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New Guide Shows Importance of Computer Science Education to Wyoming's Economy

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CHEYENNE, Wyo.- Expanding computer science at every grade level is critical to producing a workforce ready to meet the current and future needs of Wyoming businesses, according to Computer Science in Wyoming, a guide issued by Wyoming Excels.

Wyoming Excels, in partnership with the Wyoming Department of Education, developed the 16-page guide to provide information about computer science definitions, the role of K-12 education, and available career opportunities.  Wyoming Excels, a nonprofit, is a program of the Wyoming Heritage Foundation and is funded through a grant by the Daniels Fund. The report is available on our policy priorities page or download the PDF here.

"Computer science and computational thinking in K-12 education are necessary pathways for Wyoming students to obtain basic life skills and be prepared for existing and future jobs in Wyoming," said Amber Ash, executive director of Wyoming Excels. "Through this guide, we hope to demonstrate why computer science education is so vital to the state's business community and efforts to diversify our economy."

Computer science is often confused with basic computer literacy skills like learning how to access the Internet and using software. Computer science, however, is focused on understanding why computers work and how to create those technologies, which provides the basis for a deep understanding of computer use.

Computer science careers, among the highest paying in the U.S., are more than just coding and can be found in industries throughout the Cowboy State. The guide includes several Wyoming examples of how existing industries like natural gas, trucking, services, and medical employ workers with a computer science background.

In fact, Wyoming currently has 287 open computing jobs, which is 3.3 times the average demand rate in Wyoming, according to numbers released by Code.org. Those existing open jobs represent an $18,145,001 opportunity in terms of annual salaries.

Computer science is a top paying college degree and computer programming jobs are growing at two times the national average, according to the Wyoming Department of Education. Plus, the average salary for computing occupations is $63,223 compared to $46,840 average salary in Wyoming, according to the Wyoming Department of Education.

"If Wyoming would like to be included in the digital economy, we need to invest in having computer science as part of the core curriculum," Ash said. "Having more students graduating with computing skills would make Wyoming an attractive market for business innovation, attraction, and growth."

According to Code.org, Wyoming is ranked last in the nation for numbers of students taking and passing the AP Computer Science Exam. Only five Wyoming schools offered approved AP Computer Science Course in 2016-2017, and only 21 students took the AP Computer Science exams. 

The number of Wyoming schools offering approved AP Computer Science courses increased to seven in 2017-2018. Those schools included: Central High School in Cheyenne, East High School in Cheyenne, South High School in Cheyenne, Hot Springs County High School in Thermopolis, Kelly Walsh High School in Casper, Sheridan High School in Sheridan, and Wyoming Connections Academy in Cody.

 
On January 24, 2018, Wyoming Excels visited Sheridan to learn about the Improving Wyoming Schools Initiative.  Excels got to observe the Professional Learning Centers framework and Principal Academy model.

On January 24, 2018, Wyoming Excels visited Sheridan to learn about the Improving Wyoming Schools Initiative.  Excels got to observe the Professional Learning Centers framework and Principal Academy model.

 
On January 22, 2018, Wyoming Excels hosted its first business meeting in Rock Springs, Wyoming.  Over 30 people from the business and education communities were in attendance. 

On January 22, 2018, Wyoming Excels hosted its first business meeting in Rock Springs, Wyoming.  Over 30 people from the business and education communities were in attendance. 

 
On December 5, 2017, Governor Matt Mead signed a proclamation declaring December 4-10 as Computer Science Education Week in Wyoming.

On December 5, 2017, Governor Matt Mead signed a proclamation declaring December 4-10 as Computer Science Education Week in Wyoming.

 

 
 

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