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Wyoming Indian PAWS scores rise; improvement needed in areas

Sep 20, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Third-graders in Ethete this year did worse in math but better in reading than that age group last year.

Students at Wyoming Indian schools showed improvement on some areas of the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students last year, though scores still were lower than administrators would like.

"We're never crazy about the numbers that are there on the PAWS test," Fremont County School District 14 superintendent Terry Smith said Wednesday.

"We hope that we can do (better)."

Smith said administrators and staff are working on strategies to improve scores in the future, focusing on curriculum changes and use of money from federal grants like Title I - Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged.

"We're taking a good look - what is it we're spending those grants on? How are we utilizing that for the benefit of our children?" Smith said.

"We're rearranging our thinking. ... Going into (this) year, (how) can we better work with our kids?"

Test

Smith pointed out that the PAWS test has been modified to incorporate new 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, which were approved last year in Wyoming, 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.

"It's not apples to apples," Smith said. "It's a different test, so how do you compare? (We're) going to have to look a year or two down the road (for) the pattern."

The superintendent said he would prefer an assessment based on each students' individual growth.

"I'd much rather have the growth model where the student is tested in, for example, the fall, and here's where they are at the end of the year," Smith said. "You test the same child to find out where they've come during the year. Those are the things that make more sense than everybody thrown together."

Scores

Third-graders in Ethete this year did worse in math but better in reading than that age group last year.

In 2012-2013, third-graders were 62 percent proficient and advanced in math, down from 71 percent in 2011-12. In reading, the class was 28 percent proficient and advanced in reading this year, up from 19 percent last year.

Fourth-graders did worse in math and reading this year but better in science. Last year they were 57 percent proficient and advanced in math, 35 percent proficient and advanced in reading and 17 percent proficient and advanced in science.

This year the numbers were 46 percent, 29 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

The fifth grade showed growth in both PAWS subjects. In math, the students were 50 percent proficient and advanced compared to 31 percent last year.

And in reading, they were 31 percent proficient and advanced compared to 25 percent last year.

Sixth-graders did worse on both tests, however. This year they were 36 percent proficient and advanced in math and 47 percent proficient and advanced in reading, but last year they were 56 percent proficient and advanced in math and 64 percent proficient and advanced in reading.

The seventh grade did better in math, but scores fell on reading tests. Results this year show 41 percent were proficient and advanced in math and 51 percent proficient and advanced in reading.

Last year they were 33 percent proficient and advanced in math and 65 percent proficient and advanced in reading.

Eighth-graders showed improvement in all areas this year.

They were 32 percent proficient and advanced in math, up from 30 percent last year; 50 percent proficient and advanced in reading, up from 44 percent last year; and 11 percent proficient and advanced in science, up from less than 5 percent last year.

The annual PAWS test measures student progress in grades 3-8 in reading, math and science.

Data from the testing are used to determine whether students are progressing toward federal and state educational goals as outlined through Adequate Yearly Progress and the Wyoming Accountability in Education Act.

The ACT is used to assess juniors in high school. In Ethete, 11th-graders last year were 33 percent proficient and advanced in math, 58 percent proficient and advanced in reading and 13 percent proficient and advanced in science.

This year they did significantly worse in reading, with 32 percent proficient and advanced.

Other scores stayed about the same compared to last year: the age group was 32 percent proficient and advanced in math this year and 14 percent proficient and advanced in science.

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