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State: Expect lower scores on revamped state test

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — When statewide K-12 reading and writing assessment scores are passed out next week, students and parents shouldn't be alarmed if they see lower scores, a state education official said Thursday.

Assessment Director Deb Lindsey said the state's recent adoption of Common Core education standards will result in lower scores on the annual Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students, or PAWS, because the new standards are more rigorous overall than the ones they replaced.

"It doesn't mean our kids know any less than they did last year," Lindsey said. "Nor does it mean that our schools and our teachers are doing a poorer job of educating the children that they serve."

Since the new standards are more challenging, PAWS and other state exams that measure how much students have learned had to be adjusted with higher expectations for students to meet, she said.

"Since we set the bar higher, fewer students will reach that bar in the short term," Lindsey said. "But we know that proficiency rates will increase over time as schools and districts more fully implement the state's adopted standards in reading and math."

Some school districts are further along in adopting the Common Core standards than other districts, she said.

Lindsey said it could take three to five years for schools to adjust to the new standards.

The Education Department is scheduled to release scores next Monday from PAWS and ACT tests given during the 2013-14 school year.

PAWS tests all students in grades 3 through 8 in reading and math. Students in grades 4 and 8 also are tested on science. The ACT is mandatory for high school juniors.

Wyoming has revamped its statewide K-12 assessment multiple times over the last decade. Since PAWS replaced a previous test in 2006, it has undergone changes that include dropping written components, going to all multiple choice questions and alternating between paper and pencil and online.

Since the new tests are "substantially different" from the old test, the results coming out next week can't be compared to scores in previous years, although a "rough" comparison can be made, Lindsey said.

Lindsey said the new test does not take up any more class time than the previous exam.

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