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Wyoming Schools Improve Performance

Wyoming Department of Education

The number of Wyoming schools meeting or exceeding performance expectations increased last year. The 2016 Wyoming School Performance Ratings were released Tuesday. They show 21 more schools met state benchmarks in the 2015-2016 academic year than in the previous year.

Expectation ratings for elementary and middle schools are based on proficiency on standardized tests and grading, as well as on fairness and inclusion in the classroom. High schools are additionally rated on graduation rates and how many students are eligible for the Hathaway Scholarship.

Schools that did not meet expectations will receive additional support to raise their scores for next time. Wyoming’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow says gathering this kind of data is crucial for school improvement.

“One of the most important parts of school improvement is that discovery process,” Balow said. “Digging through the data to determine where is it that a school is falling out and addressing that through more individualized learning opportunities for students to bring those scores up.”

Schools in the bottom 5 percent will be partnered with higher performing schools in hopes of sharing more effective teaching methods and other skills.

But Balow is concerned the state’s budget woes will draw attention from the need for school improvement.

“We know that we are in hard financial times, but we must never forget that we have a state and legislature that are very committed to student success and very committed to the investment in education,” says Balow.

Wyoming’s alternative high schools were not included in the report since they are currently developing their own accountability model.

Maggie Mullen is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. Her work has aired on NPR, Marketplace, Science Friday, and Here and Now. She was awarded a 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her story on the Black 14.
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