The Wyoming Department of Education released school performance ratings Tuesday showing that more than half of Wyoming schools are meeting or exceeding expectations.
In Teton County School District No. 1 all schools are either meeting or exceeding expectations.
“We are very proud of the improvement that we’ve seen at the school level and at the district level,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said in a press conference. “We’re excited to see what follows now that we’ll have more stability.”
The data doesn’t include performance ratings for Wyoming’s 21 alternative high schools, where a separate review process is being piloted this year.
Balow highlighted that this year, 21 more schools are meeting or exceeding expectations compared with last year.
The state Department of Education hasn’t determined if that number is statistically meaningful for the 334 schools in the state.
“Whether or not it is statistically significant, we’re still talking about individual student performance,” Balow said, “and we want to make sure all students across the board have a chance to succeed.”
Teton County School District Superintendent Gillian Chapman said she is not surprised by her district’s results.
“It shows the fruits of our labor,” she said, “and all of the work we did last year to align our curriculum with the state standard. It’s an indicator that our teachers are strong with their instructional strategies.”
At the state level 13.3 percent of schools are exceeding expectations, 40.5 percent are meeting expectations, 25.4 percent are partially meeting expectations and 13 percent are not meeting expectations.
That leaves 7.7 percent of schools “under review,” meaning they are too small to accurately measure using that model. Moran Elementary School is included in that category.
Wilson Elementary moved up from meeting expectations in the 2014-15 school year to exceeding them this year. Alta Elementary, which has been exceeding expectations since 2013-14, remained at the highest level of performance.
Kelly Elementary also remained the same at the meeting expectations level, despite exceeding them in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
Colter Elementary, Davey Jackson Elementary and Jackson Hole Middle School have been at the meeting expectations level since 2012.
Jackson Hole High School, which partially met expectations during the 2012-13 school year, bounced up to exceeding expectations the next two years but dropped back to meeting them this year.
“I think overall, we’re not going to be satisfied until all of our students are exceeding expectations as individuals,” Chapman said. “I’m more interested in individual student growth.”
In regard to Colter and Jackson elementary schools and Jackson Hole Middle School staying at the same level, Director of School Improvement and Accountability Pier Trudelle pointed out that the aggregated school level scores are a range and include multiple subscores from students.
“Individually we’re still seeing growth,” Trudelle said. “In time we expect to be exceeding the target, and each year we’re moving closer to exceeding expectations.”
“Does it concern me?” Chapman asked. “Not necessarily,” she said, noting gains in ACT scores this year.
Another interesting component of the study is that four of the state’s five lowest-performing schools serve Native American reservations.
Balow said she and the state are “keenly aware” of the lowest-performing schools and mentioned initiatives in place and individualized opportunities to help schools that are in the bottom 5 percent of performance ratings or that have a 67 percent or lower graduation rate.
“My biggest concern is that the budget conversation will overtake our school improvement conversation,” Balow said, “and that just can’t happen.
“We need to continue to grow and innovate as a state to stay strong.”