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PAWS Results Show Steady Student Performance

Wyoming Department of Education

The Wyoming Department of Education reported Thursday that student scores on statewide assessments have seen some improvements. The Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students — known as PAWS — tests students in grades 3-8 in reading and math, and grades 4-8 in science.

Eighth grade students who scored proficient or advanced in science saw a 3.7% increase this year, and a 10.8% increase over the last four years. And fourth graders scoring proficient or advanced in math saw a 2.6% increase this year. Older grades saw a slight decline in math scores, but the WDE said the small shift in scores was not statistically significant enough to signify a problem.

This is last time the WDE will release PAWS results. Next year the state will begin using a different test called WY-TOPP. Superintendent Jillian Balow said the new test is better for kids and schools, “in terms of reduced time, in terms of depth and breadth of knowledge that’s covered in the test, in terms of the ability to have an online and adaptive test. We think those are improvements.”

While the format of the test is changing, Balow said content and performance standards will stay the same.

This is also the first year that data on full-time virtual education students is available, according to Balow. “We pulled them out of the rest of the student groups so we can see how our virtual education students are doing in comparison to our students in brick and mortar classrooms.”

This change was made possible by the Virtual Education Act passed by the 2017 Legislature. The results of this year’s assessment — at the state, district, and school levels — are available on the WDE’s Fusion site.

Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-producing Wage/Working (a jukebox-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.
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