According to the new accountability in education standards for the state of Wyoming, Lovell schools made the cut, with the elementary and middle schools rated overall as meeting expectations and the high school rated as exceeding expectations. The ratings were issued by the Wyoming State Dept. of Education earlier this month, based on the criteria mandated by the Wyoming Accountability in Education Act (WAEA), which became law in 2013.Last year was a pilot year for the new ratings system, but the most recent results are official, creating much more pressure on both students and teachers to meet the new goals. Schools that do not meet the goals are put on an “improvement plan” and, eventually, teachers will be evaluated on how their students perform.
The WAEA was enacted by the Wyoming legislature with the goal of identifying schools that are doing well and those that need help. Each educational level has certain targets that it is expected to meet.
At the high school level the determination of that status is based on a number of factors including participation (how many students took tests in the ACT suite of tests), scores on those tests, overall readiness (graduation rate within a specified time period (4 years), Hathaway eligibility and students entering the 9th grade with 25 percent of credits already under their belts toward graduation.
Schools receive ratings based on these factors and those ratings are being posted online for the first time this year. The overall rating categories include exceeding, partially meeting or not meeting expectations. In the areas of achievement, equity and growth, schools are rated as either “meeting” or “exceeding” predetermined targets. They are also rated on their participation rate.
All three schools met their participation rate, which means the required number of students took certain assessment tests. LES met its targets in achievement and growth and exceeded its targets in equity. LMS met its targets in all three measurements. LHS met its target for graduation rate but exceeded its targets in all other areas.
Schools in Wyoming follow two accountability systems. In addition to the state’s own WAEA system, the schools must also meet federal standards through the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. Over the years, more and more schools across the country are not meeting the standards set by NCLB, because the requirements for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) are increased every year. Students are required to meet AYP standards 100 percent in 2014.
Both LES and LMS did not meet AYP expectations in reading. LES met AYP requirements in math, but LMS did not. LHS met AYP in both reading and math. As a result, Lovell Elementary School is in an “improvement year,” while Lovell Middle School is in a “warning year.”
Critics of the system argue that the expectations have become unrealistic for most schools and most will fail the AYP as a result.
PAWS testing is a statewide practice that shows a comparison of schools in the district to schools across the state grades 3 – 12. All of the schools in Big Horn County School District No. 2, for the most part, exceeded the state averages in both reading and math. Students also receive MAP tests, at the beginning and end of the school year, designed to measure their progress over the course of the school year.
Since students are subjected to a battery of tests, with each test measuring results using a different set of criteria, it’s not uncommon for results to vary though measuring performance in the same subject areas.
By Patti Carpenter