State Board Approves Promulgation of Rules on Accreditation, Statewide Standards, and Graduation Requirements

The State Board of Education took action during its meeting on Friday in Gillette to promulgate proposed rule changes regarding school and district accreditation, Math, Science Extended and Social Studies standards, and high school graduation requirements.

The proposed Chapter 6 Rules on District and School Accreditation are based on recommendations from an Accreditation Task Force comprised of school district personnel. The adjustments are necessary due to changes in federal and state law, and now include a description of the accreditation process for schools or districts. The proposed rules are meant to ensure that Wyoming school districts meet statutory requirements intended to improve student learning, and ensure equity of opportunity to learn.

The proposed Chapter 10 Rules on Wyoming Content and Performance Standards include revisions to the Mathematics and Social Studies content areas, as well as the Science Extended Standards for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Standards review committees, which included educators, professors, parents, and business/community members, provided the recommendations to the SBE. Public input was collected online and through public meetings across the state for the SBE to consider while voting. If fully approved through the promulgation process, school districts would then have three full school years to align their curriculum to these standards.

The Math Standards Review Committee recommended a revision of the current standards that include more grade-specific Mathematical Practices, integrates modeling within all grade levels, adds examples to standards and benchmarks, includes cross-disciplinary connections to other content areas, and identifies connections to the International Society for Technology in Education standards, Computer Science Teachers Association standards, computational thinking skills, and financial literacy skills.

The Science Extended Standards Review Committee designed standards aligned to the 2016 Science Standards for the 1 percent of the most significant cognitively disabled students. The recommended standards were built to four performance levels with embedded examples.

The Social Studies Standards Review Committee recommended additions to the current standards that address the cultural heritage, history and contemporary contributions of American Indians. Additions include defining “Indigenous Tribes of Wyoming,” enhancing the standards regarding government, culture, history, and geography with Performance Level Descriptors as needed, examples, and identifying cross-curricular connections to other content areas.

The proposed Chapter 31 Rules on Wyoming Graduation Requirements include several revisions required by a change in state law. These revisions incorporate the elimination of the tiered diploma system, identification of the required components of each district’s assessment system, and the establishment of a consultation process between the SBE and local school districts. Additionally, changes to the rules would give districts more flexibility in helping students meet the graduation requirements. For instance, the proposed rules would allow courses taken by students before grade 9 to count toward graduation requirements, as long as the courses are aligned to the state standards in grades 9 through 12. The proposed rules would also allow courses that are the “functional equivalent” of a course required for graduation to count for the graduation requirements, such as a trigonometry class being the functional equivalent of a geometry class.

“Getting the Chapter 31 rules to this point was a collective effort by many individuals,” said SBE Chair Walt Wilcox. “We’re so appreciative of the work of Special Assistant Attorney General Mike O’Donnell, staff from the AG’s office, LSO, the WDE, and our board coordinator, who all collaborated on these changes and navigated through some tough questions to make sure statutory requirements were being met while also providing flexibility to school districts.”

By voting to promulgate Chapters 6, 10, and 31, the SBE has approved them for the formal rulemaking process, which includes a public comment period and further review by the SBE, Legislative Services Office, and the Governor.

During their meeting, the SBE received a presentation from Sara Reed, the 2018 Wyoming Teacher of the Year. Reed is a kindergarten teacher at Hillcrest Elementary School in Gillette. The board also heard from 2018 STEM Elementary Educator of the Year, Heather Gibson, a Technology Facilitator at Prairie Wind Elementary School in Gillette. Wyoming Department of Education personnel presented on the process for developing Computer Science standards, the Statewide System of Support, and proposed revisions to the Chapter 29 Rules on Certified Personnel Evaluation Systems. State Board Coordinator Dr. Thomas Sachse provided updates on interim legislative topics, SBE policies of governance, and the contract for a Professional Judgment Panel.

The SBE is scheduled to hold their next meeting via teleconference on May 18, 2018.