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August 02, 2012 8:32 am

EDITORIAL: PAWS score improvements a good trend

Written by Ilene Olson

This year, much of the attention in the Wyoming Legislature was on education — specifically, on how to make it better.

Tuesday’s story in the Powell Tribune about local students’ scores on the Proficiency Assessment for Wyoming Students (PAWS) shows there is good news, particularly on the local level. A report released recently showed Powell school students scored better than the statewide average in all three areas tested — math, reading and science.

Math showed the strongest results, with 84 percent of students testing at proficient or advanced levels, compared to 78 percent statewide.

Science was weakest, both locally and statewide. Still, local students improved in that subject as well, with 69 percent of students scoring as proficient or advanced, up by 11 percentage points over last year.

Writing is no longer included in the PAWS test, though it likely will be again in the future. Meanwhile, Park County School District 1 officials are to be commended for making sure local students’ writing abilities are measured through other assessment tests.

It is important that students be able to express themselves well and intelligently through writing, not only in their scholastic endeavors, but also as they enter the workforce and society.

Students’ increasing proficiency scores in the PAWS test, locally and statewide, are good news, indeed. But, as noted by local and state officials, there still is room for improvement.

“We’d like to see more students reach advanced and proficient,” said Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody. Coe is the longtime co-chair of the Wyoming Senate Education Committee.

Particularly concerning is the drop in proficiency levels in all three subject areas as students advance through grades and subject matter becomes more challenging.

The need for improvement is particularly evident in the number of graduating students who require remediation classes when they enter college.

According to a story in the Casper Star-Tribune, 23 percent of high school students entering the University of Wyoming last fall were eligible for remedial math courses to bring their abilities up to college level. The university doesn’t test for remedial English needs.

Remedial classes also are recommended for many students at Northwest College.

Still, based on this year’s PAWS test results, it appears the scores are heading in the right direction. We’re proud of the achievements of local students and their educators, and we hope the improving trend continues until all capable students test at proficient or advanced levels.

We also recognize the importance of parent involvement in their children’s education. No measure is available for that, but its importance cannot emphasized enough when it comes to students’ dedication and learning abilities.

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