Big Horn 1 schools excel in testing scores

Ryan Fitzmaurice
When the State of Wyoming released standardized testing scores in September, the brick and mortar schools of Big Horn County School District No. 1 received almost universally good news.

Big Horn No. 1 schools topped the state in nearly every WY-TOPP category,  with Burlington students scoring above the state across all 19 WY-TOPP assessments. ACT scores were even more favorable, with both Burlington and Rocky schools scoring above the state in every metric and Burlington landing the highest composite score across all schools in the state.

“At District One we have a great team of educators that have been working hard for all students,” Curriculum Director Ryan Boettcher said. “It has been nice over the past three years since COVID to be able to string together some solid cohort data to help drive our decision making and instruction. In general, we have had a nice upward trend to our data, and we are working to continue that trend.”


WY-TOPP scores are reported based on grade levels from the year prior, and comparisons are made for the same class or cohort on how they tested in the 2021-22 year as compared to 2022-23. 

Last year’s sophomores grew from 59 percent last year to 76 percent in English Language Arts.

The ninth grade of last year increased from 42 percent to 66 percent in math while the eighth grade improved from 47 percent to 66 percent. The sixth grade saw an increase from 45 percent to 62 percent. The class also saw their score improve from 64 percent to 71 percent in ELA.

Last year’s fourth grade also made big gains, moving from 47 percent to 59 percent in math and from 38 percent to 59 percent in ELA.

ELA was an especially strong area for Rocky in WY-TOPP testing this year, with high proficiency rates being seen across the district. Last year’s sixth grade scored 71 percent proficient, the seventh grade scored 78 percent proficient, the eighth grade scored 74 percent proficient and the 10th grade scored 76 percent. 

Science scores, reported based on current fourth, eighth and 10th grade classes, all improved or stayed steady from previous years, from 48 percent to 65 percent for the fourth grade, from 65 to 69 percent for the eighth grade and the 10th grade increased from 60 to 69 percent. 

Rocky Mountain students scored above the state average in 16 out of the 19 assessments given. 

Rocky ACT

For the graduating class of 2024, Rocky saw increases in every area of the ACT.

Rocky Mountain scored a 19.5 in English, an increase from an 18.9 score last year; a 20.8 in math, an increase from 19.5 last year; a 20.4 in science, an increase from a 19.3 score; and a 19.7 in reading, up from 19.4 last school year.

Overall, the school’s composite score was 20.2, up from 19.4. The state average was an 18.8 composite score. Rocky scored above the state in every subject level. 

“We did show a nice increase in ACT averages across the board as compared to previous years but in reality, while it is convenient to compare kids from year to year, each cohort is really a unique group,” Boettcher said. “We mainly look to try and make sure we stay at or above the state average each year for that year’s cohort. This year the district distanced themselves from state averages by the greatest margin across the board that we have seen since we have been tracking this data over the past 11 years.”

Burlington WY-TOPP

Burlington saw across the board within the recently-released WY-TOPP scores.

Last year’s Burlington sophomores increased their math score from 67 percent to 76 percent and their ELA score from an 86 percent to an impressive 100 percent score. Last year’s freshman class increased their math score from 67 percent to 77 percent.

The eighth grade improved their ELA score from 62 percent to 77 percent and the seventh grade saw an increase in their math score, growing from 77 percent to 85 percent. The class’s ELA score also grew from 69 percent to 85 percent. 

The fourth grade also showed improvement, advancing from 77 percent proficient to 85 percent. 

Scores were again proficient across every grade. In math the third grade scored 83 percent proficient, the fourth grade 80 percent, the seventh grade 85 percent, with the ninth grade at 77 percent and the 10th grade scoring a 76 percent. 

In ELA, last year’s  fourth grade scored an 85 percent, the sixth grade a 79 percent, the seventh grade an 85 percent, the eighth grade a 77 percent, and the ninth grade a 92 percent, leading to the perfect proficiency score by the sophomore class. 

In science, the fourth grade scored an 80 percent and the 10th grade scored a 76 percent. 

Burlington ACT

Burlington continued their universally high scores in the ACT.

In English, the school scored a 24.1, up from 22 last year. In math the school scored a 21.6, up from 20 last year. In science, the score increased from 21.4 last year to 22.8. In reading, the score improved from 21.5 to 24.1. The overall composite score was a 23.3, nearly five points over the state average. 

“In general, we had a great effort from our students on the ACT,” Boettcher said. “We are thankful for the time and pride the teachers put into preparing our students for this assessment.”

Burlington selected as high performing school

Due to their strong performance across the years, Burlington has received the opportunity to work with the Wyoming State board of Education and Marzano Research to conduct a study of the state accountability system for schools, known as the Wyoming Accountability in Education Act, Boettcher said. 

Burlington has been chosen as a positive outlier by the state, meaning they outperform schools within the state that share similar demographics. They are one of only 10 schools in the state selected to take place in the study.

“The study aims to provide information about what and how the WAEA model may influence educators and community members, if and how schools use WAEA information for decision making, if and how the public perceives and acts on WAEA information and other factors that influence school success,” Boettcher said.