Wyoming Liberty Group
Wyoming K-12 school personnel reportedly feel they’ve been required to “teach to the test” for a number of years now. Our previous article documented how, overall, the state is not excelling at doing that though a few individual school districts scoring well and a handful are showing improvement. This article focuses on the improvement (or lack of it) districts posted regardless of their overall level of achievement. It uses Wyoming’s PAWS (Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students) data so we’re talking only about our kids, our schools and our test.
Wyoming K-12 schools have felt required to “teach to the test” for a number of years now. Wyoming Liberty Group wrote earlier about how the state overall has fallen short of success in spite of those efforts. Here we report on those shortcomings, and rare successes, by individual school districts. We use Wyoming’s PAWS (Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students) data so we’re talking only about our kids, our schools and our test.
A number of our legislators claim we cannot cut education spending because we don’t want to settle for mediocrity. Please see the graph below of 2016 ACT® results for states where 100 percent of 11th graders take the test (100% ACT states). From it, a disinterested observer could easily conclude that mediocrity is precisely what Wyoming has achieved.
What will it take to convince us our K-12 education system is not a success and needs to be held responsible for its failures? We recently got the latest 11-Grade ACT® scores from the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE). They show basically two-thirds of our kids failed to reach proficiency – just as in 2015-16.
What do PAWS, NAEP & ACT® have in common besides being arcane acronyms? They are all K-12 education testing systems, each testing different age groups by subject, with the object of assessing what kids know and can do. They’ve also become canaries in the coal mine telling us our education systems and theories are dangerously ineffective.
Wyoming Liberty Group attended the July 25 meeting of the legislature’s Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration. It was interesting to see how much of a closed loop the process will be. The consultants engaged to do the work exclusively define interested stakeholders as elected government officials and employees plus employees of and lobbyists for the giant Education-Industrial complex. Accordingly, it’s likely to be simply an echo chamber of ghosts of recalibrations past with reverberations of “send us your money.”
Certain Wyoming legislators want our schools to compare favorably with the best schools in the country. Before we compare ourselves to the Joneses, though, we need to get our heads out of the sand and look honestly at how poorly we performed against our own state benchmark as measured by the testing system Wyoming’s experts chose, “PAWS”.