Wyoming Department of Education

Superintendent Elect Jillian Balow has announced the leadership team who will work with her at the Wyoming Department of Education.

Balow named Cheyenne attorney Dicky Shanor her Chief of Staff. Laramie County School District 1’s Brent Young will serve as Balow’s Chief Policy Officer, Laramie County 2’s Brent Bacon was named Chief Academic Officer, and Dianne Bailey will be promoted from within the Department to the role of Chief Financial Officer.

Aaron Schrank

The number of students experiencing homelessness in Wyoming has gone way up in recent years, but there are few resources for homeless Wyomingites—and almost none specific to youth. As Wyoming Public Radio’s Aaron Schrank reports, public schools are on the front lines of identifying and advocating for these vulnerable young people.

Aaron Schrank

Wyoming spends a lot of money educating its children. The state comes in sixth place in per-student spending for K-12. But when you look at outcomes—like graduation rates—we’re stuck in the middle of the pack. Some educators say the key to boosting student performance is to put more focus on children before they start kindergarten.

Test results released Monday by the Wyoming Department of Education show huge drops across the board in the percentage of Wyoming students meeting proficiency for end-of-year state assessments.

For example, just 46 percent of third graders scored “proficient or advanced” on the math portion of the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students—or PAWS test. That’s compared to 84 percent in the previous school year.

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Wyoming high school students who graduated in 2014 did slightly better on the ACT, on average, than those who graduated last year. Performance results released Wednesday by the Wyoming Department of Education show an average ACT score of 20.1 for this year’s test-takers, compared to 19.8 in 2013.

Aaron Schrank

As Wyoming teachers gear up for another school year, there’s more emphasis than ever on improving so-called STEM education in the state. STEM is an acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As Wyoming Public Radio’s Aaron Schrank reports, the number of jobs in these fields is rapidly rising in Wyoming, and the state’s education leaders are working together to prepare.

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The Wyoming Department of Education will hold its fifth annual Native American Education Conference this week in Riverton. The goals of the conference including boosting communication between schools and the Native American families they serve—and integrating tribal culture into curriculum.

Last year, the high school graduation rate for Native American students in Wyoming was 42 percent, compared to 78 percent for all students. Conference coordinator Keja Whiteman says that gap signals the need for this event.

The special legislative committee investigating Wyoming schools Superintendent Cindy Hill has released a final report sharply criticizing her performance. 

The report released Wednesday concludes Hill failed to follow legislative budget directives and intentionally violated the law by requiring permanent Education Department employees to certify she could fire them at any time.

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Students who identified as racial minorities received a greater number of the state’s out-of-school suspensions in the last school year, according to Wyoming Department of Education data.

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State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill is firing back at a legislative report released yesterday alleging she misused public funds and established a culture of fear and intimidation at Wyoming Department of Education.

Hill says the allegations in the report are untrue—and describes the report as a political attack.

"There’s no foundation," said Hill. "There are no facts. This is all hearsay—rewound, republished—for political end. The Governor is hoping to win an election. He’s desperate. And I just smile and say, ‘Really?’"

Dennis Wilkinson via Flickr Creative Commons

The State Board of Education is asking the Wyoming Department of Education to stop work on development of a new set of science standards.

The Department recently formed a science standards review committee of about 50 teachers, administrators, higher education representatives and businesspeople to develop new science standards. That group was supposed to meet several times this summer before presenting suggestions to the Board and public in the fall.

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Nationwide, including Wyoming, states are working to build huge databases that can track students from preschool all the way into the workforce. In the brave new world of big data, the thought is—more information means smarter education policy decisions and improved learning. But some parents worry that these systems will go too far.

At Laramie County Community College, a classroom full of people is talking about control groups and independent variables. It’s not as exciting as it sounds, but it is important.

Bill Winney

A former US Navy Submarine commander is running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Republican Bill Winney says training and education were big parts of his job in the Navy, and that the Wyoming Department of Education is in need of the type of leadership he would bring to the job.

U.S. Department of Education via Flickr Creative Commons

High school graduation rates in Wyoming dropped for the fourth year in a row, according to data released Monday by the Wyoming Department of Education. 

About 78 percent of Wyoming high school students graduated on time during the 2012 - 2013 school year, down from more than 80 percent four years ago.

In the same period, Laramie 1 school district in Cheyenne, the largest district in the state, saw its graduation rate fall from near 77 percent to below 72 percent.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill will soon be returning to lead the Wyoming Department of Education.  Unless you’ve been under rock, you know that the Superintendent had her ability to oversee the department removed by the legislature and the governor last year.

A former classroom teacher and former Wyoming Department of Education employee has announced that she will run for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Republican Jillian Balow says she has four goals.

“Enhancing local control in the school districts; increasing collaboration across the state with multiple stakeholders; empowering parents to be more involved with education; and I’m also tackling the political issues that have dominated education in Wyoming.”

Wyoming’s fourth and eighth grade students outperformed the national average in reading and mathscores in the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAPE scores.

The test is administered every two years. Wyoming did especially well in 4th grade math where it improved by three points from 2011 and five points from 2009.   State Education Director Rich Crandall is pleased.

Wyoming’s newly appointed Director of Education Rich Crandall is busy getting acquainted with Wyoming’s Education system.  Crandall began his new duties August first. 

He was heavily involved in education as a politician in Arizona and he’s now running the Wyoming Department of Education and working with legislators to implement education policy in the state. 

NEW ED DIRECTOR - Gov. Matt Mead has selected an Arizona state senator to run the Wyoming Education Department.

Mead late Wednesday afternoon announced his choice of Richard Crandall, who co-owns two nutritional service companies.

The Education Department has a budget of about $1 billion a year and employs about 150 people.

Wyoming Department of Education

Recent leadership and policy changes have caused upheaval in the Wyoming Department of education, but the collection and processing of data has been insufficient for years. An audit of the WDE’s Information Management unit is showing that there are major flaws in the system, and that an overhaul of the department is in order. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez reports.

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.
 

The number of students receiving free and
reduced-price meals at Wyoming public schools increased this year
even though the state's economy has been steadily improving.
     Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Education show that 37
percent of students in Wyoming receive breakfasts and lunches
subsidized by the federal government.
     The 33,052 students qualifying for free and reduced-price meals
represent a 2 percent increase over the 2010-11 school year.
     Nutrition program supervisor Tamra Jackson of the state

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