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.

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?

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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.

The Wyoming Department of Education recently released the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students – or PAWS – results. In reading, the state improved by about 2 percentage points, but the Arapahoe School on the Wind River Reservation, which serves 350 Native American students, jumped an average of 13 points.

The Wyoming Department of Education has released the 2012 Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students – or PAWS - results. For the second year in a row, the results indicate a statewide rise in scores in math, reading, and science.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Cindy Hill, did not point to specific policies or efforts made by the Wyoming Department of Education, but rather said the results were due to a team effort.

AmeriCorps Interns Join Teton Science Schools for Summer - Jackson

Jul 23, 2012
Teton Science Schools

Teton Science Schools is pleased to welcome 20 AmeriCorps Field Education Interns to campus for one of the busiest summer seasons ever! Hailing from more than 15 colleges and universities and holding diverse degrees including Environmental Studies, Secondary Social Studies Education, Geology, Wildlife Ecology, Anthropology and Theater, these folks make up a dynamic and talented cohort for the Summer 2012 season.

Wyoming Youth Risk results are up and down

Jun 11, 2012

The Centers for Disease Control has released the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior survey.  

The C-D-C finds that the students from Wyoming align with the rest of the nation when it comes to Drug and Alcohol use, and are better than the national average in areas such as physical fitness, risky sexual behavior and diet,  but are worse in areas surrounding violence, unintentional injury and tobacco use. 

An 8-percent budget cut would cost Wyoming's seven community colleges about $9.1 million.

Falling energy revenues has prompted Gov. Matt Mead to order
state agencies to prepare for 8-percent budget cuts for the fiscal
year that starts in July 2013.

James Rose, of the Wyoming Community College Commission, says
each community college board of trustees has the freedom to handle
any funding cuts as it see fit so he can't speak to whether any
faculty and staff positions would be threatened with layoffs.

http://effectsofbullying.net/how-to-stop-bullying-in-the-community/

Laramie County School District One in Cheyenne says a survey conducted earlier this year found that 26 percent of girls and 23 percent of boys say they were bullied two-to-three times a month.  The figures exceed the national average. 

More than 5-thousand students in grades three-through-eight participated in the survey that is part of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program that the district is using.  The results are being used as a baseline as the school district begins new strategies to address bullying. 

The 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP  shows that Wyoming eighth graders continue to outperform the national average test score in science. 

The Wyoming Department of Education says that Wyoming students also increased their science scores from those reported in 2009.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says Wyoming will receive $1.1 million to turn around its persistently lowest-achieving schools.

The money comes from the Education Department's School Improvement Grants program. The funds are part of $535 million provided through the fiscal 2011 budget and made available to states through the program.

The state Education Department has granted
20 school districts waivers from meeting a state law requiring a
16-to-1 student-teacher ratio in kindergarten through third grades.
     The waivers are good for the 2012-13 school year.
     State schools superintendent Cindy Hill says the 16-to-1 ratio
is challenging for some districts but she's confident all will
eventually reach the mandate that was set by the 2011 Legislature
as part its education reform initiative.
     State law allows districts to seek a waiver from the Education

Bob Beck

As most know, school reform is far from novel.  It has been a catch word for many years.  But at a time when Casper was looking a building a new high school, school officials thought that a new approach in education should be part of new construction.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports…

Wyoming’s on-time graduation rate for 2011, a calculation of how many students graduate in four years was 79-point-7 percent. That’s slightly below the goal of 80 percent. 

The Wyoming Department of Education says that  while the 2011 average is slightly less than the year before, the Department is also quick to point out that Wyoming graduated 59 more students than in 2010.  The Department added that 39 of Wyoming’s 48 districts had on-time graduation rates higher than the state average. 

According to statistics over 50-percent of high school students drank in 1995. In 2011 the number had dropped to 34-percent.

For binge drinking, in the mid-90’s nearly 40-percent of high school students participated. Last year under 25-percent reported taking part in binge drinking.

Rodney Wambean is a research scientist with the University of Wyoming. He says based on figures from the mid 90’s had there been no prevention efforts, use among teenagers today would be around 53-percent.

Irina Zhorov

Listen to the story

The Wyoming Farm Bureau runs an Ag Books for Kids program to help kids better understand where their food comes from. Young ranchers are going into classrooms to spread the Ag gospel. Irina Zhorov went to a classroom in Laramie for the story. 

A complicated bill intended to improve how Wyoming tracks education progress has passed the legislature. 

The Education Accountability bill passed following a closed door caucus in the House of Representatives. It was approved with no public debate on the House floor.  

The primary concern of opponents is over how much testing Wyoming will use to both assess student progress and how particular districts or schools are doing.   Earlier in the day the Senate agreed to changes in the bill.

The Wyoming House of Representatives passed a much-debated education accountability measure. 

Wyoming Education Association President Kathryn Valido is optimistic about the bill, but she still isn’t sure what it will do for education.

“That’s the million dollar question, I really don’t know what it’s going to do,” says Valido. “I do know there are some things that we are a little cautious about.  We still are hearing a little too much about testing, testing, testing and not enough about being creative, thinking skills, that whole side of education.”

The Wyoming House is wrapping up work on an enormous education accountability bill.  During second reading debate on the bill, Casper Republican Steve Harshman added a massive amendment that clarifies a number of standards lawmakers want students to meet including writing.  Harshman says it also notes that the ACT will be the way the state will track students who are high school juniors and, overall,he says the bill has clear goals.

The Wyoming House of Representatives has begun debating a major education reform measure.  The House gave initial approval to the Education Accountability Bill that is intended to improve all levels of education.   Various types of testing will be part of the process, but despite concerns by the State Superintendent and some legislators, House Education Chairman Matt Teeters says additional testing is not part of the bill. “My belief, depends on who you talk to, but my belief the amount of testing we will do, also because we are timing PAWS will actually be less,” Teeters said. Teeters says

The State Senate gave final approval to a major Education Accountability measure.  It provides testing and other procedures to keep students, teachers, administrators and parents accountable for a child’s education.  The Senate approved an amendment that would allow school districts to better track how students are doing throughout their entire career. Senator Chris Rothfuss says it’s a different approach. “Tracking a student’s growth year to year -- how good are they one year, the next year, the following year…in K-12.  And that’s what we are trying to track from the growth standpoint,” Ro

The Wyoming Senate has revived a school finance measure with onesignificant change:The bill removes the controversial regional cost adjustment known as the hedonic model that caused the measure to fail in the house.

That provision would remove funding from communities with amenities and could have cost Teton County four million dollars. 

Wyoming ranks twenty-third in the nation in student performance and progress. That’s according to the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 2011 annual Report Card on American Education. While the score rose from twenty-eighth place in 2010, the report accuses Wyoming of misspending a financial windfall—spending a great deal of money with little to show for it.

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