Wyoming wants to replace its standardized tests with something new, and lawmakers met in Casper Thursday to hear recommendations from a statewide testing task force.
The group presented before the Legislature’s Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability. The final task force report calls for end-of-year testing in third through 10th grade that takes up no more than one percent of class time. They want a test that can be taken online and is offered in more than one state.
Supporters of a multi-state test say it would cut costs and allow for national comparison. But Pinedale Republican Representative Albert Sommers says the value of national comparison is overstated.
“I don’t like the idea of always having football scores for our kids and trying to say that state A is better than state B. Kids in Massachusetts are not comparable to kids in states like Wyoming or other states that have high mineral extraction for their economy,” Sommers says.
The task force wants standardized testing in third through tenth grade—and recommends that the ACT be optional, instead of being the test the state uses to measure academic performance in high school.
High school juniors who don’t want to take a college entrance exam like the ACT would be required to take a ‘career-readiness’ test. Senator Chris Rothfuss of Laramie has concerns about that recommendation.
“I believe we should be giving every student the opportunity to be college and career ready when they graduate from high school, not college or career ready,” says Rothfuss. “And they can make those decisions after they graduate, but it seems like we’re going the wrong direction if we’re forcing those decisions to be made very early on.”
Lawmakers will ultimately select a new test to replace the Proficiency Assessment for Wyoming Students—or PAWS. The task force called on them to change some current state laws that take certain tests off the table—like a law requiring multiple-choice tests.
Whatever lawmakers decide, a new test would not be in place until at least 2018.