• Degenfelder: We must do better
By Hannah Shields
Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Via- Wyoming News Exchange
CHEYENNE — Proficiency rates among Wyoming students increased in all content areas during the 2022-23 school year, according to results from the state’s standardized tests, but still remained slightly below pre-pandemic levels.
Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder called for action during a news conference Thursday morning, where she said proficiency scores were 1-2% below the 2018-19 results.
“We must do better,” Degenfelder said. “While our state standards and assessment scores are set intentionally high, and we do assess all students, including those with IEPs or learning disabilities, proficiency below 50% in any content area or grade is not good enough.”
The state superintendent said several schools did “increase achievement above the pre-pandemic levels,”with nearly 38% doing so in English Language Arts, 44% doing so in math and about 48% doing so in science.
Overall,Wyoming schools saw a steady increase in school performance ratings, with 26% of schools increasing, 21% decreasing and just over half of schools remaining the same.
“While we celebrate the majority of schools improving or remaining constant in their overall performance, we must do better for those students in the 21% of schools that declined in performance and those that remained in the ‘not meeting expectations’ category,” Degenfelder said.
LCSD1 test results
According to the Wyoming Department of Education data, 21 of 37 schools in Laramie County School District 1 saw an increase in students scoring proficient or advanced in mathematics on Wyoming’s Test of Proficiency and Progress (WY-TOPP) in 2022-23. An additional 19 LCSD1 schools demonstrated growth in the percentage of students scoring proficient or above in English and Language Arts.
Test results district wise indicated a slight percentage-point increase in math and English for grades six and 10, but a slight decrease in both those subjects for grades five and seven.
“When you see your scores change year by year, I always exercise real caution in attributing why it turned out the way it did,” said Steve Newton, director of instruction and acting superintendent for LCSD1. “It’s a good start of a story; it’s a terrible end of a story.”
Newton said the test results tell school officials where to start looking, such as with different ways to teach math skills. For the current 2023-24 academic year, LCSD1 is piloting a new math program in select classrooms for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
District leaders also are working to understand how to effectively teach literacy skills in a way that results in higher retention rates among students, he said.
“It’s going to have a really powerful effect,”Newton said. “The more you focus in on the skill level — with anything in life — the better you get.”
Other local results
The district’s two public charter schools, PODER Academy and PODER Academy Secondary School, were among the 12 institutions statewide that maintained a rating of “exceeding expectations” for a third year in a row. They were the only two schools with this distinction in Cheyenne, according to a news release from PODER Academy.
“We all know that teaching students during COVID19 was a challenging endeavor, and we are proud to say that our academic achievement did not decrease,”Marcos Martinez, CEO and founder of PODER, said in a statement.
Average ACT composite scores for high school students districtwide improved from 18.4 to 18.6, and additional increases were seen in English, from 16.8 to 17; reading, from 19 to 19.6; and science, from 18.9 to 19.3.
“Whenever you see an increase, that’s always a good start,”Newton said.“It is always a cause for celebration when our scores go up.”