Aug 22, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff WriterLocal public school administrators analyze a lot of data each year from tests like the annual Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students.
Joanne Flanagan, curriculum director for Fremont County School District 25 in Riverton, said officials regularly turn to PAWS scores as well as ACT results and statistics from the Measures of Academic Progress test to see how students are doing in school.
"We certainly look hard at how our students are achieving on multiple assessments to try to give us good information about what we need to look at in our curriculum, instruction and assessment," Flanagan said. "We'll spend time this fall digging into that data."
Local teachers have been meeting regularly in professional learning communities to talk about new educational standards, and to identify areas where students need more help achieving educational goals.
"(We'll look) at what kinds of trends we're seeing as far as what skills and knowledge pieces kids are missing," Flanagan said. "We have to do a lot more analysis of what that data means before we can kind of pinpoint what the cause might be of some of our scores."
The Wyoming Department of Education released PAWS scores for 2012-2013 this month, showing an overall drop in proficiency for students throughout the state, including Riverton.
The annual PAWS test
measures student progress in grades 3-8 in reading, math and science. Data from the assessment is used to determine whether Wyoming is progressing toward federal and state educational goals like Adequate Yearly Progress and the Wyoming Accountability in Education Act.
The PAWS data includes "disaggregated" test results that show how students in different subgroups are progressing compared to their peers. For example, most grade levels in Riverton include white, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native students whose scores are separated for individual scrutiny.
Having looked at the data briefly, Flanagan said local minority students seem to be improving on PAWS.
"In some areas we're seeing some pretty good scores in those subgroups, even if they're not quite at the target," she said. "I think we're making some growth in those areas."
Other categories include students who qualify for free and reduced lunches and students on individual educational plans. Flanagan said IEP students tend to test lower on PAWS.
"That's something we consistently see," she said.
'On the right track'
Overall, Flanagan said Riverton schools are "on the right track" to meet mandated educational goals. She spoke again about the PLC meetings, where teachers have been studying a new set of Common Core State Standards.
The CCSS initiative is a state-led effort that established a single set of clear standards for students in language arts and mathematics. The standards are meant to provide a consistent and clear understanding of what students are expected to learn so teachers and parents can better help them succeed.
"(There are) specific concepts and skills kids need to be learning at each grade level," Flanagan said. "(We'll) help teachers learn ways to deal with those students and help them when they're not meeting those targets."
This fall, she said, local teachers will undergo training sessions to help them more clearly explain those concepts and skills. Instructors also will develop assessments that accurately depict how students are progressing throughout the year.
Flanagan said the meetings have been productive so far.
"I feel good about the curriculum work we've started to undertake (to align) K-12 against the common core standards," she said. "We have a good K-12 district plan in place, and now it's about rolling it out and getting it implemented."
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