WDE: Lack of participation in standards review surprising

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SHERIDAN — The window for public comment on the State Board of Education chapter 10 content and performance standards will close tomorrow, and the WDE has been trying, and struggling, to get public feedback.

At its April 11 meeting, the board approved for public comment new standards in the content areas of social studies, physical education and career and vocational education.

On July 1, additional supporting documents for the July 2012 standards in English language arts and mathematics were approved, adding performance level descriptors as well as standards extensions for students with severe cognitive disabilities.

The descriptors were developed by a group of teachers over the summer and tell what each student must be able to do at each level to earn a score of basic, proficient and advanced.

As required by statute, the proposed changes and additions were opened to public review and comment on July 21 but unlike in review periods prior, not many people have spoken up. Only seven comments were made in the first 45 days.

Wyoming Department of Education representative Laurie Hernandez visited Sheridan Tuesday night to facilitate an eight-city teleconference public hearing and she said she has been surprised by the lack of participation, stating that in past years comment periods have garnered hundreds of responses from the community.

Public hearings were held in Jackson and Powell on Monday, adding three comments to the list of thoughts that will be given to the Board of Education to read before proceeding with the changes.

Tuesday night’s teleconference gathered only one more comment from one of the seven attendees in Sheridan while hearings in Pinedale, Rawlins, Laramie, Wheatland, Gillette and Cheyenne were unattended by the public and the Riverton hearing had two attendees who did not provide comment.

Instructional facilitator of language arts at Sheridan High School Kim Ferguson’s comment was the only one added Tuesday night saying.

“In regard to the ELA PLDs and having done quite a bit of work with the smarter balance and writing some of those test constructs I trust that the PLDs are aligned to the rigor as well as the content of the smarter balance assessment items and the Common Core,” Ferguson said.

Rock Springs, Thermopolis, Casper and Cheyenne will close out the tour over the next two days but an online format remains open to all through Thursday.

“The lack of participation speaks volumes to the apathy in the state,” Ferguson said, adding that the review looks at not just how the changes look on paper but how it will look in your classrooms and across your content areas. “These PLDs are it, they determine your cut scores, they embody what we truly want a child to look like in terms of what they know in any content area. They are really important.”

After the comments are compiled, the SBE will review those and make responses. The documents, comments and responses from the board then go to the governor’s office where he has 75 days to review before rejecting or signing it, at which point it would become immediately effective.

All documents can be seen in their draft form and comments can be submitted at edu.wyoming.gov/educators/standards/chapter-10-rules.

By |Sep. 10, 2014|

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