Wyoming is replacing its current statewide standardized test, and is cutting ties to a testing group in order to avoid a potential conflict of interest as it selects a new vendor.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is one of the main providers of multi-state tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Wyoming has been a member of the consortium since 2010. While it doesn't currently use the SBAC test, the state will likely consider it, among other options, in the coming months.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow says leaving SBAC ensures the new test is selected through an open process.
“That’s why we’re going through the bidding process—to make sure that we get the most appropriate assessment for our students,” says Balow. “But if we have loyalties or affiliations to one assessment or another, we can’t always ensure that.”
Wyoming currently uses the Proficiency Assessment for Wyoming Students—or PAWS. This year, lawmakers passed legislation putting new requirements on testing. Under the law, testing should take up less than one percent of class time, be comparable to other states and available online if possible.
“We have an opportunity to go out and have companies bid on a customizable or configurable test for our students that also allows us to compare our students from state to state--and can be done in a way that minimally intrudes on instructional time,” Balow says.
Wyoming will put out a request for proposals to testing companies this fall. A new assessment system is expected to be in place for the 2017-2018 school year.