CHEYENNE — The State Board of Education is taking the next steps to ease the burden of state standards on K-12 educators.
On Wednesday morning, board members discussed the plan for reviewing state standards; The audit will take place from now until February.
Revisions focus on math, science, computer science, physical education, health, art, and English language arts. Social studies, vocational technical education and world languages will resume next summer.
However, the approach to reassessing government standards will change this year.
The board voted in October to address concerns “expressed by educators, citizens and policymakers regarding the teaching and learning burden of Wyoming’s current content and performance standards.”
“In anticipation of setting graduation standards in Wyoming and implementing a graduate’s profile, we recognize the need for schools to have more flexibility and time to embrace innovation and community collaboration in response to the voices of Wyoming stakeholders pursue,” the resolution stated. “We resolve to reduce the standards burden by adopting performance standards as government standards and beginning promulgation of the rules no later than February 2023.”
While there will be traditional prioritization criteria for standards such as reading, writing and math, there will also be an emphasis on a graduate’s SBE profile and feedback in Governor Mark Gordon’s ReImagining and Innovating the Delivery of Education (RIDE) advisory group.
There are four main categories in the graduate profile: learn, work, contribute and succeed.
A Wyoming graduate will be able to demonstrate basic knowledge and skills in academic conduct; explore career opportunities and develop workforce skills; Understand government structures and how to access community resources; and have other skills such as budgeting, taxes, and access to medical and mental health services.
There are also other general competencies, such as B. Critical thinking, practicing effective work habits and demonstrating strong interpersonal skills.
Since the State Board of Education has passed the resolution and announced its intention to use a graduate profile for standards, the Wyoming Department of Education and the Curriculum Directors’ Advisory Committee (CDAC) will review the exam schedule before it is implemented.
Laurie Hernandez, Director of Valuation Standards, gave a presentation on the draft standards mapping, but also shared the discussion CDAC had had.
“Working on this resolution should not result in a rewrite of the standards as it would mean a major change in our system,” she said. “Nor should it involve putting together a set of standards, because acknowledging that setting two or three standards at the local level doesn’t get any easier. You still need to take these things apart if you want to teach it and grade it to mastery.
Hernandez said the committee reviewed the federal requirements for minimum state standards, what could be taught with the time available, and the implications of adopting the standards. Some of these were the retention and loss of longitudinal assessment data, options for a unified system, and a culture shift away from “assessment to experience” or the ability to be dynamic.
It will also take patience to implement the changes.
A memo from WDE Chief Policy Officer Hernandez and Wanda Maloney said that implementing a single content area could take districts two to three years, depending on the workload of changing standards.
“When multiple content areas are changed at once, a phased approach to rolling out efforts may be needed, rather than changing and remapping multiple content areas at once,” the memo said.
All parties from the educational institutions seemed to agree that implementing the reduced standards vision and profile of a graduate’s skills would be a significant workload, but there were already teachers who thanked them for their efforts.
Chris Bessonette, a teacher at Teton County School District 1 and a member of the Level Up leadership program, said he is grateful that the board has taken on the process of reviewing standards, prioritization and performance.
He said there is a need to create standards of achievement and as a second grade teacher it is difficult to identify all the standards that need to be taught.
“It’s so exciting as a teacher to think of having a little extra time to get involved in these fun, innovative projects that help kids really come alive in the classroom. We need that,” he said. “We have to do this.”