CASPER, Wyo. — A new accountability system to grade Wyoming schools, teachers and principals is still on track despite two failed bills on the topic this legislative session, state education officials said Tuesday.
The Legislature continued funding for a committee that's been developing the accountability systems, which are designed to replace the current federal system mandated under No Child Left Behind.
"To me that's an indication that (the Legislature) intends to continue refining and improving the Wyoming accountability system," said Mike Flicek, an educational consultant working with the Wyoming Department of Education on the accountability project.
Both bills brought by the Select Committee on Education Accountability failed during the recent session.
House Bill 28 and House Bill 85 would have mandated four years of mathematics before a student could graduate high school, instead of the current three years. They would have eliminated the three different tiers — advanced, comprehensive and basic — of a high school diploma.
The changes those bills proposed were minor in the overall picture of the state's accountability system, said Mary Kay Hill, education policy adviser to Gov. Matt Mead.
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"The work continues," Kay said. "The accountability bills that were in front of the Legislature this session were relatively minor in terms of the scope of the overall project."
Lawmakers did through the budget what they couldn't do through a bill in the short session. They allocated $1 million this biennium for the Wyoming Department of Education to continue working on the accountability systems, Kay said.
A school evaluation system was piloted this school year. It will begin in full effect during the 2014-15 school year.
An administrator evaluation system is planned to start in the 2015-16 school year, and a teacher evaluation is slated for the 2016-17 school year, Kay said.
Flicek said the state is considering tweaking its school accountability system to reward schools for improving their graduation rates and to better track improvement among the state's lowest-performing high school students before the system takes full effect in schools this fall.