SBE discusses Wyoming Standards audit process

A. Marie Hamilton
Posted 11/30/22

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming State Board of Education (SBE) discussed its process in doing a Wyoming Standards audit in K-12 education earlier this month.

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SBE discusses Wyoming Standards audit process


CHEYENNE – The Wyoming State Board of Education (SBE) discussed its process in doing a Wyoming Standards audit in K-12 education earlier this month.

In a 63-page draft report to the SBE, Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) Director of Standards and Assessments Laurie Hernandez stated some 300 Wyoming standards were in the process of being audited by the state department following an SBE resolution passed in October requiring the state to reduce the load of state standards.

In its October meeting, SBE unanimously approved a resolution which would significantly reduce the number of standards districts, administrators and teachers would be required to teach to in an continuing effort to bring “meaningful learning experiences” to classrooms as heard through both Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon’s Reimagining and Innovating the Delivery of Education (RIDE) Advisory Group and the SBE’s Profile a Graduate listening sessions.

Since that meeting, WDE has been working toward providing solutions which could reduce the total amount of standards currently required in Wyoming by at roughly 1/3.

In its draft document for SBE consideration, Hernandez illustrated a preliminary, unfinished proposal which demonstrated the department is looking at revising, condensing, combining and or removing roughly 73 science standards, 129 mathematics standards and a handful of computer science and physical education courses. The department said it would look at English Language Arts (ELA) and History standards as well, but not necessarily for the purpose of revising, condensing, combing or removing at this point.

In a memo presented by Hernandez from WDE Chief Policy Officer Wanda Maloney, the state department wrote, “The State Board of Education (SBE) requested the Wyoming Department of of Education (WDE) work with the Curriculum Directors’ Advisory Committee (CDAC) to review a Standards Audit Plan that followed the resolution passed by the SBE at its Oct. 21, 2022 meeting, and to evaluate options and impact considerations.”

Maloney wrote, “The CDAC met on Nov. 14, 2022, to discuss the SBE October resolution and SBE Standards Audit Plan and to provide feedback to the SBE for their consideration.”

Adding, “In attendance with the CDAC were SBE members Chairman Ryan Fuhrman and Dr. Mark Matthern, along with SBE Coordinator Dr. Diana Clapp.”

Prior to the discussion, WDE Standards/Assessments Director Laurie Hernandez presented the agenda items and prepared the documents to assist the discussion which included:

Federal and state standards requirements;

Determining the appropriate weighting of each content area by grand level and band;

Provided possible options for the new standards rollout and the impact(s) to be considered;

Provided mapping alignment of NAEP (National Assessment of Education Progress) framework, ACT standards and POG (Portrait of a Graduate) Competencies to the proposed WYCPS (Wyoming Content and Performance Standards).

In terms of federal and state requirements, the team asked two questions about each standard it is auditing: what are the federal requirements for the minimum of state standards; and what are the federal requirements for the state assessment – what standards have to be assessed?

The group asked eight questions about each standard it is auditing in terms of weighting and amount of time to teach content areas. Those questions include:

What can be taught with the available time; what is needed and doable?;

What is the appropriate time to instruction across content areas and grade levels and bands?;

What differences of approach and time are there as it relates to progresses over time in both elementary vs. secondary settings;

What considerations must be taken into account when determining whether percentage of time should be identified for each content area in each grade level?;

How can teachers consider what is taught and learned instead of needs vs. wants?;

Should K-2 focus on basic foundations for reading, writing and math solely?;

What core or non-core areas make up the differences in instruction and focus in the District Assessment System (DAS)?;

What research and evidence-based decisions are needed?

In terms of how to rollout new standards, the team discussed how to keep longitudinal assessment data and which data can be lost. It also examined implementation timelines for districts and impacts to the current systems in terms of curriculum, instruction and the DAS system. The team also reviewed a number of options for a uniform system statewide, and how to allow districts to choose priority standards. The team aimed to keep standards in alignment with standardized testing, such as ensuring standards match the requirements of ACT and WYCPS.

Ultimately, Maloney wrote the SBE’s resolution included five recommendations.

“For the state-assessed content areas (math, ELA and science), we recommend adopting a reduced set of standards and having aligned CS (content standards) and PS (performance standards),” Maloney wrote in her explanation. “To support understanding of the WYCPS, benchmarks can be defined at the discretion of audit teams and should comprise the supporting standards.”

Adding, “These would be forward facing to support instruction but would not serve as PS and should not be assessed in the DAS or on the state assessment. We suggest that the standards committee should be strategic in defining the benchmarks that are aligned with these PS so as to not overwhelm teachers or to interrupt sustained access to and mastery of the PS.”

The second recommendation Maloney recommended was, “For the non-assessed areas, we recommend having a focused set of CS and a smaller subset of PS.”

“It may be appropriate in some grade levels/bands to not have PS, for example, perhaps in K-2 non-core areas,” Maloney wrote as the third recommendation.

“We also encourage committees to review and consider instruction time and staffing needs/availability when making decisions,” Maloney stated as the fourth recommendation.

Lastly, as the fifth recommendation, Maloney said, “The standards work with this resolution should not produce a rewrite of the standards nor a ‘mushing together’ of a set of standards.”

The WDE revised several Wyoming Standards in 2018 and Hernandez stated the department felt the standards wording set at that time reflects the level of education the state hopes to teach to K-12 students.

WDE advised the SBE board it could take a considerable amount of time to implement such a change and could take some districts two to three years to fully implement a shift depending on the load of change within the standards.

“If several content areas are changed simultaneously, a phased-in approach may be needed to roll out the efforts instead of having several content areas changed and being remapped all at once,” Maloney wrote and Hernandez reiterated to SBE board members.

The WDE identified two areas of opportunity when seeking to reduce the number of standards currently required in the state. Those two areas include taking a survey from districts on local priority standards and identifying content committees to review performance standards for use as the state standards.

The WDE also reminded SBE of three statutory requirements in the state which could prohibit and limit some of the effort the board is attempting to undertake as part of the governor’s desire to reduce the amount of standards teachers must teach and assess.

Hernandez presented SBE board members with a proposed timeline of being able to complete the lengthy tasks.

The next step in its audit process includes a two day, in-person meeting in Casper to examine current math and science standards with the SBE, WDE and other stakeholders. That meeting is expected to happen in mid-December and again in early-January. During the two day meeting, participants will examine how current standards are mapped to ACT and NAEP standards; examine how current standards are mapped to Profile competencies; examine profile competency descriptors; review results of local prioritization of standards from district surveys; and examine results of the SRC response to priority standards as state standards.

The first two-day meeting will examine standards for math and science; the second meeting will examine standards for health, computer science, physical education, fine arts and performing arts.

The group expects to have a public meeting for public input on January 19, 2023 and said it will put recommendations out for public input prior to that date.

It wouldn’t be until summer of 2023 that WDE will begin looking at revisions to social students, career and technical education, and world languages program standards.

Hernandez told SBE board members there is no current proposed rollout date because WDE and SBE would have to determine if all new standards would be rolled out together, at once or if they would be phased rollouts. That determination has not yet been decided by either department.

The Standards Committee met on Monday to further discuss the standards audit, a future Telegram story will include pertinent information from that meeting in a future story. The Telegram is reaching out to Goshen County School District (GCSD) for its input to this process now that GCSD Superintendent Ryan Kramer is back from a state superintendent meeting.