Education

WPM is committed to covering education issues in Wyoming in a thoughtful and thorough way. This page captures all education-related stories we've aired and updates you on broad issues.

The Wyoming Senate has given final approval to a bill that would focus accountability in education on individual schools in the state.  The statewide education accountability phase one bill would establish benchmarks for schools. If schools don’t meet those benchmarks, they will have to develop a school improvement plan.  Senator Chris Rothfuss says that lawmakers hope to measure student performance in coming months.

The State Senate continues working on a bill that would require schools to be accountable for student performance.  Under the bill, each school in the state would need to meet a pre-determined performance rating. 

Senator Charles Scott successfully amended the bill to say that a principal could be fired if his or her school falls short of that rating two years in a row.

“All these accountability structures are very fine, but when the day’s over you gotta do something if the performance is not adequate,” Scott says.

Max Klingensmith / Creative Commons

The Wyoming Senate has given initial approval to a bill that would rate schools on student performance. 

The school accountability measure was amended by the Senate to say all schools that do not exceed pre-determined academic targets would have to develop improvement plans. 

The House version of the bill said meeting targets was sufficient.  

Senator Chris Rothfuss of Laramie says the Senate is shooting for a higher bar. 

Wyoming Department of Education

After hearing from whistleblowers and attorneys that there may have been irregularities in spending within the State Department of Education, the Wyoming House of Representatives has set aside money to perform a whistleblower audit of the department. 

Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau says Superintendent Cindy Hill has denied that money was spent improperly, but he says the legislature is obligated to determine if there is any truth to the charges and the House will ask for a complete audit.       

Topic of the Week

What do you think of the bill that would allow guns in Wyoming schools and colleges?

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

  Governor Matt Mead has signed into law a bill that strips powers from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. In turn Superintendent Cindy Hill has filed suit, claiming that the new law is unconstitutional. 

Mead also announced that Community College Director Jim Rose will serve as the interim Director of Education. 

Mead said he did a lot of soul-searching before agreeing to sign the bill.

“I don’t think anybody would view this as a celebration, I think we would view it as a duty we must go forward on for the kids in Wyoming,” Mead says.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

After two weeks of discussion, the Wyoming Legislature has voted to remove some duties from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  The legislation awaits the signature of Governor Matt Mead. 

The bill would hand over administration of the State Department of Education to a Governor appointed Director of Education. 

Opponents of the bill once again complained that they were going against voters who supported the election of Superintendent Cindy Hill by a two-to-one margin. 

Rock Springs Republican Stephen Watt again asked the House to slow down.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming House of Representatives has joined the State Senate in passing a bill that would strip a number of powers from the State Superintendent and give them to a Governor appointed Director of Education.  The Superintendent would remain on state boards and commissions with the other four elected officials.  But the new Director would run the State Department of Education.  Top lawmakers crafted the legislation right before the legislative session; and many believe that the legislature is moving too quickly.  But some observers say the move is overdue.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck

The Wyoming House of Representatives defeated a pair of amendments during the second day of debate on a bill that would remove some duties from the State Superintendent and give them to a governor-appointed Director of Education.  

Jackson Republican Keith Gingery asked for $20,000 to be set aside to allow State Superintendent Cindy Hill to fight her loss of power in court.  During that discussion Gingery expressed disappointment about the tone of the debate on the issue.

The Wyoming House of Representatives has given initial approval to a bill that would remove key powers from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and give them to an appointed Education Director. 

The House debated the bill for almost two hours. Many representatives expressed concern that the legislature was taking power away from the voters and others were concerned about how quickly the legislature is moving to pass the bill. Lyman Republican Allen Jaggi says he’s heard from constituents who share those concerns.

The House Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to endorse a bill that would remove duties from the State Superintendent and transfer them to an appointed Director. Lawmakers say that Superintendent Hill has not met deadlines and has delayed execution of duties such as creating education accountability programs. 

The Wyoming legislature wraps up its second week today.  Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck is covering the session and joins us now to talk about lawmakers' attempts to restructure how the state's schools are governed.

The Wyoming Senate has given final approval to a bill that takes power away from the state superintendent and creates an appointed director to run the Department of Education. 

The Senate voted 20-10 to approve the measure.  Senator Hank Coe blames the move on failures by the State Superintendent Cindy Hill to follow through on legislative mandates, a charge Hill denies.  Coe says Hill has lacked management skills.  He says that’s led to a 40-percent turnover.

An effort to require all students to take four years of math will be considered by the State Senate.  The Senate Education Committee recommended passage of the measure sponsored by Laramie Democrat Chris Rothfuss. He says too many students who go on to attend college either struggle or have to take remedial classes.  The bill will require students to pass four years of math-based classes in order to graduate.

The State Senate continues working on a bill that would change the way education is governed in Wyoming. 

The bill would lead to the appointment of a State Education Director, who would oversee such things as education accountability and school funding.

But Senator Curt Meier amended the legislation, restoring a number of duties to the State Superintendent’s office.  Under the amendment, the Superintendent would remain a voting member on the State Board of Education. 

A bill that would remove powers from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and transfer them to an appointed Director has received initial approval from the State Senate. 

The Senate approved the bill 19-10 after a lengthy debate including comments from some Senators who were concerned that the bill could actually hurt education instead of improve it. 

The Co-Chairmen of the legislature's Joint Education Committee are sponsoring legislation to create an appointed, Cabinet-level position to administer the Department of Education. The bill would allow the Governor to appoint a director for the Education Department. It would not eliminate the superintendent position, but modify the position’s responsibilities and lessen its power. The legislature comes after tense discussions in the Capitol about Superintendent Cindy Hill’s effectiveness in her position.

But Co-sponsor Representative, Matt Teeters, says this is an old problem.

The Arapahoe School is seeing continued improvements

Dec 19, 2012

Credit Alan Rogers / Casper Star-TribuneFourth-grader Alex Behan, right, raises his hand to answer a question during a reading exercise Thursday in Connie Vincent's class at Arapahoe School.Edit | Remove

After the Arapahoe School on the Wind River Reservation saw an uptick in math and reading scores in the state PAWS results this summer, the school has continued to see improvements.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

A legislative committee has voted to take responsibilities away from the State Department of Education and give them to the State Board of Education. 

After the department missed deadlines for developing a model that would measure education performance in the state, the Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability voted to give the State Board of Education charge of the model.  State Superintendent Cindy Hill was also stripped of her membership on the state board. 

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill says she is looking forward to addressing a legislative committee next week following a report that was critical of her department.

The Legislative Service Office report said that errors and communication problems led to delays in the Department of Education’s ability to provide necessary federal information and required state accountability data.  Hill says the report is inaccurate. 

Cindy Hill Superintendent

State Superintendent Cindy Hill Interview

A group of parents are trying to get dual-language immersion programs set up in Casper. They’d like two elementary schools to start these programs, and the focus would be on Spanish and Chinese.

Thea True-Wells is the parent who’s spearheading the effort. She joins me now to talk about it, along with Ann Tollefson, an outside consultant who has evaluated dual language programs in other states.    

To listen to the November 30, 2012 Wyoming Open Spaces program, please click here.

How would you go about improving K-12 education in Wyoming?

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

A report by consultants hired by the Legislature gives the Wyoming Department of Education poor marks in implementing state education reforms.
 
The report says the agency has failed in some of its responsibilities and hindered other entities involved in the state's initiative to better prepare its public school students for college and careers.
 
 The report blames much of the agency's failings on loss of too many key personnel in the last two years.
 

A group called America’s edge says many Wyoming students lack the education they may need for future jobs.  

Martha Brooks of the national jobs group says that there is a looming skills gap for all workers in the state.  Brooks is telling state leaders that many science and technology jobs will soon be available in the state, but her group questions whether Wyoming students will be able to fill those jobs.  She says there are warning signs right now.

Under No Child Left Behind benchmarks, 14 Wyoming School Districts and 180 schools failed to make what is called Adequate Yearly Progress.  That is a large increase from last year, but Wyoming’s Department of Education says that does not necessarily mean there is cause for alarm. 

Diane Frazer oversees A-Y-P for the Wyoming Department of Education and she says the issue is that benchmarks for proficiency are higher than they have ever been.  One thing she stresses is that when you look at A-Y-P and other measurement tools, Wyoming students are actually doing very well.

Courtesy of Pinedale Online

Pinedale, Wyoming has been selected by an organization as one of the nation’s 100 best communities for young people. 

America’s Promise Alliance recognizes local community programs and initiatives that are aimed at supporting youth.  Pinedale was recognized for having safe places for youth, for its youth fitness and recreation programs, overall improvements in education and for its adult volunteer program.  

Teacher Jasper Warembourg has been in the community for 20 years and he says the adult input is amazing.

Wyoming’s kids will have healthier school lunches this year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture teamed up with the Institute of Medicine to develop menu standards that are more nutritious. The biggest changes include calorie and sodium limits, more whole-grain foods, more fruits and vegetables, and a ban on trans fats.

Wyoming Department of Education’s Nutrition Program Supervisor, Tamra Jackson, says the changes are positive.   

Wyoming ACT score remains the same

Aug 23, 2012

For the second straight year, Wyoming students scored 20-point-3 out of a possible 36 in the college entrance exam known as the ACT.  The national average was 21-point-one.  

Wyoming Education officials say the score is not disappointing because all high school juniors in the state are required to take the test, while only college bound students take the test in 42 other states. 

Paul Williams is part of Wyoming’s assessment team.  He says Wyoming had mixed results.

The U.S. Department of Education has informed the Wyoming Department of Education that it should continue administering the state Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students -- or PAWS -- test for high school juniors next year.

The Wyoming Legislature earlier this year directed the state Education Department to discontinue the PAWS test for juniors and to use results from the ACT instead.

Pages