September 23, 2016
CHEYENNE –The Wyoming State Board of Education (SBE) voted unanimously today to approve the 2016 Wyoming Science Content and Performance Standards, the first new science standards in 13 years. The standards will now be sent to Governor Mead for signature. If signed, school districts will develop local curricula to implement the standards by the 2020-21 school year.
“We are very pleased to be moving forward with new science standards built by an engaged and diverse group of educators, administrators, business people and parents throughout Wyoming,” said Pete Gosar, chairman of the state board. “The public input process on this was lengthy and robust. We applaud and appreciate Laurie Hernandez and the entire Wyoming Department of Education’s efforts and analysis throughout the process.”
Modeled after the Next Generation Science Standards written by the National Research Council in collaboration with the National Science Teachers Association, with significant input from 41 educators, parents, business leaders and community members, the new science standards are customized for Wyoming students. The new standards address traditional science concepts while adding new features including engineering and technological applications, as well as cross-cutting concepts or themes in science, such as energy sources and transformations. The board-adopted standards also emphasize connections to other subject areas like math and English. Once signed by the Governor, Wyoming’s new science standards will form the basis of new statewide assessments.
The Wyoming Department of Education’s (WDE) supervisor of standards, Laurie Hernandez, presented final public input and edited science standards at the September 23 SBE meeting. Over the last 18 months, 10 public meetings were held across the state and 377 public comments were collected. Public comments were mostly supportive. Some were concerned about implementation and a limited number of others offered specific recommendations for inclusion, which were curricular choices and couldn’t be included in the standards. These are the domain of districts. Most recently, the WDE extended the mandatory 45-day public comment period to 64 days, which occurred from June 10 – August 12 this year. During this time the WDE again reviewed and edited the standards to ensure clarity and format, align language, and update grade bands on specific subjects. The WDE also began determining what documents and resources they would make available to roll out the standards to districts.
While districts will develop their own customized curricula, the WDE will provide resources to support their work, much of which will be developed by the educators on the science standards committee.
“Our educators must go beyond textbooks to support and teach these new standards,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “We hope they will work together to create a curriculum that addresses the standards, while cross-cutting STEM and other subjects into their lessons. We’re almost to the finish line, and when we get there we’ll have some of the best science standards in the nation. We’ll have Wyoming science standards for Wyoming kids that ensure that all of our students will be knowledgeable about science, knowledgeable about the scientific process and inquiry, and ready for the next steps in life.”
Public Input Timeline
- March 17, 2015: The SBE officially opened the science standards for updating.
- April 3-20, 2015: A news release was sent statewide calling for science standards committee members.
- May and June, 2015: The WDE held community meetings to hear public comment in five regional areas and online. At this point, 211 comments were collected.
- May 20, 2015: WDE held a webinar for the science standards committee.
- June 15-16, 2015: Thirty-eight of the 41 science standards committee members came together to officially begin the standards development process.
- August 11-12, 2015: The science standards committee met to continue standards development for K-12 science education.
- November 13-15, 2015: The science standards committee held a three-day meeting where they developed benchmarks and worked on cross-cutting and content areas.
- February 5-6, 2016: The science standards committee held its fourth and final committee meeting. They finalized their recommended standards and submitted them to the WDE.
- March 11, 2016: The WDE sent out a news release and held a press conference to inform the public about science standards, public comment and the upcoming board meeting. Written and video resources were also made available. More than 50 articles were written about this announcement.
- March 17-18, 2016: The SBE held a meeting in Hulett, where members reviewed standards, made recommendations and asked questions. The board unanimously approved to open the Proposed 2016 Wyoming Science Content & Performance Standards for public input to be brought back to the board at a later meeting.
- March 11-May 11, 2016: SBE held a 60-day public input period.
- March 21-22, 2016: The WDE and SBE sent out news releases informing the public about the opening of further public input.
- April 11 – May 11, 2016: The WDE conducted a teacher and district survey to gather feedback regarding the 2016 proposed science standards. This was used to develop communication, implementation and professional development plans.
- May 4 -10 2016: During this time five additional input meetings were held across the state while online comment collection continued. An additional 151 public comments were collected.
- May 19-20, 2016: During the SBE board meeting in Laramie, the board reviewed the crosswalk from the current to the proposed standards, teacher and district survey results and new public input. They also reviewed the communication, implementation and professional development plans developed by the WDE.
- May 24, 2016: The SBE sent news release notifying public that it would soon enter into another public comment period, which would be a minimum of 45 days.
- June 10 – August 12, 2016: This was the SBE and WDE’s final public comment period for science standards. It was 64 days long, 19 days longer than the mandated period. Five public comments were collected.
Throughout the last 18 months, the WDE also posted information on its website, and made online public commenting easily accessible.
Additional board activity and action:
- State Superintendent Jillian Balow led a discussion about how ESSA may impact Wyoming education, and how the board will be involved in the state plan for implementation, which will be submitted to the federal government in March 2017.
- The state board discussed how they plan to proceed on rules promulgation for topics like standards, accreditation and graduation requirements, and reviewed comments from districts on these same topics.
- The board voted to adopt new language surrounding executive sessions.
- The board discussed 2017 educational goals for Wyoming.
- The WDE presented the work of four specialty assessment committees, which were composed of educators from around the state: ECE (K-2 and early literacy group), alternative assessments for cognitively disabled students, Career and Tech Ed and English Language proficiency.
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For more information, contact Chelsie Oaks at (307) 777-6213 or Chelsie.Oaks@wyo.gov.
Dr. Thomas Sachse