UPDATE: “Wyoming overhauls PAWS test”

Posted: April 28, 2007 in Current Event, Education, Elementary School, High School, Language Arts, Math, Middle School, Reading, Writing

UPDATE 2010!!!

(4/13/2010):  McBride:  Don’t Count PAWS

(3/24/2010):  Local Teacher finds Snafu in PAWS Testing

(3/25/2010):  It has been almost 3 years since I posted this information.  The saga continues – “PAWS Problems Persist.”

The ongoing saga of state testing continues in Wyoming as you can read in the article below. I have touched on this issue before, and I know it is simply a requirement to meet the “standards” of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The unfortunate part of this entire process is that children are being “tossed around,” manipulated, experimented on, and deceived by the powers that be. My own children have been in the middle of this mess in which no one seems to care about how it influences students. Many students consider this testing a joke, something to toy with, and that it has no meaning or bearing on their lives. I suppose they are right.

The state has spent the better part of a decade trying to figure out how to implement a statewide test. I have been part of that problem/solution. My family and I are moving on, and we may face the same challenges in our new home, but the mismanagement and indecision that has existed in Wyoming is not good or fair for my children, my neighbor’s children, and the students that have graced my classrooms for the past ten years. Good luck trying to figure out what you are going to do Wyoming, but I am no longer going to help or wait for you to figure it out. My children are precious and don’t have the time for you to find out what you are doing!

Wyoming overhauls PAWS test

By AIMEE TABOR
Star-Tribune staff writer

“Wyoming’s student proficiency test will have fewer questions and only one official testing window next year following an overhaul of the program, which stemmed from problems schools had this year with the current test.

State officials and Texas-based Harcourt Assessment announced the revisions to the Proficiency Assessment for Wyoming Students during a press conference Friday, saying they have a solid partnership and a new plan that addresses all the problems.

This year, schools encountered late and incomplete test results, which made it difficult for teachers to determine if their students should take the second test. Plus, some schools reported problems logging onto the system.

“We’ve developed a good working relationship with Harcourt,” said Jim McBride, state superintendent of public instruction. “We believe that they can and will perform to address the best needs of our students.”

For the 2007-2008 school year, only one official test will be given. In 2008-2009, a series of informative tests will be given to students before the official test so that teachers can determine what areas need to be worked on, McBride said. The year wait for the informative test will give Harcourt the chance to develop it.

“The idea will be that they will have the information available immediately to them to help them guide instruction,” McBride said of the informative tests. “That’s what it was about in the beginning. It was about improving achievement for our students.”

The state also is expected to save a significant amount of money with the changes because it will renegotiate its $13.9 million contract with Harcourt, McBride said.

Although the districts received the results late during this testing cycle, McBride defended his decision not to impose fines, saying it would destroy the working relationship between Harcourt and the state.

“If we start down the fine path now then we’re in an environment of litigation,” McBride said. “Then every single phone call, every e-mail and every piece of correspondence is filtered through the lawyers.”

Instead, McBride and Harcourt wanted to establish a cooperative environment where everyone works together to resolve the problems. They did that by meeting in Texas recently to discuss the problems. Plus, the state has put together a task force where members defined the problems and brought them back to McBride.

Michael Hansen, chief executive officer for Harcourt, said the company is committed to working with the state.

“We believe the best way to serve the state of Wyoming is to be in a partnership with the state of Wyoming, with the children, the districts,” he said. “We believe we have a good plan moving forward.”

School districts around Wyoming complained that the computerized testing was extremely slow at times.

“What we have experienced in the recent administration was a slowdown of the mainframe server that the test was on and we needed to stop and reboot the server that caused the slowdown,” Hansen said. “The students could still take the test but it took them longer.”

The PAWS test is how Wyoming school districts measure whether students are proficient on state education standards. The federal government uses the test results to determine if Wyoming schools are meeting required progress under the No Child Left Behind law. Students are not required to pass the PAWS to graduate high school or to earn good grades.

District officials anticipate the changes will be beneficial as long as they’re made and teachers can get the results of the informative tests immediately.

Larry Heslep, associate superintendent for instruction for Campbell County School District No. 1, said he’s heard from many teachers in his district who said they wished they didn’t have their students take the first PAWS test in January because of the late results.

He said he’s in favor of the test time being reduced considering other college entrance exams take about two and a half hours to complete rather than a total of eight to 20 hours.

“I think we can decide if a student is proficient in less than 20 hours,” he said.

Mike Flicek, research assessment director for the Natrona County School District, said the overhaul will be beneficial because it will give back instruction time for the faculty. Plus, having one official test will keep the scores consistent and easier to track, Flicek said.”

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Comments
  1. Anonymous says:

    I dont think adults should be testing kids just to see what their teacher tought them why not just go in to each class and seewhat they say.Put your self in their pasition I’d think you would like it either!!!

  2. s h a r o n says:

    “Anonymous” post, above, is pretty scary. Is that an indicator of general literacy in this country?

  3. Kaycee says:

    Helllo..i am a girl who goes to school in wyoming paws isn’t that bad we get rewards after were done doing it..

    • nhokanson says:

      I hope it is much better! I know there were problems this year with the online assessment, but it seems those troubles have been fixed. I hope you have done well on your PAWS tests.

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