County students perform well on state tests

By Sarah Pridgeon

The results from the first Wyoming Test of Proficiency and Progress (WY-TOPP) show Crook County’s students to be performing around or above the state average in the majority of cases.

“WY-TOPP was a major shift and improvement for our schools,” says State Superintendent Jillian Balow. “We went from a paper and pencil, multiple-choice-only test that provided limited useful information to teachers, to an adaptable, interactive, online assessment that gives teachers data that can be used to inform instruction.”

Because WY-TOPP replaces the PAWS testing, this year’s results set a new baseline and cannot be compared to previous proficiency rates. However, says Superintendent Mark Broderson, the upside is that more detailed information can be gleaned for individual students.

“Parents have access to more information tied to the exam. They can visit with their student’s teacher to determine areas of strengths and challenges,” he says.

“The information sheet provided to parents gives them an in-depth look at their child’s overall assessment results and proficiency scales.”

Broderson is cautiously pleased with the results of the first test, saying it gives a good starting point.

“The information appears to provide more insight into what the district needs to look at for curriculum and helps with aligning our instruction to match the standards. The WY-TOPP Assessment is totally computer driven and requires students to have an understanding of the functionality of the on-line format,” he says.

“All exams have a tendency to raise a few questions in areas. At this time, since it was the first year, it provides for a lot of discussion district wide and direction for the future.”

The results from the WY-TOPP testing are split by grade into the three subject areas of math, English language and science. For each one, the results show what percentage of students who took the tests scored below basic, basic, proficient and advanced.

In English, Crook County students followed a similar pattern to the state, starting stronger than average, dipping in the middle grades but finishing ahead of the grade by graduation, with significantly fewer students scoring below basic than the state average and more scoring as advanced.

In math, Crook County third grade students started strong, dipping below the averages in fourth grade. Students in fifth grade once again began to perform at a similar level or better than the state averages in the below average and proficient categories.

The trend continued in sixth through eighth grades, picking up in ninth grade. In tenth grade, once again, students outperformed the state average with a much higher percentage of students scoring advanced than the state average.

Science, unlike the other two subject areas, is only tested at three grade levels. Fourth grade students scored largely in line with the state average.

Eighth grade students, however, outperformed the average. In tenth grade, students increased their lead even further, with considerably fewer students scoring below basic and significantly more in the proficient and advanced categories.

“I have mixed feelings. Overall we compare well with the state averages,” Broderson says. “We always strive to do better and, now that we have a baseline, that is what we will work on.”

To view the full results, visit https://edu.wyoming.gov/blog/2018/09/26/2018-wy-topp-results-available/.