PAWS testing

NOTE: The Wyoming Department of Education is retiring PAWS testing for the 2017-2018 school year.

A primary purpose of the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS) is to foster program improvement at the school, district, and state levels in support of the teaching and learning that takes place in Wyoming public classrooms and meets all of the attendant requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001(NCLB).

In 2005–2006, PAWS became the official statewide assessment used to measure individual student achievement against the Wyoming Content and Performance Standards in reading, writing, and mathematics for grades 3 – 8 and 11.  In 2008, a science assessment was implemented for grades 4, 8, and 11.

What is it?:  Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students (PAWS).  PAWS is a Wyoming assessment.  This assessment is administered paper and pencil with some grade levels completing their answers on a separate scantron answer sheet.  The assessment arrives with recommended time allocations, but there are no time limits for students to complete the sections in.  Accommodations are allowed on the PAWS for students on an Individual Education Plan (IEP), for students on a 504 Plan, and for English Language Learners.

Who is tested?: Students in third through eighth grade participate in the spring statewide assessment.  All students in these grade levels participate in multiple reading and math multiple choice sections, with student in the fourth and eighth grade taking an additional science portion.  

How is it used?: PAWS is used to measure individual student achievement for the Wyoming Content and Performance Standards and the Wyoming Accountability in Education Act (WAEA) the statewide education accountability system. WAEA uses a set of measures to create an annual School Performance Report (SPR).  The results rate each school as; in need of improvement, meeting expectations, and exceeding expectations.

PAWS is conceptually constructed around an instructionally supportive design to include clear targets for instruction and informative reporting categories.  PAWS results provide skill-level reporting categories aligned to the Wyoming Content and Performance Standards as organized by the Wyoming Assessment Descriptions to assist teachers in interpreting and addressing specific academic needs of students.

Assessment results provide important information to all facets of the school community.
Policymakers, administrators, teachers, students, and parents use assessment information for a variety of purposes.  Collectively, these users make decisions about how well students are achieving, whether schools are functioning effectively for each child, and whether they are functioning well for all children collectively.

The test design for the PAWS includes content area assessments in reading, writing, mathematics, and science.  For reading, mathematics, and science, each test has two item types, selected-response items and constructed-response items.  The writing assessment is comprised of a student’s written response to two writing prompts.

Standard accommodations are allowed on the PAWS for students on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), for students on a 504 Plan or for English Language Learners (ELL). Selection of accommodations for the general assessment is the responsibility of a student’s(IEP team, 504 Plan committee or service providers for ELL.  Test accommodations make the test more accessible to these students without changing what the test measures.

More information about the PAWS assessment may be found on the Wyoming Department of Education website.