State Assessment System

Wyoming’s assessment system measures students’ progress toward the Wyoming Content Standards. It is used to enhance teaching and learning, support school improvement, and to provide data for accountability to help ensure the effectiveness of schools, programs, and staff. When used in conjunction with a school district’s annual assessment program, statewide assessments provide the information needed to develop and implement strategies for improvement of student performance.

New Assessment System for 2017-22

Wyoming recently released two Request for Proposals (RFPs) for our new statewide assessment system. The first was for the Comprehensive Statewide Assessment System Grades 1-10, and the second was for the College Entrance and Career/Work Readiness Assessments. The State Board reviewed the recommendations of the RFP Review Committee and voted to approve the new statewide assessment system.  SBE Press Release on New Statewide Assessments

There are a lot of questions around the new assessment system including what it will look like and when it will be administered. The WDE is in contract negotiations with American Institutes for Research (AIR) for the Gr. 1-10 assessments and with ACT for the CCR assessments.  Once those contracts are in place, further information will be provided to school districts. This will occur before the end of the school year to allow time to plan for the next school year. The RFPs were based on the Recommendations of the Assessment Task Force, much of which was also added into Wyoming Statute during the 2016 Session and are effective July 1, 2017.  W.S. 21-2-204 and W.S. 21-2-304

Interim assessments will be available to districts, free of charge, for grades 1-10 and will be mini-summative assessments and modular assessments, with item types similar to the summative assessment.

2017-22 Summative Assessments
  • Reading and mathematics will be assessed each year in grades 3-11
  • Science will be assessed in grades 4, 8, and 10 (once per grade span) – because we have new science standards, a new science assessment will be operational for the 2020 assessment; we will continue with our current assessment on the new testing platform for the next two years
  • Writing will be assessed at a minimum once per grade span
  • Online with multiple item types (e.g., enhanced multiple choice, constructed response, technology enhanced, performance task)
  • Later testing window (e.g., mid-April through first full week in May suggested)
  • Testing time is limited to 1% of the school year (e.g., 9 hours for elementary, 10 for middle school, and 11 for high school); this is for “actual testing time” and does not include test prep, breaks, or time reading the instructions
  • Comparability across states – students’ scores are to be comparable to students’ scores from other states
  • Reporting deadline of August 1st to facilitate school improvement activities
  • Readiness check and training will be conducted to ensure schools have a smooth online test administration

Further information including timeline of availability (interim), testing dates, and technology specifications will be sent to the districts once contracts are in place.

2016-17 State Assessment System Composition

Elementary and Middle Grades Assessments (grades 3-8)
  • The Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students, PAWS, are summative assessments in reading, mathematics, and science. The PAWS in reading and mathematics are administered once a year in grades 3-8. The PAWS science assessment is administered in grades 4 and 8.
  • The WY-Alternate (Wy-ALT) is given once per year to students with significant cognitive disabilities in grades 3-8 in ELA and mathematics and in grades 4 and 8 in science.

High School Assessments (grades 9-12)
  • ASPIRE is a new product in the ACT line of college and career readiness assessments. It assesses students’ achievement in English, math, reading, and science. This assessment will be administered to all 9th and 10th graders for the first time in the spring of 2016.
  • ACT Plus Writing is the capstone of the ACT college and career readiness system. It measures students’ general learning outcomes in English, math, reading, writing, and science. This assessment is given once a year to all students in the 11th grade.
    • WorkKeys is an optional assessment for students in grades 11 and 12, and is used to assess a student’s job skills.
  • Wy-ALT is given once per year to students with significant cognitive disabilities in grades 9-11 in ELA, mathematics and science.

English Proficiency Assessments
  • The ACCESS for ELLs® is required once per year with all students who are English language learners. It assesses students’ progress in attaining English proficiency. An alternate ACCESS is also available for English language learners who also have significant cognitive disabilities.

  • In addition to the statewide assessment system, Wyoming schools and students also participate in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, every other year. The next administration of the NAEP is in 2017.

2016-17 Assessment Calendar

Below please find the final 2016-17 state assessment calendar.  Note that it will be a “NAEP year,” so you can expect increased communications from Will Donkersgoed in the fall.

2016-17 Assessment Calendar


Parent Opt Outs from Statewide Assessment

In the Spring of 2014, the WDE requested an opinion from the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office regarding parent opt outs from state-mandated testing (e.g. PAWS, ASPIRE, ACT, Wy-ALT). The following is part of the AG’s response:

“In summary, the State Board of Education is authorized to establish the statewide accountability system pursuant to state law, including the Wyoming Accountability in Education Act. It has promulgated rules that require districts to administer the relevant assessments to all students in the appropriate grade levels. These requirements are within the authority granted to the board by the legislature. Consequently, districts may not allow students or their parents to opt them out of the assessments provided by law.”

The full opinion can be found here: