The work to implement Common Core State Standards and to consider similar national standards in science is ongoing in Wyoming despite legislative battles to halt these national trends in the state.
Wyoming Department of Education officials spoke Monday with teachers at a school improvement conference in Casper about the standards and a new test to measure student progress under them.
Meanwhile, the Wyoming Legislature passed a budget that included an amendment meant to prohibit the state from adopting national standards in science.
The measure is intended to stymie the state's progress in considering the Next Generation Science Standards, a set of science standards developed by 26 states and released in 2013, according to the amendment's author, Rep. Matt Teeters, R-Lingle.
Effective immediately, it prohibits the state Board of Education and the Wyoming Department of Education from financing any further review or adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards.
A review of the state's science standards started in 2012 and is ongoing. The standards were last significantly updated in 2003, Jim Verley, science and fine arts content specialist for the Wyoming Department of Education, said.
Last year, a committee of about 30 Wyoming teachers and administrators unanimously recommended the Next Generation Science Standards to the Board of Education, Verley said.
Verley has presented the national science standards to the Board of Education three times. The board has not decided whether to adopt the standards.
"We've had robust discussion about them," Verley said. "Some board members have concerns; some are enthusiastic."
The Next Generation Science Standards emphasize applying science skills, specifically in engineering.
The standards also reference Common Core language arts and math standards that correspond with individual science standards, to encourage teachers to connect what students learn in science with what they learn in math and language arts.
"Teachers who are doing good science, who are good teachers, are already doing a lot of this," Verley said.
The Next Generation Science Standards are among a growing wave of national standards, which, along with the Common Core State Standards, establish common expectations among all students in the United States whose states decide to adopt them.
Some lawmakers are uneasy about standards and tests that originate outside the state.
A bill to prohibit Wyoming from participating in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a multistate group developing tests to measure student progress under the Common Core State Standards, died after not being considered on the House floor last month in Cheyenne.
Forty-eight Wyoming teachers wrote and submitted 300 questions to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, Tammy Schroeder, test development program manager for the Wyoming Department of Education, said.
More Wyoming teachers will evaluate the final pool of questions to be included on the group's field test, Schroeder said, which will be piloted in many Wyoming schools this spring in anticipation of a possible 2016 start date for the test.
As the plan stands, Wyoming will continue its current contract with testing vendor Educational Testing Service to administer the PAWS, or Performance Assessment for Wyoming Students, through spring 2015, she said. The earliest the state could use the Smarter Balanced tests would be spring 2016.
"We're going to do what the Legislature tells us to do," Schroeder said.