From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 38 - 5/18/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Concerns Raised About New Grad Requirements
School officials concered about state requirements to measure "proficiency"
by Rob Shaul

At last Thursday's School District No. 1 Board meeting, Pinedale Schools Superintendent Dr. Jerry Wilson and High School Principal Dick Kennedy expressed concern and frustration at new graduation requirements they say are being imposed on local school districts by new state regulations.

Beginning with the Class of 2003, graduating seniors from Wyoming high schools will not only must compile enough credits to earn a diploma, but must demonstrate that they have "mastered" State knowledge standards in subjects ranging from math to physical education. Messrs. Wilson and Kennedy's concerns and frustration stem from the confusion over what method or methods will be used to measure students "proficiency" of knowledge for the various state standards. "Exactly how we're going to measure mastery and proficiency of the state standards, I don't know," Mr. Kennedy told the board.

For students and their parents, the stakes are high. Beginning with the Class of 2003, students who have passed all their coursework, but not met the proficiency level of the state standards will not be awarded a diploma.

As Mr. Kennedy explained it, the state will require a "body of evidence," consisting primarily of standardized and other testing, to demonstrate an individual student's "proficiency" in the State standards, however, the State has not determined what exactly will be required as part of that "body of evidence." The principal is heading to a meeting during the second week of June with State officials to get more information.

Meanwhile, the School District has stopped its work on ensuring district standards align with state standards until the graduation requirement issue is settled. Board member Ken Nishyama reported that his committee, which was working on aligning the standards, has quit for the time being. "It's gotten to a level of frustration because the State has continued to change its standards and definitions."

Youth Mentoring Program

The Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the "Youth Project," a new non-profit youth-mentoring project coordinated by Pinedale's Jerry Hermanson. Mr. Hermanson is applying for a three year grant federal grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to fund the program.

The goal of the Youth Project will be to facilitate one-on-one mentoring relationships between adult volunteers and "at risk" elementary and middle school youth in Sublette County. Mr. Hermanson was requesting the memorandum of agreement with the School District to get school official's assistance in identifying "at risk" youth for the program.

Mr. Hermanson will be the county-wide coordinator for the project, and is currently recruiting a coordinator for the Big Piney/Marlbeton area.

In addition to a mentoring program, Mr. Hermanson told the board Youth Project would also work with the court system and schools to provide volunteer tutoring assistance in completing GED equivalency requirements for kids who dropped out of school.

Board Chairman Jim Malkowski asked what background checks would be required of adult volunteers. Mr. Hermanson responded that he was working closely with the Sublette County Attorney's office and potential volunteers would have to agree to a criminal history background check prior to being matched with a youth.

Board member Ann Fear asked why the mentoring program was being limited to elementary and middle school kids. Mr. Hermanson responded that the federal opinion was that mentoring with youth in this age range made for "better relationships."

Ultimately, the Board approved signing the MOU with the Youth Project, pending its review by the district's attorney.

Other News

The Board approved a two year contract with new Superintendent Peggy Sanders of Buffalo. Ms. Sanders will report for work the first week in July. Current Superintendent, Dr. Jerry Wilson, has accepted a job in Oregon.

Board member Ken Nishiyama announced that he would resign from the board effective June 20, 2000. Mr. Nishyama is moving to California.

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Publisher/Editor: Rob Shaul