PAWS

Contact Information

Assessment Supervisor
Jessica Steinbrenner
(307) 777-8568
jessica.steinbrenner@wyo.gov

Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS)


About the Program

A primary purpose of the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS) is to foster program improvement at the school, district, and state levels in support of the teaching and learning that takes place in Wyoming public classrooms and meets all of the attendant requirements of the federal accountability law. In 2005-2006, PAWS became the official statewide assessment used to measure individual student achievement against the Wyoming Content and Performance Standards in reading, writing, and mathematics for grades 3 – 8 and 11. In 2008, a science assessment was implemented for grades 4, 8, and 11. Beginning in 2013, the PAWS was administered in grades 3-8 in reading, math, and grades 4 and 8 in science.

PAWS is designed to be instructionally supportive and include clear targets for instruction as well as informative reporting categories. PAWS reports provide skill-level categories aligned to the Wyoming Content and Performance Standards as organized by the Wyoming Assessment Descriptions.

Assessment results provide important information to all facets of the school community. These PAWS results assist teachers in addressing specific academic needs of students and in making decisions about delivery of instruction in their classrooms. Policymakers, administrators, students, and parents also use assessment information for a variety of purposes. Collectively, these users make decisions about how well students are achieving, whether schools are functioning effectively for each child, and whether they are functioning well for all children collectively.

The PAWS is a multiple choice assessment in reading, math, and science.

Accommodations are allowed on the PAWS for students on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), for students on a 504 Plan, and for English Language Learners (ELL). Selection of accommodations for the general assessment is the responsibility of a student’s IEP team, 504 Plan committee or service providers for ELL, and must align with the guidelines found in the PAWS standard accommodations manual found at the link below. Accommodations selected and administrated must be from the PAWS Accommodations Manual. Accommodations provided must be regularly used by the student.


PAWS Portal

The PAWS portal provides administrators and teachers with access to calendars, forms, instructions and other documents that are needed to coordinate the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students. The portal can be accessed here.

2016 PAWS Interpretation Guide for Teachers To view this PDF, click here to download Adobe Reader


Test Operations Management System (TOMS)

2017 TOMS Webinar – video
TOMS Training

The Test Operations Management System, TOMS, is used by districts to update student information and to order additional test materials for the PAWS test.Online Reporting System!

Online Reporting Suite

WDE is pleased to offer an online reporting system for PAWS results. While this reporting system does not provide official results for accountability, it will give schools a preliminary look at their performance along with detailed information to support school improvement. Building Coordinators and District Coordinators may access this new system through the Test Operations Management System, TOMS. These reports can be found under the reporting tab in TOMS.

2015-2016 TOMS Information


Released Test Questions By Domain

Grade 3

Math Performance Level Descriptors


Grade 4

Math Performance Level Descriptors


Grade 5

Math Performance Level Descriptors


Grade 6

Math Performance Level Descriptors

Sample Answer Document


Grade 7

Math Performance Level Descriptors

Sample Answer Document


Grade 8

Math Performance Level Descriptors

Sample Answer Document

Grade 3

ELA Performance Level Descriptors


Grade 4

ELA Performance Level Descriptors


Grade 5

ELA Performance Level Descriptors


Grade 6

ELA Performance Level Descriptors

Sample Answer Document


Grade 7

ELA Performance Level Descriptors

Sample Answer Document


Grade 8

ELA Performance Level Descriptors

Sample Answer Document


Materials By Grade


Further Reading

Given changes to the 2014 PAWS in Reading and Mathematics, direct comparisons cannot be made between current results and results from years before 2014. Major shifts in both content tested and the performance expectations were made, making direct comparisons of performance in Reading and Math invalid. The charts below show comparisons between the 2014 PAWS results and the 2015 PAWS results.

2015 PAWS Math Percentages

2015 PAWS Reading Percentages

Science content standards have not yet changed, so there have been no changes to the PAWS Science Test. Direct comparisons from one year to the next on the Science portion of the test are still valid.

2015 PAWS Science Percentages

Statewide means and standard deviations on the new scales can be found here.

The 2014 PAWS results were released in September 2014, following development of an entirely new scale and associated performance level cuts. These changes are the culmination of a two year transition process to fully address the 2012 Wyoming Content and Performance Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. The performance cuts that define the various performance levels (Basic, Proficient, and Advanced) are below:

Scale Score Proficiency Level Ranges for Grades 3-8 Mathematics

GradeBelow BasicBasicProficientAdvanced
3375-549550-598599-659660-850
4400-583584-636637-696697-875
5425-608609-651652-726727-900
6450-628629-676677-742743-925
7475-652653-696697-752753-950
8500-663664-706707-762763-925

Scale Score Proficiency Level Ranges for Grades 3-8 Reading

GradeBelow BasicBasicProficientAdvanced
3375-552553-589590-640641-800
4400-565566-605606-659660-825
5425-577578-619620-667668-850
6450-588589-629630-680681-875
7475-605606-641642-692693-900
8500-615616-655656-710711-925

Proficiency Level Ranges for Grades 4 and 8 Science

GradeBelow BasicBasicProficientAdvanced
4611 and lower612-665666-725726 and higher
8605 and lower606-653654-713714 and higher

PAWS underwent a transition to phase in content aligned to the 2012 WyCPS. The 2014 test was different enough from prior years’ tests to warrant “breaking scale” and re-setting performance standards. This means that the 2014 PAWS was be based on an entirely new scale and the “cuts” in the scale which define the scale score ranges associated with advanced, proficient, basic, and below basic were re-set. The test vendor provided concordance tables that allowed a one-year crosswalk comparison of 2013 results to 2014 results. The tests were not directly comparable because of the change in content.

Whenever the content standards change, then states must consider the implications for their tests (since alignment of the state test to the state’s content standards is a requirement under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA). If the changes are minor, perhaps no changes are necessary. But when the standards change significantly, as they did in Wyoming in 2012, then changes to the state test are warranted — otherwise the test isn’t aligned to what teachers use when designing their units and lessons.

The WDE wrote new performance level descriptors (PLDs) for the test. Teachers helped us refine them prior to presentation to the State Board of Education in May 2014. These PLDs were used by the panels convened in July 2014, to help set the new cut scores, since they describe what students need to know and be able to do in order to score, say, advanced in math at grade 4 or proficient in reading at grade 7.

The Professional Judgment Panel re-convened in the fall 2014, to consider the effects in the school accountability model.

Concordance Tables

2014 Concordance Tables Mathematics Grades 3-8

2014 Concordance Tables Reading Grades 3-8

Assessment-related resources (Rubrics, Descriptions, Draft Writing paper, Traffic Signal suggestions)

PAWS Test Administration Portal

Blueprints by Subject

Reading Blueprints

Math Blueprints

Science Blueprints

Historical Information About PAWS Transition

The Wyoming Department of Education developed assessment target documents outlining the transition of the Proficiency Assessment of Wyoming Students (PAWS) to the 2012 Wyoming Content Standards, which are the Common Core State Standards. The assessment target documents identified for teachers, parents, and students the new assessment content in reading and math for each year of the transition. It’s important to note that much of this content, especially in year one, aligns to the 2008 standards and has historically been assessed on the PAWS. The transition to the new standards took place in three distinct steps:

In the first year of the transition, school year 2012 -2013, PAWS will include items which will align to the 2008 and 2012 Wyoming Content Standards. Some items will align to 2008 standards only while others will align to both sets of standards. The items that measure the standards identified in Phase I will be field tested on the 2013 PAWS.

In the second year of the transition, school year 2013 -2014, PAWS will be totally aligned to that content designated in the assessment target documents as Phase I content. Items that measure the standards identified in Phase II will be field tested on the 2014 PAWS.

In the third year of transition, school year 2014 -2015, PAWS will be totally aligned to that content identified in the assessment target documents as both Phase I and Phase II content.

Mathematics Targets

Grade 3

Grade 4

Grade 5

Grade 6

Grade 7

Grade 8

Reading Targets

Grade 3

Grade 4

Grade 5

Grade 6

Grade 7

Grade 8

Archived Blueprints

2014-2015 Reading

2014-2015 Mathematics

2014-2015 Science

Archived Math Blueprints

2015 Grade 3 Math Blueprint

2015 Grade 4 Math Blueprint

2015 Grade 5 Math Blueprint

2015 Grade 6 Math Blueprint

2015 Grade 7 Math Blueprint

2015 Grade 8 Math Blueprint

Archived Reading Blueprints

2015 Grade 3 Reading Blueprints

2015 Grade 4 Reading Blueprint

2015 Grade 5 Reading Blueprint

2015 Grade 6 Reading Blueprint

2015 Grade 7 Reading Blueprint

2015 Grade 8 Reading Blueprint

Science

2015 Grade 4 Science Blueprint

2015 Grade 8 Science Blueprint

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.