education

May 7th is Teacher Appreciation Day.

Kathy Vetter, President of the Wyoming Education Association, taught elementary through high school students in Wheatland during her 30 years in the classroom. She says that teachers’ responsibilities have changed as students’ own roles have changed. “When I started teaching,” says Vetter, “going to school was the student’s job. Now, that’s only one of many jobs students have, that they have to divide their time amongst—and so there’s more pressure on the teachers and the students.”

Teton county residents are the healthiest in Wyoming. That’s according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute’s County Health Rankings. The least-healthy county was Fremont.

Population Health Institute researcher Kate Konkle says, overall, people in Fremont County died at a younger age, had more sick days, and were less mentally healthy than residents of other counties. Konkle says researchers considered several factors that influence the health of a community, including obesity, access to dentists, and graduation rates.

Wyoming is getting more money from the federal government to improve its lowest-achieving schools.
 
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced today that Wyoming will get $1.1 million in 2013. It's the third year the state has gotten a grant from the department's School Improvement Grant Program.

Nine other states, including Colorado, are also getting money.
 
The department says states will distribute the money to school districts that demonstrate the greatest need for it and show a strong commitment to using it to improve student performance.

March 1st a series of automatic cuts to federal spending—called the sequester—went into effect. Education is one of the areas Wyoming will feel the cuts most acutely. A White House report says the state will lose millions of dollars in school funding.

Jim Rose, interim director of the Wyoming Department of Education, says a 5% cut to the federal education budget would mean special needs students would get less funding.

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 Senate Judiciary Committee passed a pair of gun rights bills with some key changes. 

The Committee reworked a bill that had been intended to threaten federal law enforcement officials with arrest if they tried to enforce federal gun bans in Wyoming.  The committee amended the bill to say that federal officials could carry out their duties, but that local law enforcement could not assist.  Still, the Wyoming Attorney General was given authority to protect citizen gun rights. 

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. 

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 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.

This week Governor Matt Mead is submitting his proposed budget to Wyoming legislators.  The budget will include some spending priorities, but will also feature a wide range of budget cuts, some as high as eight percent.  K-12 education has been viewed by lawmakers as untouchable due to the fact that the state lost an expensive lawsuit over school funding.  But Mead believes some adjustments can be made in the amount of spending that goes into new schools.

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 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 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.

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 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

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. 

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. 

Hedonic Model Fails

Feb 13, 2012

The Wyoming House of Representatives has failed to introduce a bill that would have changed the way that schools are funded.     

The bill adjusted the way districts are funded, but the controversial portion of the bill concerned the Hedonic funding model.  It was a new formula used to compute cost of living adjustments.  If approved, that would 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.

The Wyoming School Boards Association will monitor how school districts handle tougher University of Wyoming admission standards that take effect in 2013.  Association executive director Mark Higdon says the university is doing what it thinks best for the students but the devil will be
in the details.

The new admission standards were approved last Friday by the UW
Board of Trustees. They are aimed at improving the retention and
graduation rates of students who attend the state's only public
four-year university.

Officials at Sheridan Memorial Hospital have been notified that the hospital could be downgraded from a tier one hospital to tier two by the Wyoming School Board Association Insurance Trust otherwise known as WSBAIT. The rating does not reflect the level of service provided by Sheridan Memorial, but rather reflects that educators covered by WSBAIT will now have to pay more out of pocket for services at the hospital than to hospitals rated tier one by the trust.

Wyoming students have improved their math and reading scores on a national assessment test.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress released its 2011 results Tuesday. The test measures math and reading among fourth and eighth graders nationwide.
Wyoming fourth graders scored four points better on average than the national average in both subjects, while eighth graders were five points better on math and six points over on reading.

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