by nathan oster
Big Horn County School District No. 3 students showed nearly across-the-board growth on the Proficiency Assessment for Wyoming Students (PAWS) that was administered in the spring, which was consistent with the trend statewide.
“These positive strides are the result of some great work from our schools, teachers, parents, and students,” said State Superintendent Jillian Balow in a release announcing the results. “We’ve seen high commitment to not only align curriculum with standards, but to go above and beyond where possible.
“Based on the efforts we’ve seen from school districts to learn from each other and take advantage of the system of support, it’s obvious that our kids come first in Wyoming.”
The PAWS was administered in reading and mathematics for students in grades three through eight and in science for students in grades four and eight.
The biggest increase in scores took place in seventh-grade math, which had a 6.0 percent increase to 49.4 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced. Other increases were seen in fourth-grade reading with 65.4 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced, fifth-grade math with 56.3 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced.
Balow added: “We can also see in these results that there is work to be done to close achievement gaps for English language learners, students with disabilities, students on free/reduced price lunch, and homeless students. Implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act gives us a really good opportunity to ensure the right resources are getting to those who need them, so that we can create opportunities for every student to keep Wyoming strong.”
School officials have only begun to sort through the data provided by the assessments.
Greybull students topped the state average in third-grade math, fifth-grade reading and math, sixth-grade reading, seventh-grade reading and math and eighth-grade reading.
Greybull students tested below the estate average in third-grade reading, fourth-grade math, reading and science, sixth-grade math, and eighth-grade math and science.
Bryant said what he and other school district officials look for is growth in the number of students who test either proficient or advanced from grade level to grade level.
In that way, the results are encouraging.
While no baselines are available for the third graders who were not tested in the second grade, or for the fourth- and eighth-grade science assessments, Bryant noted that in all areas but sixth-grade math, Greybull students showed growth.
In the fourth grade, 13.5 percent more students reached proficiency in reading and 4.4 percent more reached proficiency in math.
The fifth graders showed minor growth, bettering their proficiency percentages by .3 percent in math and 1.44 percent in reading compared to where they scored as fourth graders.
The sixth graders showed a regression in math — from 56 percent to 50 percent — but minor growth of .53 percent in reading.
Of all grade levels, the seventh graders showed the most growth, putting a whopping 18.19 percent more in the proficiency or advanced category in math and 12.72 percent more in reading. With proficiency levels of 66 percent in math and 73 percent in reading, they rank fifth among all seventh-grade classes in the state.
The eighth graders also showed growth, with 4.19 percent more hitting the proficient or advanced target in math and .94 percent doing the same in reading.
“The middle school language arts program was the shining star of this year’s PAWS scores,” said Bryant. “The students hard work and that of their teachers showed in their test scores.
“These scores indicate a lot of hard work has been done and we have more hard work ahead of our staff and students.”