CHEYENNE — Tougher University of Wyoming admission standards that took effect this year have caused some Wyoming school districts to rethink their high school course offerings, but it's too soon to judge whether the standards are succeeding in better preparing students for the college.

UW's board of trustees approved the new admissions standards last year with the goal of improving the retention and graduation rates of students who attend the state's only public four-year university.

The admission standards put more emphasis on math, science and foreign language courses taken in high school.

The standards only apply to UW freshman applicants who qualify for "assured admission," or those the university must accept based on their high school academics. High school graduates who don't meet the higher standards can still gain admission under the university's minimum standards, which may include a 300-word essay on an assigned question.

Sara Axelson, vice president of UW student affairs, said Tuesday it's too early to tell whether the new standards have resulted in better prepared incoming freshmen this fall.

Some school district administrators say they haven't seen much change so far at their high schools.

"I don't know that the average student just going in is excessively worried about it," said Mark Stock, superintendent of Laramie County School District 1. The Cheyenne district is the largest in the state with more than 13,000 students.

Stock said the district has been working to improve its mathematics courses to help meet the four-year math requirement in the UW standards.

Donna Little-Kaumo, superintendent of Sweetwater County School District 2 in Green River, said her district already emphasized academics and college preparedness.

When the standards were changed, there was some concern whether small districts could adjust their curriculum to meet the standards.

Jeanie Barent, associate superintendent in charge of curriculum at Johnson County School District 1 in Buffalo, said it's too soon to tell what the effects will be for small schools.

Jonathan Braack, superintendent of Niobrara County School District 1 in Lusk, said the new standards caused his district to "rethink how we're preparing our kids in our high school."

"We're still in the exploratory phase, but in our district we have worked with our board and we're explaining to the community we want to make sure that our kids have the rigorous knowledge base they need when they leave our school system," Braack said.

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