SHERIDAN — Moving away from Proficiency Assesments for Wyoming Students, typically known as PAWS, continues to be discussed by the Assessment Task Force — formed through the Wyoming Department of Education.
The task force is reviewing statewide testing and will make a recommendation to the Wyoming State Board of Education and legislative committees this fall.
One of the highest priorities of the committee is to find an assessment that allows for comparison between states. WDE Chief Policy Officer Brent Young said the task force wants to see an assessment that allows comparison with at least two other states.
A new summative test would also address concerns about timeliness, stability and quality. In addition to apprehensions about how early the test is distributed and frequent changes to assessments, the task force addressed the poor alignment between PAWS and state standards at both its Aug. 14 and Aug. 21 meetings.
The task force issued a report stating that “current assessments are poorly aligned to high-level knowledge and skills in Wyoming content standards.”
Additionally, PAWS relies on multiple-choice questions. The task force said it finds this limiting in testing knowledge. The same concern has been voiced by Sheridan County School District 2, which has been an avid supporter of moving away from PAWS in favor of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.
While the assessment task force hasn’t officially recommended an alternative test yet, they’re discussing possible repercussions if PAWS were to be abandoned.
The three options would be to use a fully formed test from a vendor, create a new test from scratch or use a combination of two by choosing certain test items from a vendor and adding others.
Young has said he feels it’s important to have Wyoming educators involved.
Currently, WDE works closely with vendors to develop the test items, but this might not be the case if the test changes. If PAWS falls to another assessment, the task force wants districts to have enough time to adjust to a new summative assessment.
Ideally a new test — if a recommendation goes through — would be incorporated in the spring of 2018, Young said, however it could change earlier than that.
Another public meeting will take place Sept. 9 in Casper. The task force will present to the state board Sept. 23 and the Joint Education Committee on Oct. 30.