GREEN RIVER — Sweetwater County School District (SCSD) No. 2 celebrated its 2020-2021 Wyoming Test of Proficiency and Progress (WY-TOPP) scores during its school board meeting on Tuesday as students topped the state in performance.
The Wyoming Department of Education released the test scores recently and Superintendent Craig Barringer discussed the results with the school board. The 2019-2020 school year does not have any testing data due to the WY-TOPP being canceled because of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.
However, despite the global pandemic that has made it more difficult to provide students with in-person instruction, a higher percentage of students tested at proficient or advanced levels in math, language arts, and science in 2020-2021. Grades 3-10 take the WY-TOPP except for the science portion in which only students in fourth, eighth, and 10th grade are tested.
In 2020-2021, the percentage of students testing proficient or above on the math WY-TOPP was 62.3 percent, which is an increase from 60.4 percent in 2018-2019. Meanwhile, the state’s average for students testing proficient or above in math dropped from 50.8 percent in 2018-2019 to 48 percent in 2020-2021.
In language arts, the district an increase of students testing proficient or above from 61.1 percent to 61.3 percent in 2018-2019 and 2020-2021, respectively. The state’s average for students testing proficient and above in language arts also grew from 54.7 percent in 2018-2019 to 55 percent in 2020-2021.
Barringer said that much of the success in their scores can be attributed to the district’s educators and their dedication to the students.
“I haven’t been in the district long enough to give a long-term reason for our gains on WY-TOPP, but I can say last year our educators worked well together to find the gaps in learning and then address those gaps. Most importantly, their positive approach to teaching last year was outstanding. Our educators across the district showed wonderful resilience in working through the challenges that last year brought to all of us,” Barringer said.
The lowest scores the district saw were in science. The average percentage of students in SCSD No. 2 who tested proficient or above in the science test was 49.54 percent in 2020-2021, which is a decrease from 50.16 percent in 2018-2019. However, SCSD No. 2 still tests higher than the state average where 49.3 percent of students tested proficient or above in 2018-2019, which decreased to 47.4 percent in 2020-2021.
Barringer said there are areas for improvement, but the teachers are always discussing where and how to make adjustments.
“There are always areas for improvement. When I listen to what grade level and subject level teachers talk about in their discussions, I hear the depth of their understanding of each student in their classroom(s),” Barringer said. These discussions usually surround the overall learning environment, then they break it down to the individual student. Those focused discussions would impress any stakeholder.”
In addition to the test scores, Barringer said a major positive to last year’s success was being able to stay in-person all year.
“One of the positives to last year is that we were focused on getting through the year, in person. Though COVID was and still is the looming cloud, we were able to keep the year somewhat distraction free. I hope we learn from that,” he said.
Barringer said a superintendent from another district in the state was looking at growth in test scores from 2013-2014 and on, and he compared them with other districts across Wyoming. His results found that SCSD No. 2 has had the most growth in test scores out of any other district in the state.
“To the schools’ credit, to the teachers’ credit, to the community’s credit, Green River had the highest increase in test scores from 2013 in the state. Green River improved over 15 points,” Barringer said.
The full WY-TOPP results discussion can be viewed below. Barringer’s presentation starts at 1:09:30.