Transition to Common Core standards cited in PAWS score decrease

Aug 9, 2013 By Becky Orr, MCT News Service

Wyoming students posted lower scores on statewide standardized tests this year as compared to 2012.

Scores are down for every grade and subject compared to last year, the state Department of Education reports.

On Tuesday the agency released results of the 2013 PAWS, or Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students.

Students in grades 3-8 take the test in reading and math each year. Fourth and eighth grades also take the science test.

The 2013 scores show declines from last year n especially in science n among students who reached the proficient and advanced levels.

In science, eighth-grade scores dropped 14 percent from last year while fourth-grade scores were down 8 percent.

The percentage of fifth-grade students who scored at proficient and advanced in reading in 2013 dropped 8 percent from 2012; eighth-grade math scores dropped 7 percent.

"While these test results indicate a need to continue work of schools and the (state department) to improve student success, I would caution that they not be interpreted as an indictment of the ongoing work to improve educational outcomes," said Rich Crandall, the new director of the agency, in a news release.

Questions on the 2013 PAWS are more closely aligned with the Common Core State Standards than before, the state agency's release says. But the test is not fully aligned with the new standards.

The state department is committed to helping school staff in Wyoming make the transition to teaching and assessing the new standards, Crandall said.

"The higher expectations that come with more rigorous standards will ultimately benefit all Wyoming students," he added.

Districts across Wyoming are moving their curricula and local teaching practices toward meeting the new state standards, Deb Lindsey said on Wednesday. She is the state's agency's assessment director.

At the same time, "we're making changes with our state assessment system," Lindsey added.

Changes are under way to address new state standards. And changes made to the exam itself over the years could impact scores, she said.

"We've had changes virtually every year," she added. "Any one of them could have some effect (on the test); how much, we don't know."

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