Wyoming Senate panel passes education reform bills

2013-02-11T12:10:00Z 2013-04-03T11:15:12Z Wyoming Senate panel passes education reform billsThe Associated Press The Associated Press
February 11, 2013 12:10 pm  • 

CHEYENNE — The Senate Education Committee endorsed two bills on Monday aimed at restarting ambitious education reform in Wyoming.

The panel approved House bills 72 and 91 and sent both measures to the full Senate for debate.

The bills deal with bringing more accountability to Wyoming's K-12 education system, an effort lawmakers have been working on for several years.

However, legislators say parts of the effort that were supposed to be done by now weren't completed because the Wyoming Department of Education failed to do its job over the past year.

The Legislature last month passed a law removing state schools Superintendent Cindy Hill from heading up the agency, and lawmakers say the accountability effort can now resume, although some aspects will be delayed.

Hill has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new law.

House Bill 91 restarts certain education reform functions and removes a piece of current law that threatened districts with the loss of state funding if underperforming schools are not making improvement.

The proposed measure also removes a requirement that high school seniors take a college placement test, leaving no way to measure the performance of seniors.

In addition, it calls for an attempt to determine if the Hathaway college scholarship, which is available to graduating seniors, could be used to measure the performance of seniors.

House Bill 72 would develop a system to measure the performance of teachers, superintendents, principals and other educators. However, it would weaken previous law that tied student achievement to teacher performance.

The Senate committee adopted another change that would drop a provision to identify a specific teacher - a so-called teacher of record - to be accountable for a student's performance.

Committee member Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, said trying to identify a teacher of record was too problematic and impractical.

"We've really been hearing a lot in the last couple of years that while this might sound good at the 50,000-foot level, when you actually get down into implementation it was be detrimental to education of the kids," Rothfuss.

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