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Wyoming students testing above national average
Wyoming students testing above national average
An education report released Wednesday shows Wyoming students scored higher than national averages on standardized reading and math tests.
An education report released Wednesday shows Wyoming students scored higher than national averages on standardized reading and math tests.

Wyoming students outperformed students nationwide on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, given every two years to fourth- and eighth-grade students. In Wyoming, about 8,900 students took this year’s test across about 210 schools.

“This is one metric that we take pretty seriously in Wyoming,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said. “It’s not the only metric, but it’s a big piece of the puzzle.”

The biennial report is unique because it allows Wyoming both to compare its own test results over time and get an idea of how it stacks up nationally, Balow said.

“There’s no other measure that we look at that gives us that comparative data,” she said.

Wyoming outdid its six neighboring states in fourth-grade math scores, as 87.1% of students scored at or above the basic achievement level. The Equality State tied its neighbors in scores for fourth-grade reading, eighth-grade reading and eighth-grade math.

The data also were categorized to show differences in students’ performance across geographic lines. Whether in a city, town or rural area, Wyoming students outscored national averages.

To obtain federal Title I funding, all 48 school districts in the state must be willing to offer the test to students, who are not required to take the assessment, state Department of Education test coordinator Will Donkersgoed said. Some schools were not included in this year’s NAEP sample.

“The most random thing that happens is which student gets tested at which content area at grade four and grade eight,” Donkersgoed said. “That’s pretty much random in terms of whether the students would be taking a reading assessment versus a mathematics assessment.”

Wyoming also outperformed national averages for special education students, as its average fourth-grade reading and math scores were higher.

“Wyoming’s unique funding structure ensures there is equity no matter who the student is, what their challenging factors might be or where they live,” Balow said. “We can see that loud and clear in our NAEP results.”

For years, the state reimbursed 100% of school districts’ expenses related to special education. In an attempt to reduce those costs, lawmakers placed a cap on special education funding during the 2018 legislative session – something Balow said could hurt the state moving forward.

“The special ed cap is a concern to me, and it’s a concern to Wyoming school districts,” Balow said. “We don’t know what the consequences of the cap will be.”

State Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, said in an interview Wednesday that members of the Joint Education Interim Committee supported a measure removing the cap during their September meeting in Cody, though they didn’t vote on an official piece of legislation. The committee included the measure in a separate recommendation to the Joint Appropriations Committee.

Getting the cap removed via legislation will be a tough task, as Balow noted the Legislature’s inability to lift the cap last session and the two-thirds vote required for a bill to be discussed during budget sessions, such as the one coming up in February.
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Wyoming students testing above national average
Wyoming students testing above national average
An education report released Wednesday shows Wyoming students scored higher than national averages on standardized reading and math tests.
An education report released Wednesday shows Wyoming students scored higher than national averages on standardized reading and math tests. Wyoming students outperformed students nationwide on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, given every two years to fourth- and eighth-grade students. In Wyoming, about 8,900 students took this year’s test across about 210 schools. “This is one metric that we take pretty seriously in Wyoming,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said. “It’s not the only metric, but it’s a big piece of the puzzle.” The biennial report is unique because it allows Wyoming both to compare its own test results over time and get an idea of how it stacks up nationally, Balow said. “There’s no other measure that we look at that gives us that comparative data,” she said. Wyoming outdid its six neighboring states in fourth-grade math scores, as 87.1% of students scored at or above the basic achievement level. The Equality State tied its neighbors in scores for fourth-grade reading, eighth-grade reading and eighth-grade math. The data also were categorized to show differences in students’ performance across geographic lines. Whether in a city, town or rural area, Wyoming students outscored national averages. To obtain federal Title I funding, all 48 school districts in the state must be willing to offer the test to students, who are not required to take the assessment, state Department of Education test coordinator Will Donkersgoed said. Some schools were not included in this year’s NAEP sample. “The most random thing that happens is which student gets tested at which content area at grade four and grade eight,” Donkersgoed said. “That’s pretty much random in terms of whether the students would be taking a reading assessment versus a mathematics assessment.” Wyoming also outperformed national averages for special education students, as its average fourth-grade reading and math scores were higher. “Wyoming’s unique funding structure ensures there is equity no matter who the student is, what their challenging factors might be or where they live,” Balow said. “We can see that loud and clear in our NAEP results.” For years, the state reimbursed 100% of school districts’ expenses related to special education. In an attempt to reduce those costs, lawmakers placed a cap on special education funding during the 2018 legislative session – something Balow said could hurt the state moving forward. “The special ed cap is a concern to me, and it’s a concern to Wyoming school districts,” Balow said. “We don’t know what the consequences of the cap will be.” State Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, said in an interview Wednesday that members of the Joint Education Interim Committee supported a measure removing the cap during their September meeting in Cody, though they didn’t vote on an official piece of legislation. The committee included the measure in a separate recommendation to the Joint Appropriations Committee. Getting the cap removed via legislation will be a tough task, as Balow noted the Legislature’s inability to lift the cap last session and the two-thirds vote required for a bill to be discussed during budget sessions, such as the one coming up in February.



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