Legislative Panel Advances Education Reform Bill
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Advancing education reform efforts in Wyoming's public schools, a panel of lawmakers has endorsed proposed legislation that spells out how to make sure high school graduates are ready for college and careers.
The Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability on Monday unanimously approved a 55-page proposal that is another step that began in the 2011 Legislature to hold students, teachers, schools and administrators accountable for poor academic performance.
"We're down to the nitty-gritty of trying to figure out how we can produce a better product," said committee co-chairman Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody. "And that product we're trying to produce is a kid when he comes out of high school that is career-ready and college-ready and has had, hopefully, the best education possible so that he can succeed at the next level."
The proposed bill deals with everything from testing of students to teacher and school administrator evaluations. It sets up a process for measuring how students are performing academically year to year and helping schools with poorly performing students improve, a process that could include firing school principals.
The bill will now go to the Joint Education Committee for consideration. It likely will then head to the full Legislature, which meets next month in Cheyenne.
The bill would change testing of students so that statewide assessments for reading, math and science are mandated for each grade from three through 12. Currently, students are given a statewide test to measure their performance in grades three, eight and 11.
The ACT college entrance exam would be required for both 11th and 12th graders under the bill. The test currently is given to only 11th graders now.
The state would pay for both tests.
Consultant Scott Marion advised the committee that he didn't believe the ACT would be a useful academic performance measure for high school seniors, but Sens. Kit Jennings, R-Casper, and Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, argued in favor of using the test since there were no other alternatives.
The bill also would add a writing and language assessment for grades four, six and eight, while the ACT writing component would be used as a measure for 11th graders.
In addition, the legislation would create a committee made up of educators, lawmakers, state board members and others to decide what standards schools must meet in order to be judged whether they are doing a good job of educating students.