Wyoming is known for its beautiful national parks and remarkable landmarks. From Yellowstone's Old Faithful geyser to Devil's Tower, Wyoming is an outdoor enthusiast's playground. U.S. News and World Report also ranks it as the 14th best state for education. However, not all schools in Wyoming are successful or the best for students.
From test scores to academic progress and college readiness, there are many things to consider when deciding which elementary, middle, and high school is best for your child. Additionally, when it comes to ranking colleges, the primary concern is the graduation rate. As we discuss the schools below, keep in mind that while more than one source was used, our primary information was drawn from GreatSchools.org.
Bar Nunn Elementary School
2050 Siebke Dr, Bar Nunn, WY 82601
As a school in the Natrona County School District, Bar Nunn is part of the Casper Metropolitan area. This school scores a 1/10 on GreatSchools.org due to test scores, academic progress, and equity all being below the state average. Math, English, and science test scores rank at about 25% while the state average is around 50% in all three subjects. This suggests that students are beginning at a low level, and then continue to perform below their grade level compared to other schools in the state.
Low-income and underserved students are also performing at low rates compared to other students in the state. Low-income students at Bar Nunn are averaging a 9% test score, while the rest of the students are reaching 30%. This presents a large achievement gap at the school. This is especially alarming as 51% of the students come from low-income families, which means this school is struggling to adequately serve a large portion of its enrolled students.
Rossman Elementary School
1221 Rossman Ave, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501
Rossman Elementary School is part of Wyoming's Laramie County School District which is the largest district in the state. Similar to Bar Nunn Elementary, Rossman scores a 1/10 on GreatSchools.org. While academic progress is slightly higher, students are still underperforming compared to other schools in the state. Test scores are also well below average with math and science both falling to just 16%. The state average is at 52% and 50% comparatively.
Additionally, suspension rates are relatively high at this school, especially for students with disabilities. 6% of all students have been suspended at one point while the state average is only 4%. Even worse, students with disabilities have a 12% suspension rate while the state average is only 7%. Any time spent in suspension is a disadvantage to students as it takes time away from learning.
In good news, while Rossman has a higher low-income population (61%) compared to Bar Nunn, they seem to have better systems in place to help these students. GreatSchools.org ranks their academic progress at a 5/10 while all students only score a 2/10.
Johnson Junior High School
1236 W Allison Rd, Cheyenne, WY 82007
Also part of the Laramie County School District is the Johnson Junior High School. This school serves 7th- and 8th-graders in Cheyenne. GreatSchools gives this middle school an overall ranking of 2/10 due mainly to exceptionally low test scores. Students at this school fall well below the state average in three key subjects: English, math, and science. It's also worth noting that while students at this school have a high Algebra 1 passing rate, only 13% of students participate in the class. This is well below the state average of 23%.
Around 63% of students at Johnson Junior High School are classified as low-income, as well. The school doesn't seem to have a system in place to adequately serve these students as their average test scores are only 5% with the rest of the school averaging 12%. Suspension rates are also much higher here; 17% of students have been suspended at some point while the state average is only 4%. This could partially be due in part to the extremely high ratio of students per counselor. The state average is 333:1 while Johnson has a ratio of 625:1.
Carey Junior High School
3330 T-Bird Dr, Cheyenne, WY 82001
Carey Junior High School is also part of the Laramie County School District. While this school has adequate academic progress compared to a few other schools we've discussed here, its test scores are still below average. For example, math scores from Carey are averaging 41% proficiency while the state average is 48%.
Test scores and academic progress for low-income and underserved students are also very low at this school. This group of students has a 7% average test score while all other students are reaching 33%. There's also a huge gap in academic progress with low-income students scoring 8% and the rest of the students scoring 44%. This presents a large achievement gap between student groups at the school.
Like Johnson Junior High School, Carey has an incredibly large student-to-counselor ratio, too, at 627:1. However, this school has lower suspension rates, especially for students with disabilities.
Wyoming Indian High School
636 Blue Sky Hwy, Ethete, WY 82520
When it comes to ranking High Schools, an important factor to consider is college readiness. Are students prepared and ready for the next step in their educational journey? At Wyoming Indian High School, a school serving 9-12 grade on the Wind River Reservation, the students are only scoring a 1/10 in this category according to GreatSchools.org.
This is largely due to graduation rates, average ACT scores, and AP course participation. This school has a 51% graduation rate while the state average is 81%. And, while ACT scores are nearing average, less than 1% participate in AP courses. Additionally, only 25% of graduating students plan to pursue college or some form of vocational program. This is well below the state average of 61%.
While test scores are low compared to the state average, it's worth noting that the academic progress of students at this school does meet the state average. And, the student-to-teacher ratio is also low at only 9:1. However, only 50% of the teachers at this school have 3 or more years of experience. This lack of experience could lead to the low test scores and graduation rates we've discussed.
South High School
1213 W Allison Rd, Cheyenne, WY 82007
South High School enrolls over 1,000 students in grades 9-12 in the Laramie County School District. While this school has a higher overall rating than Wyoming Indian High School, test scores are well below average and college readiness isn't particularly great, either. While South High has average numbers in ACT scores and AP course participation, only 74% of students graduate.
Additionally, students struggle to keep up with their grade level compared to other schools in the state. Average English scores here are 27% while the state average is 51%. Math and science are also low at 21% and 27%, respectively. This could, in part, be due to the school having a slightly higher than average student-to-teacher ratio.
Suspension rates are also higher at South High than the state average. 9% of all students have faced suspension at one time along with 11% of students with disabilities.
Laramie County Community College
1400 E College Dr, Cheyenne, WY 82007
When considering which colleges are best and worst, the main considerations are graduation rate and job placement. It's worth noting that there are only 9 higher education institutes available in the state of Wyoming as a whole, so options are rather limited.
Laramie County Community College is ranked as the lowest-performing school due to its graduation rate only reaching 22.2% according to CollegeSimply.com. This small, community college is a publicly held 2-year school that enrolls roughly 3,800 students each year. Students are enrolled both part-time and full-time in the school's 55 different majors. However, the average salary following 10 years of graduation from this college is only $36,500.
Central Wyoming College
2660 Peck Ave, Riverton, WY 82501
Located in Riverton, Central Wyoming College is also a small community college that only provides 2-year degrees. The enrollment here is much lower than at Laramie County Community College, but the graduation rate is slightly higher at 25.4% according to CollegeSimply.com. Student tuition is very low, but keep in mind that the average salary 10 years after graduation is a mere $30,100 per year.
Choosing the Right Wyoming School for Your Child
While the schools discussed here are ranked lowest in the state according to GreatSchools.org, this doesn't mean everything about them is terrible. Many schools have pros and cons. And, when it comes to deciding what school is best for your student, you'll likely consider many factors such as location, extracurricular programs, class size, and cost. Also, be sure to review each school and consider test scores and academic progress, as well as college preparedness and graduation rates. Keep in mind that Wyoming still has several wonderful schools to choose from as well.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Ingo70/Shutterstock.com.