2013 Wyoming's education failures: What our editorials said

2013-12-31T05:00:00Z 2013 Wyoming's education failures: What our editorials saidSTAR-TRIBUNE EDITORIAL BOARD Casper Star-Tribune Online
December 31, 2013 5:00 am  • 

We spend an admirable amount of money on our students in Wyoming. But almost nobody believes that we get our money’s worth in outcomes.

Today’s “2013 Look Back: Wyoming Department of Education undergoes major shift” on Page 1 traces the dramatic changes in managing education at the state level.

Meanwhile at the student level, there’s been a steady drumbeat from our editorial board and from parents across the state in near-despair over downhill trend of our students’ test scores.

In a sampling of editorial opinion, we find calls for “no more excuses” for declining test scores along with applause for some of the educational initiatives that are working for Wyoming’s students.

Aug. 24 “F” for results

Jeers to Wyoming education officials who have come up with more excuses as to why students across the state continue to show declines in standardized testing, for example, the ACT, while other states 130822OPN-editorial-deimprove. For excuse-making, we’ve give them an “A.” For results, an “F.”

Aug. 27 Enough with the excuses for poor test scores

Standardized test performances for Wyoming elementary and middle school students declined in every subject and every grade level from 2012 numbers, according to data released by the state.

The response?

State and Natrona County school officials said the slump in the Performance Assessment of Wyoming Students, or PAWS, was likely a result of the state’s ongoing transition from one set of learning standards to another.

… While it’s convenient to blame Common Core for terrible test results [some people have even gone so far off their rockers as to connect it with the United Nations’ Agenda 21], the fact is another year of deplorable test results means the answer isn’t just a one-time curriculum switch.

The problem lies much deeper. Many of the areas in which students performed poorly were also the areas where students previously had lackluster results.

Poor test scores have become too accepted in the state, based on a variety of excuses.

Gallingly, the root causes of poor test scores are much harder to pin down and don’t lend themselves to simple explanations, or excuses.

This should create a perfect opportunity for new Natrona County School District Superintendent Steve Hopkins to take a true leadership position and help define ways to improve test scores.

No excuses.

Nov. 6 Let’s ready Wyoming’s future ambassadors

In a Casper classroom near you, kids are learning in both English and Chinese.

Paradise Valley Elementary School is three months into its pilot Chinese dual-language immersion program, and initial feedback indicates students and parents are very happy with the program.

… Park Elementary School is eyeing a Spanish dual-language program to start next fall.

… Wyoming has a history of pragmatism, willing to sell its products to willing buyers, wherever they are. The dual-language program sets up Wyoming students to sell the state’s goods in the future. These children are our future ambassadors. Learning the language is a great start, and we applaud and support the school district, its school administrators, teachers and parents for seeing and meeting the need.

Dec. 12 Wyoming students have fun with their thinking caps on

Wyoming wins by embracing better science and technology education. We are a state where the majority of the best jobs are in energy-production, a field that increasingly demands solid grounding in science and technology. We support efforts that open students’ eyes to new ways of thinking and that give them tools to succeed in the economy of the future.

Sometimes those efforts involve robots.

Organizers of the Lego League robotics tournament held Dec. 7 in Casper are on the right track, engaging students from ages 6-18 in using their creativity and finding the knowledge they need to make a successful project.

... We applaud the teachers and volunteers who are giving young citizens a head start toward success in such crucial fields.

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

(5) Comments

  1. Report Abuse
    - January 02, 2014 7:07 am
    I find it pretty sad that the editors of the paper need to publish and editorial reminding their readers as to what their editorials really said.
  2. Jackson
    Report Abuse
    Jackson - December 31, 2013 2:02 pm
    Excellent point about parenting. But we also need to recognize that the system has some deep systemic problems that merely spending money won't resolve. If the system was stronger, deficiencies from the parenting side would be more obvious, and solutions more sought after. Our efforts definitely need to be multi dimensional.
  3. Abby1
    Report Abuse
    Abby1 - December 31, 2013 1:41 pm
    I am tired of hearing how the education system fails our youth.
    How about some parents step it up and become parents instead of always expecting the schools to do it all. Maybe welfare and tax returns should be tied to student performance. If your kid is not in attendance or doing well in school, you don't receive benefits. Children are not an asset, they're a responsibility and education starts at home!
  4. Jackson
    Report Abuse
    Jackson - December 31, 2013 1:38 pm
    Sadly, in Wyoming the main champions of our educational prowess are the Superintendents and Boards that "lead" some of the worst performing districts. They make a lot of self serving claims, and the students and society suffer the consequences of their leadership's failure to walk the talk.
  5. riverfish
    Report Abuse
    riverfish - December 31, 2013 8:00 am
    Them Wyomin' public schools learned me up purty dang desint. (I kid...)
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