checklist for you to use to ensure readiness for the assessment:

  • Has your high school completed the online Infrastructure Trial? (If not, it should be completed well in advance of April 11th)
  • Has your high school set up testing sessions?
  • Have you reviewed and shared this week’s memo?

Memos to be released Monday, March 7, 2016: