The transition from the No Child Left Behind Act to the Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) has been a multi-year affair, and Wyoming is nearing the completion of the process.
The federal law regarding K-12 education granted states the power to create their own plans for educational success pending final approval from the U.S. Department of Education. The feds gave Wyoming the green light in January of 2018 on the condition that the state makes two changes to its plan.
First off, Wyoming's ESSA plan needed to incorporate the results from WY-TOPP — the new statewide assessment — into its long-term goals for achievement. The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) also had to better define a process for tracking teacher effectiveness.
"Wyoming had not defined what an effective or ineffective teacher was," said Kari Eakins, the communications director for the WDE. "So we didn't have any data around that."
Eakins said the newly defined criteria for teacher effectiveness and student performance on statewide assessments aim to be both ambitious and attainable.
"We want them to be ambitious because we want our schools to continue to improve, so that we know that we are doing the best that we can for our students," said Eakins. "But we also very much want them to be attainable. Under 'No Child Left Behind' it was just 100 percent of students needed to be proficient, and there were several schools that gave up on that right away because they knew they weren't going to be able to get it."
Eakins said the WDE wants to make sure the goals under ESSA work for the people of Wyoming. Comments can be submitted by mail, online or at one of three public meetings. More information can be found here.