The Wyoming Department of Education has released Wyoming's student assessment test results for the 2012-13 school year reflecting an overall drop compared to last year. The test known as PAWS assesses students in grades 3-8 for proficiency in English and math. Students in grades 4 and 8 are also tested in science. For the first time in 2012-13 11th grade students took the ACT instead of PAWS. Statewide results for that group showed an increase in achievement. Governor Matt Mead said the lower PAWS results statewide are a cause for concern and require further attention on a number of levels.
"These test results get our attention. Kids deserve the best education and we need to make sure they are ready for college or a career. I also believe all parents, educators and citizens want an outcome that matches our significant investment in schools," Governor Mead said. "Locally, there are successes we should celebrate and scores that are higher than 2010-11 results. However, a conclusion on the quality of our schools cannot be drawn from a single year's results. Just as a single year decline should not be attributed to any single factor, neither should a single year increase." Governor Mead notes that the best way to evaluate schools is to look at more than one measure and look at results over time.
"I encourage parents and community members to take a hard look at local results. What are the trends over time, the strengths and weaknesses? Most importantly, these results should spark a community conversation between parents, teachers, educational professionals, business owners and the general public," Governor Mead said.
At the state level, Governor Mead is working with the Wyoming Department of Education to identify strengths in schools and build on these across the state as well as identify struggling schools and develop plans to assist these districts. "These are the key provisions of the state's accountability laws and are now being implemented," Governor Mead said.
Governor Mead will also work with the Wyoming Department of Education, Wyoming State Board of Education, Wyoming educators and the Legislature to review the assessment system. "This review is long overdue. We should be able to find agreement on an assessment system that is reliable, useful for all involved and affordable," Governor Mead said.
Governor Mead said this analysis will review as many options as possible and look at how they stack up against Wyoming's PAWS test. Wyoming is back on track to institute a first-ever school accountability model and the assessment test is an important part of that work.