The RIDE survey results have been released

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Tanya Baer, [email protected]

Wyoming- The Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center at the University of Wyoming created a survey as part of the Reimagining and Innovating the Delivery of Education (RIDE) project. RIDE was tasked with studying and developing recommendations to improve Wyoming’s primary and secondary education system. Now, the results of the survey have been released.

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The survey was taken by 7,705 Wyoming residents, and 52% of them identified themselves as parents. Other groups identified were school district employees, concerned citizens, retired educators, current students, former students, and employers. When asked if survey takers felt that the current way children are being educated for the future, 59% of them answered “no” and 41% answered “yes”. The biggest group to answer yes were school district employees at 48%.

Those that responded “yes” could pick what ways that current education helps students prepare for life after school and the top categories included: learning outcomes and expectations, college and university preparation, broad and well-rounded education, STEM subjects, and Technology and virtual learning. Those that responded “no” also picked topics, but this time it was topics that they felt that the current education system was lacking on and the top categories included: life skills, class content and structure, learning outcomes and expectations, and admin distractions (requirements). Some of these top categories compared were: learning outcomes and expectations where only 28.5% of survey takers responded with a “yes” that the current education system prepared students for this, and 44.3% of survey takers responded with “no”, and class content and structure with 17.5% of survey takers stating they felt this helped students and 33.1% stating “no”.

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When asked for suggestions on how to improve the system, those that responded “yes” and “no” both focused the most on suggestions involving learning outcomes and expectations, and overall teacher feedback. One response stated, “While measuring student learning outcomes are essential, achievement testing is not an ideal way to assess student competency. Small classroom sizes that afford teachers a greater opportunity to work closer with students. Rather than force students to track either college bound or vocational bound which are both employment focused, facilitate opportunities for children to explore various areas of interest, e.g. helping them figure out what they are interested in, competent in or motivated about.” – Survey Response

Another response written said, “Our educators do a phenomenal job given the diminished resources and declining number of educators. What would benefit our education system is diversification of our economy to fully fund education in Wyoming, not cut corners by cutting costs and then expecting better student achievement results. Our state’s economy and the state itself should catch up to our education system, our education system should not be brought down to the level of the state.” – Survey Response

A common theme brought up in quite a few suggestions focused on life skills and focusing on preparing students for finding jobs after their education. When asked what innovative or exciting ideas survey takers had for improving the current system, most suggestions involved class content and structure, and overall teacher feedback. One survey taker responded with, “Use a variety of methods in delivering instruction. Hands on, direct, using technology, peer-mentorship… Keep things going but remain personal and let kids know that educators value their students and have a vested interest for them and their future.” – Survey Respondent.

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Barely over 4% of survey takers talked about mental health in the current education system, but one suggestion made by a survey taker said, “MENTAL HEALTH STUDIES. Our kids are suffering at a devastating rate from mental health incompetence and the ‘cowboy up’ mentality. They need to learn about HEALTHY coping techniques and that it is okay to struggle and ask for help and not only when they exhibit physical signs of distress and go to the school counselor. Teach them to talk about it openly. We can only do so much at home when they are at school for 7-8 hours a day.” – Survey Respondent.

So what’s next? RIDE will be hosting listening sessions around the state including two in Rock Springs on June 15 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. and another on June 16 from 7-8:30 a.m. Click here to register. Parents, students, educators, business, industry and other interested people are encouraged to attend those sessions to participate in the conversation. The discussions at those listening sessions will build on the results of the survey, and seek to refine the information collected so far into a set of recommendations to the Governor for specific actions to improve the education system.

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