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Steering Committee compare NCSD school performance to rest of Wyoming

Teacher Jenny Marshall works with her students during Have-a-Heart Day at Woods Learning Center. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

The Natrona County School District Academic Steering Committee discussed statewide school performance during their Monday, Feb. 11 meeting. The review was conducted as part of the school board’s efforts to establish a new long term strategic plan.

The steering committee’s agenda includes statistics for 2018 from the Wyoming Department of Education showing that of the 334 schools in Wyoming, 24 percent were not meeting performance expectations, 20 percent were partially meeting expectations, 43 percent were meeting expectations and 12 percent were exceeding expectations.

Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Walt Wilcox explained that the performance rating was an overall assessment of a school’s performance according to a number of criteria.

Those include how well the school was meeting the needs of all students, the needs of under-performing students, how students with English as a second language were performing, extended graduation rate and students’ post-secondary readiness.

Wilcox told the committee the performance ratings showed that larger 4A schools tended to struggle relative to smaller schools.

At the high school level, Kelly Walsh was rated as partially meeting expectations and Natrona County High School as not meeting expectations.

Sheridan High School and Jackson High School were the only larger schools exceeding expectations, and only Central High School in Cheyenne was meeting expectations.

Wilcox explained that the Cheyenne, Gillette and Rock Springs high schools were probably the best comparisons for Natrona’s two high schools due to similar enrollment numbers. The performance summary showed that in 2018 Kelly Walsh had the largest enrollment in the state at 1,817 students with NCHS as the second largest at 1,715 students.

Midwest High School, which had 44 students in 2018, was listed as partially meeting expectations. The school’s strong point was extended graduation rate where they had exceeded the target.

Only one of the seven small 4A high schools listed was not meeting expectations, compared with five of the twelve larger high schools. Wilcox pointed out that a performance rating for Thunder Basin High School in Gillette was not available this year.

A performance rating for alternative high schools was also not available. Wilcox said that those would be ready next year for the state’s 20 larger and smaller alternative high schools. He explained that NCSD had some data for Roosevelt High School, and it was meeting the target expectations on four out of seven criteria.

At the middle school level, three of Casper’s four large middle schools were meeting expectations.

Dean Morgan Middle School was not meeting expectations. Of the 16 larger Wyoming middle schools listed, nine were meeting or exceeding expectations.

Of NCSD’s four smaller middle schools, only Woods Learning Center was meeting expectations. Midwest School was partially meeting expectations while Frontier and Poison Spider were not meeting expectations.

Seven out of 20 NCSD elementary schools were meeting expectations. Evansville Elementary stood out as exceeding expectations.

The steering committee was considering the data as part of the school board’s effort to update its long term strategic plan that expires in July. The board is working to develop a set of measurable goals to focus the district’s efforts over the next five years.

Oil City’s coverage of the district’s initial efforts is available here.