- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming students generally scored better this year on statewide tests designed to measure their proficiency in math, science and reading, according to test results released Thursday by the state Education Department.

“This is a piece of the puzzle and certainly isn’t the end all, be all. But we are pretty pleased with the results,” state schools Superintendent Jillian Balow said.

The Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students, or PAWS, tests Wyoming students in reading and mathematics in grades three through eight, and in science for grades four and eight.

Scores from tests administered this past spring indicate proficiency rates increased across most grade levels and content areas compared with 2015 scores.

Balow noted in particular improved scores in fourth-, fifth- and seventh-grade math, fourth-grade reading and fourth-grade science.

The percentage of students proficient in fourth-grade reading increased from 60 percent in 2015 to 65 percent this year. Seventh-grade math proficiency increased from 43 percent to 49 percent, and fourth-grade students also raised their science proficiency from 51 percent to 54 percent.

The only decrease between 2015 and 2016 was in third-grade reading scores, from 61 percent proficient to 58 percent proficient.

“I just want to give a shout out first and foremost for improvement to our school districts and the teachers and students and families that work hard every day to make sure that their students are performing well both in the classroom and on assessments,” Balow said.

Having consistency in testing, curriculum and education standards over the last couple of years is one key to the improved scores, she said.

About two years ago, Wyoming lawmakers undertook an ambitious K-12 education reform effort that included changing statewide tests.

However, the state is working on new science standards and a new statewide assessment in 2018.

Balow also said her department is planning how to implement the revamped federal education law. But she believes the new law, which replaced the widely criticized No Child Left Behind Act, will have little impact on Wyoming’s assessment, Balow said.


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