Task Force Makes Testing Recommendations

Oct 20, 2015

Credit FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

A State Board of Education task force report is calling for a standardized testing system that better aligns with Wyoming’s content standards. It also recommends that Wyoming adopt a test that is used by more than one state, to allow for more comparison.

Wyoming is looking at replacing its current year-end test, PAWS, with something new. The task force has met 7 times since June to study testing needs.

The group wants a unified testing system for third through 10th grade, rather than PAWS for grade-schoolers and the ACT in 11th grade.

The report suggests testing stop after 10th grade so that juniors and seniors can focus on career readiness. It also calls for year-end tests like PAWS to be better aligned with mid-year ones like the MAP test.

Consultant Scott Marion, who led the task force, says these tests can often have very different targets—which isn’t ideal.

“You play a scrimmage before you play the full game,” says Marion. “But the scrimmage has all the same rules. You don’t say, ‘we’re going to play a regular football game, but we’re going to scrimmage with Canadian rules.’ That might not be the best preparation.” 

The Statewide Assessment Task Force report can be reviewed in full on the State Board of Education’s website.

Wyoming is a member of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia (SBAC), a group of states developing one of the two computer-based tests that are being widely adopted by states using the Common Core State Standards. Still, Marion says his task force steered clear of pointing towards a specific test in its recommendations.

“I don’t know of any product right now that meets all the recommendations that we put forth,” says Marion. “And that’s not surprising, because we were not trying to cater to a custom assessment. We were trying to cater to exactly what we wanted. Then that’s part of the request for proposal process. You try to see what company or companies can get closest to what you are proposing.”

Whatever new system is chosen, it would not be in place until at least spring of 2018.

The report was sent to the Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability, which meets next week.