SBE adopts rules on school schedules, moves accountability rules forward

(Fremont County, WY) – The Wyoming State Board of Education (SBE) voted to adopt the proposed Chapter 22 Rules governing School Schedules at its regularly scheduled meeting on November 19, 2021. The board’s approval came after a 45-day public comment period on the rules and will now go to Governor Mark Gordon for review. If signed by the governor, K-12 schools will operate under a new definition of pupil-teacher contact time. 

The new definition provides continuity in the calculation of instructional time for school schedules and a standard to determine if instruction outside the physical classroom is appropriate to be counted as pupil-teacher contact time – such as the virtual learning time experienced during the recent pandemic. The new definition of instructional time also creates consistency across districts by excluding passing times, lunch, and recess time from the pupil-teacher time calculation. In some cases, these non-instructional times can add up to 175 hours over the course of a school year. To offset the impact of the more narrow calculation of instructional time, the board decided an adjustment of the minimum instructional hours at the secondary levels would be appropriate. Under the proposed changes, a minimum of 950 instructional hours for middle/junior high schools and 1,000 instructional hours for high schools would be required.  

The board also approved the promulgation of Chapter 47 Rules for School Accountability. The proposed rules will now go out for a 45-day public comment period. Per state statute, the school accountability system provides a School Performance Rating for every public school in Wyoming. The performance ratings for schools are based on a calculation of student academic achievement, growth, and equity. Post-secondary readiness and graduation rates are also included as part of high school performance ratings.

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In addition, the board approved a waiver from Fremont County School District #38, a K-8 school district, to operate a 9-12 Charter School in Arapahoe, and OK’d the teacher evaluation systems for 23 Wyoming school districts. Following discussions on recommended changes to content and performance standards, the board tabled a request to promulgate Chapter 10 Rules on Standards, pending further educator input on the proposed Fine and Performing Arts Standards. 

The SBE continued its “Tour of Excellence” efforts to seek out and recognize excellence and innovation in Wyoming K-12 schools. The board heard from Wyoming’s 2021 Teacher of the Year, Alexis Barney. Barney spoke of a vision for a joyous and just education system in Wyoming while reminding the board of the stress teachers are facing and the compounding impact of the pandemic on the mental health of students. The board also heard about the innovative collaboration between Worland High School and Wyoming Sugar Company. Career and Technical Education (CTE) instructor Casey Lewis shared information with the board regarding work based learning opportunities being provided to students. The board then heard from CTE instructor Troy Reichert from Guernsey-Sunrise High School. Reichert shared his journey in creating a Skilled Trades Camp in Wyoming. The first year of the camp was provided through collaboration with the University of Wyoming and local businesses. The Skilled Trades Camp was open to students across the state and nation. Plans are already underway to replicate the success of the program with another camp to be offered during the summer of 2022.

“Each of these educators exemplify what makes our education system so strong,” said SBE Chairman Ryan Fuhrman. “Each one is going above and beyond what the system demands of them, because they see a need to make learning more relevant and are working tirelessly to meet it. The State Board is working to do the same through our Profile of a Graduate work. We will continue to shine a light on innovations as we hope to adjust the system to make them commonplace.”

The next regular meeting of the SBE is scheduled for January 20, 2022. Meeting minutes and materials may be viewed through the board’s website. Follow the SBE on Facebook and Twitter.

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