Wyoming is moving closer to the state Legislature’s goal of holding schools accountable for student learning.

A group of educators and the public met in Casper this week and developed the preliminary process that will be used for every school in the state. Each school will have a performance rating.

Schools will receive an overall school rating based on four indicators: achievement, growth, college and career readiness and equity which deals with reducing the number of students who score below state-established standards. Each of those indicators is based on factors such as proficiency assessments and graduation rates.

The rating system won’t go into full effect until the 2013-14 school year at the earliest.

By then, the system will take into account data that has not yet been collected on a statewide basis, according to Paige Fenton Hughes, coordinator for the State Board of Education. For example, one statistic that will be used but has not been collected yet is how many credits toward graduation ninth-grade students have earned.

It likely will take several months for individual schools to know their ratings, she added.

The Legislature tasked the Wyoming Education Accountability Professional Judgment Panel to set the bar for schools to meet the standard. They panel also defined what it means when a school partially meets or exceeds expectations.

The State Board of Education is preparing a report with the panel’s recommendations.

The Wyoming Legislature’s Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability will review the school ratings plan during its next meeting Nov. 13-14.

The law requires schools not meeting expectations to file an improvement plan that addresses areas where performance falls below target levels.

Schools exceeding expectations will file a report so other schools in the state might use them as guides for improvement.

Failure to meet improvement goals for two consecutive years may be grounds for dismissing the school’s principal.

The 2013-14 school year is the earliest the rating system would go into effect, said Dave Nelson of the Legislative Service Office. However, the Legislature could make changes to the act in the spring session that might affect timelines.

The current version of the act also schedules a more controversial second phase set to tie student performance to individual educators in the 2013-14 school year. That date also is subject to further review, said Nelson. The Advisory Committee to the Select Committee on Accountability has been working on an educator evaluation system.

“We’re still struggling with the design,” Nelson said.

Reach education reporter Elysia Conner at 307-266-0593.

or elysia.conner@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter @ElysiaConner.

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