Wyoming board forwards school benchmarks to legislators

2012-10-10T19:00:00Z 2012-10-18T20:36:22Z Wyoming board forwards school benchmarks to legislatorsBy ELYSIA CONNER Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

A report presented to the Wyoming State Board of Education on Tuesday detailed a panel’s recommendations for new education standards. The benchmarks will rate schools across the state and aim to hold schools and teachers responsible for student learning.

Legislators will review the recommendations, finalized last week by a group of more than two dozen educators and community participants, next month.

“I expect to see a work-in-progress with ideas of how we’re going to proceed,” said Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody.

Wyoming Department of Education officials are compiling a trial model of the rating system with the panel’s recommended benchmarks, said John Masters, who leads the department’s accountability effort. The department will give the information to the state school board this week, he added.

The model will show how a statewide rating system can work and give an estimate of how the standards could impact schools, Masters said.

“I hope what we’re finding out is that there’s data out there that can be used for more information that will help inform policy makers,” Masters said.

Once finalized, the public will also be able to use the model and may find it useful, said Paige Fenton Hughes, coordinator for the state school board.

But "at this point, it's just very preliminary," she said.

The Wyoming Accountability in Education Act, approved by the Wyoming Legislature in March, calls for a system to rate schools based on four criteria -- achievement, growth, college and career readiness and equity -- to start next school year.

The act requires the Wyoming Education Accountability Professional Judgment Panel to determine school standards and cutoffs for meeting or exceeding expectations.

To meet targets for achievement, the panel decided that 75 percent of a school’s students must score at or above proficient on PAWS or PAWS-ALT, and 87 percent must score at least proficient for the school to be classified as exceeding the target.

For growth, schools must improve reading and math scores at a 50th-percentile average rate compared with the other state schools.

The 50th percentile designation means students in the school would have to show improvement at a rate equal to the average of all the students in the state who started at the same level they did. If the students did that, the school would meet the standard.

They must improve on pace with the 60th percentile to be considered exceeding the target.

To meet the target for college and career readiness, schools must graduate at least 85 percent of their high school students within four years, or at least 20 percent of the students must achieve the readiness benchmark on ACT tests. To exceed the target, they must meet both criteria.

To meet the equity standard, schools must reduce their proportion of students who score below basic on state assessments from one year to the next by 6 percent. They must reduce the number by 20 percent to exceed the target.

The panel also created a system to give an overall school rank based on a combination of the above four indicators.

The board will include the recommendations in a report due to the Legislative Service Office by Oct. 15.

The Legislature’s Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability will review the report during a Nov. 13-14 meeting.

Reach education reporter Elysia Conner at 307-266-0593 or elysia.conner@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter @ElysiaConner

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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