Wyoming Assessment Letter

April 26, 2007

The Honorable Jim McBride
Wyoming Department of Education
Hathaway Building
2300 Capitol Avenue
Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002-0050

Dear Superintendent McBride:

Thank you for your participation in the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) standards and assessment peer review process under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).

In the letter to you on June 22, 2006, the Department enumerated the fundamental components as well as a number of additional technical issues that had not met the standards and assessment requirements of the ESEA. Specifically, the Department could not approve Wyoming’s standards and assessment system due to outstanding concerns with the alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards (the Alternate Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students, or PAWS-Alt) and the process for standards setting for the new assessments based upon the field trial and operational assessments.

In January 2007, the peer reviewers and Department staff evaluated additional evidence submitted by Wyoming. Based on the evidence received, we have determined that Wyoming’s system still does not meet all of the statutory and regulatory requirements of Section 1111(b)(1) and (3) of the ESEA. I appreciate you taking the time last month to meet with Catherine Freeman and Sue Rigney to discuss the results of that peer review and I hope it helped you in preparing for the next peer review. I know that Wyoming submitted additional evidence that will be reviewed by the peers next week; I encourage you to bring in all available evidence for review.

Because the peer review did not resolve all outstanding issues, the status of Wyoming’s standards and assessment system remains Approval Pending. The enclosure provides a detailed list of the evidence Wyoming must still submit to meet the requirements for a fully approved standards and assessment system. Please note that Wyoming must address all outstanding issues in order to have a fully compliant standards and assessment system under the ESEA by the end of the 2006-07 school year. Wyoming continues to be under Mandatory Oversight, as authorized under 34 C.F.R. §80.12, and the condition on your Title I, Part A grant award will continue.

I appreciate the steps Wyoming has taken toward meeting the requirements of the ESEA, and I know you are anxious to receive full approval of your standards and assessment system. We are committed to helping you get there and remain available to provide technical assistance regarding issues that you identify. Toward that end, let me reiterate my earlier offer of technical assistance. We will schedule an additional peer review when you have evidence available to further evaluate your system. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact Sue Rigney (Sue.Rigney@ed.gov) or Patrick Rooney (Patrick.Rooney@ed.gov) of my staff.


Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.
Acting Assistant Secretary


cc: Governor Dave Freudenthal
Joe Simpson
Lesley Wangberg


  1. Clarification of the design elements of the Alternate Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS-Alt) and evidence that it generates appropriate and accurate information about student performance.
  2. Directions for teachers to administer the assessment and confirmation that the directions are implemented as intended.
  3. The scoring rubrics for all PAWS-Alt components, as well as the training provided to ensure reliable scoring.
  4. A description of the standards setting process for the PAWS-Alt that includes the procedures employed, the qualifications of the panelists, and an explanation of how data from the three main components is integrated into a performance standard.


1. A completed technical manual that includes detailed information regarding the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS) item and test development; procedures for combining results based on multiple choice and constructed response items; procedures for the combination of reading and writing results to produce a language arts proficiency score; standards setting, scaling, scoring, and equating procedures; and validity and reliability information.

  • Clarification regarding the relationship between the traffic light reporting system and the PAWS achievement standards.
  • Reliability and validity information for the operational PAWS and PAWS-Alt assessments, including data supporting concurrent and consequential validity.
  • Data confirming that the accommodations permitted on the PAWS assessment support valid use of the assessment results.
  • A plan for ongoing analysis of the relation between test administration patterns, test results, and the implications for interpretation and intended consequences.
  • 5.0 – ALIGNMENT

    1. The systematic procedures that will be used to address the alignment gaps documented in the ELY alignment study.
    2. Test blueprints or other documents that show alignment of the PAWS with the content standards (as opposed to alignment with “skills”).
    3. Clarification regarding the design and administration of the operational PAWS-Alt sufficient to determine whether the assessment content is aligned with grade-level content standards.

    6.0 – INCLUSION

    1. Participation data for PAWS and PAWS-Alt showing that all students enrolled are included in the State assessments. This is not the same as AYP participation rates and AYP reports will not meet this requirement.

    7.0 – REPORTS

    1. Sample student reports for the PAWS and PAWS-Alt with the explanatory materials provided to parents and educators.
    2. Sample item analysis consistent with the description in the Department’s Standards and Assessment Guidance, dated March 2003.

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