May 2, 2016

CHEYENNE  – Last week the Wyoming State Board of Education heard updates on new Chapter 31 rules for graduation requirements, which must be finalized within four months, according to board chairman Pete Gosar. At their March meeting in Hulett, the State Board discussed graduation requirements per the 2015 assessment and accountability bill, which require the Department of Education to modify Chapter 31 rules. Governor Mead signed the emergency rules last week, which set a 120-day extension for new requirements to be put in place. State board member Sue Belish explained to the board on Thursday that they’re working with all parties in order to use this new timeline to better organize the rules.

“The board and the department are asking districts for their input,” Belish said. “We realize that practitioners know best how these rules effect students and educators day-to-day. And at this point it’s not a question of content; it’s just a question of format.” Since Chapter 31 references rules in Chapter 6 (accreditation) and Chapter 10 (Wyoming Content and Performance Standards), the board must work to make sure the three align.

System of Support

Wyoming Department of Education consultant, Dr. Joel Dvorak, delivered updates on the Wyoming Statewide System of Support after integrating the board’s feedback from his presentation at last month’s meeting in Hulett. The Wyoming Statewide System of Support is a mechanism developed at the request of the board to help districts achieve accreditation and comply with new accountability expectations. Dvorak said that the state has spent a lot of money assessing students and schools but not enough money supporting them, and that now is the time to invest in education because we need economic diversity now more than ever. Dvorak will integrate the feedback from the meeting in Worland into the draft plan before the Wyoming Statewide Systems of Support is shared with the Select Committee on Accountability in Casper on May 10.

The board also heard from Powell Middle School principal Scott Schiller, Parkside Elementary School principal Jason Hillman and Park County School District #1 superintendent Kevin Mitchell about how Professional Learning Communities work in schools and help schools fulfill Systems of Support requirements. The group told the board that changing adult behavior through collaborative structures changes the culture of schools. Schiller and Mitchell serve on the statewide collaborative council for systems of support.

RFP for assessment

Director of assessment for the Wyoming Department of Education, Deb Lindsey, discussed the options being considered for the Request For Proposals (RFP) for Wyoming’s new statewide assessment. Specialty assessment committees are being developed, and Lindsey said she hopes to have a vendor selected by the 2016 winter break. Lindsey said that schools will not adopt the new assessment until the 2017-18 school year. Those interested in serving on a committee should fill out a brief application.

Other business

The board discussed its new website, which will launch this summer in an effort to improve communication with Wyoming citizens.

In preparation for the departure of State Board coordinator Paige Fenton-Hughes, the board heard an update on hiring for the position. There are 29 applicants from which the board will interview three candidates. They plan to hire a new coordinator by the end of May.

The State Board plans to approve its 2017 schedule of meetings when they reconvene in May.

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Media Contact: 
Paige Fenton Hughes
(307) 349-4506