Wyoming Department of Education

Wyoming's Joint Education Committee is considering a proposal to consolidate the administration of early childhood education in the state.

As part of an ongoing effort to root out inefficiencies in public education, lawmakers have asked the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) to draft rules that strengthen guidelines for special education spending. Wyoming is the only state to reimburse school districts 100 percent for special education services.

Brett Levin / www.flickr.com/photos/scubabrett22/6153306342

Educators, district administrators, law enforcement and public officials from across the state came together for a summit in Cheyenne Wednesday to discuss school safety.

The Federal Commission on School Safety will make a stop in Cheyenne for a public listening session. This is one of four sessions happening across the country to gather views on how to make schools safer. Similar events have already happened in Washington, DC and Lexington, Kentucky.

Wyoming Department of Education

In a feat of bipartisan cooperation, Congress has reauthorized the Perkins Act, which provides $1.1 billion for career and technical education CTE.

Images from WDE. Layout by Tennessee Watson

Before kids go back to school, state officials and educators will gather in Cheyenne to discuss how to make schools safer. The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) is hosting a School Safety Summit on August 8.

Wyoming Department of Education

State lawmakers passed legislation during the 2018 session requiring school districts to offer computer science, but they did not appropriate funds to support the implementation of the new curriculum.

Wyoming State Board of Education

Updates to statewide content and performance standards in math and social studies, as well high school graduation requirements have been approved by the Wyoming State Board of Education. Those rules are now before Governor Matt Mead for final approval. He has 75 days to sign off.

Wyoming Department of Education

The Wyoming Department of Education is collaborating with the University of Wyoming to host the Week of Academic Vision and Excellence (WAVE) conference later this month.

Tennessee Watson

Farmworkers feed us, and to do so they travel around the country following the harvest. For their kids, that means moving from school to school. Wyoming Public Radio's education reporter Tennessee Watson found there’s a system in place to help these students, and brought us a story from North Dakota. To learn more about why we heard about one kid in North Dakota, Morning Edition host Caroline Ballard spoke with Tennessee about her reporting.

Tennessee Watson


Angel, a tall, lanky 14-year-old, dribbles down the basketball court of the school gymnasium in Manvel, North Dakota. Realizing he’s unmarked he goes for the three-pointer. It’s a nice arching shot, but the ball bounces tenuously on the rim and doesn’t go in.

Bureau of Land Management

Look no further than the school cafeteria for choice cuts of locally raised meat. The School Nutrition Project, entering its second year, splits the processing costs with districts who receive donated animals from local farmers and 4-H clubs. 

Tennessee Watson / Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming is in the process of changing what it takes to get a high school diploma, or what’s more formally known as Chapter 31 rules. In 2015, legislation did away with a tiered diploma system in favor of a more streamlined approach. It’s been a three-year process but the Wyoming Department of Education is hopeful the rules will go into place this summer.

Wyoming Department of Education

The Wyoming Department of Education is currently taking public comment on the Hathaway scholarship, following changes made to the program during the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions.

Layout by Tennessee Watson

School staff in Wyoming can now carry concealed weapons, on a district by district basis. A bill passed during the 2017 state legislative session gave school boards the power to decide if guns should be a part of security protocol. So far two communities, Cody and Evanston, have taken advantage of the new law. But in Evanston people like Sheila McGuire are pushing back.

Wyoming schools are a place of linguistic diversity, and students whose primary language is other than English are guaranteed access to the same academic content as their peers.

The Wyoming Department of Education tracks the progress of English Learners (EL), and provides online resources and face-to-face workshops to support districts.

WDE Consultant Antoinette Hallam said the state has seen a steady increase in such students over the last decade.

“We have about 28 – or 58 percent – of our districts with an increase,” said Hallam.

A focus on the educational needs of foster kids increased with the implementation of Every Student Succeeds: the federal act that replaced No Child Left Behind. The new guidelines required Wyoming school districts to implement foster care plans. Districts now have foster care liaisons and collaborative agreements with local representatives from the Department of Family Services (DFS).

Wyoming Department of Education

Wyoming continues to lead the nation in math and reading. That’s according to the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which tests fourth and eighth-grade students across the country on reading and mathematics every two years.

Wyoming has scored above average across the board since 2013. In 2015, two states scored higher on fourth-grade math, but on the 2017 assessment, Wyoming was among the nation’s top performers.

Wyoming Department of Education

By 2022, all Wyoming school districts are mandated to offer computer science courses. To help make this possible, the Wyoming Department of Education has launched a new program to create standards, develop curriculum and train teachers. It’s called Boot Up Wyoming 2022.

Aaron Schrank

The Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction announced she’s running for a second term. Jillian Balow said there’s more she wants to do.

Jack, his mom Sarah Chatfield and his teacher Tia Reed pose with the cookies he's brought for the teachers at his IEP meeting. A team works with Jack and his family to create an individualized learning plan to accommodate his low vision.
Tennessee Watson

In an effort to curb the rising costs of K-12 education, the state legislature voted to cap spending on special education during the 2018 Budget Session. Lawmakers also directed the Wyoming Department of Education to come up with efficiencies. While educators agree there’s room for improvements, they say Wyoming’s rural nature complicates things.

Wyoming Department of Education

Following the recent shootings in Florida and Kentucky, educators and policymakers across the country are asking questions about school safety and security. Last year Wyoming’s state legislature made it possible for local school boards to decide as a community whether or not to arm trained staff.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/lupuca/8720604364

If the Wyoming Department of Education has its way, kids across the state will be guaranteed access to computer science education. Bills have passed in both the House and Senate, which would require districts to offer computer science courses.

 

But those bills differ slightly. Dicky Shanor, Chief of Staff for the Wyoming Department of Education, said the Senate’s version of the bill is stronger because it treats computer science has a stand-alone knowledge area, where as the House places it under career and technical education.

Wyoming Department of Education

In his State of the State address, Governor Matt Mead urged the legislature to find ways to stabilize education funding, which relies heavily on revenues from the energy industry. But attempts to diversify the tax base — to protect school finance from booms and busts — have gone nowhere. Lawmakers who oppose generating new revenue sources say school finance is too opaque. They want more time to settle their uncertainty.

 

Kamila Kudelska

There are over 500 open computing jobs in Wyoming, amounting to roughly $30 million in wages not flowing into the state. That’s according to Code.org, a non-profit that has partnered with the Wyoming Department of Education to expand access to computer science in schools.

 

Ten months and $800,000 later, the Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration has completed its in-depth look at how Wyoming finances education. Members of APA Consulting, who were tasked with examining the equity and adequacy of the school funding model, told lawmakers the state’s current approach works but pointed out areas for improvement. Despite a recommendation to spend more, lawmakers are opting to spend less.

David Joyce / Flickr.com

As more and more students across Wyoming enroll in classes online, it can make calculating attendance at a public school a little more tricky. And homeschool students may come to school for just a portion of the day, while other students might leave school early.

In 2017 the legislature passed a policy changing how the school finance model calculates attendance — or what’s called average daily membership.

The amount of time students spend in school impacts the amount of money districts get in their block grant from the state.

Wyoming Department of Education

Wyoming high school graduation rates saw a slight increase in 2017 from the previous year, according to data released by the Wyoming Department of Education. That continues a four-year trend of improvement, bringing the statewide rate up to 80.2 percent.

 

Graphics from Education Week. Layout by Tennessee Watson

Wyoming was given a B-minus score for its education quality, according to recently released data in Education Week’s report Quality Counts 2018. That puts it above the national average of a C, and the seventh best in the nation.

 

The grades are based on three criteria: chance for success, K-12 achievement, and school finance.

Wyoming Department of Education

In the final hours of the 120 day review period, the U.S. Department of Education notified Wyoming officials that the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act Plan had been approved.

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