CASPER —Wyoming ranks above average in the nation for student reading performance. But this ranking doesn’t show the full picture.
Raw scores reveal that many Wyoming students struggle with reading. That’s a problem a bill signed into law last week seeks to address.
The ultimate goal of Senate File 32 is to have 85% of students in kindergarten through third grade reach a proficient or advanced reading score, an ambitious goal considering past performance.
In the 2018-2019 academic school year, only one school, Ten Sleep School in Washakie County, had over 80% of students with proficient and advanced scores in English Language Arts, according to the Wyoming Department of Education.
WY-TOPP and WY-ALT test scores from the 2020-2021 academic year show that about half of Wyoming students in third grade scored at a basic level or below in reading ability.
That percentage doesn’t change much in higher grades.
A 2020 report to the Legislature deemed basic and below basic performance levels to be inadequate “for graduates to access jobs in the higher skill, higher wage economy Wyoming is trying to build.”
This report spurred the Joint Education Committee to discuss reading difficulties during the last interim session.
Addressing literacy difficulties early is critical; higher grades assume mastery of basic reading.