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Wyoming test results show students lagging behind

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Brianna Kraemer | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – Spring testing results for Wyoming students showed a decrease in all three testing subjects compared to pre-pandemic assessment scores.

“Compared to the 2019 results, there was a slight decrease in student proficiency rates for all content areas and grade levels, with the exception of grade 9 math,” a the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) said in a press release.

The Wyoming Test of Proficiency and Progress (WY-TOPP) tests students in grades three through 10 in math and English language arts, and students in grades four, eight and 10 in science. Some grades were also examined for writing proficiency. 

The results show the impact distance learning has had on youth. Proficiency or advancement in English decreased from 55.7% during the 2018-19 school year to 53.9% this past school year. Math proficiency fell to 48% from 51.2% and science fell to 47.4% from 49.3%.

Before pandemic restrictions forced millions of students across the country to participate in remote learning, assessment statistics were on an upward trend.

Although test results were low for the third administration of the test, the decline will not affect the state and its school districts due to a waiver from federal accountability requirements. The State Board of Education approved exceptions from the state accountability requirements as well, meaning no accountability determinations will be made for the school year. 

The test is designed to produce a school performance rating and is administered through an online platform, which 96.6% of students in the state participated in during the spring testing. No test was administered during the previous school year as the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“I am enthused about our participation rate,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “State assessment data represent the hard work taking place in every classroom in Wyoming. That was hard to accomplish in states that did not have in-person school.” 

WDE noted that the results are similar to the first administration of the test in 2018. 

Earlier this month, Gov. Mike Gordon pledged to not issue a statewide mask mandate for schools, and state officials have continued to express support for in-person learning for the entirety of the new school year.