Wyoming Excels
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Policy Priorities

Policy Priorities:

  • Computer Science – In the digital economy, computer science literacy and computational thinking are necessary life skills for economic opportunity and social mobility.  Yet, only 12% of Wyoming schools with AP programs offered an AP Computer Science course in 2016-2017 and Wyoming ranked last in the nation for number of students taking and passing the AP Computer Science Exam (Code.org).  Wyoming has 287 open computing jobs, which represents a $18,145,001 opportunity in annual salaries (Code.org).  Expansion of computer science at every grade level not only provides students with “basic” life skills, but also supports job growth and innovation in Wyoming’s economy.
    • Field Guide on Computer Science in Wyoming
    • Senate File 0029: Education-Computer Science and Computational Thinking
      • Adds computer science and computational thinking to the state's education program and requires the State Board of Education to adopt content and performance standards.
    • http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/SF0029.pdf
    • SEA#0048: Education - Computer Science & Computational Thinking Highlights
      • Computer science is now listed in the common core of knowledge, which will required to be taught by all K-12 schools no later than 2022-2023 school year.
      • Computational thinking is now listed in common core of skills, which will require school districts to integrate computational thinking into K-12 courses.
      • The State Board of Education must promulgate computer science content standards.
      • Students may count computer science toward one year of their science graduation requirements.
      • Students may count computer science toward one year of math or science for the state scholarship requirements (Hathaway Scholarship Program).
      • The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) is required to conduct a study to determine what it will cost for all school districts to offer computer science.
      • The WDE is required to work with the Professional Teaching Standards Board (PTSB) to continue to work on computer science endorsements for elementary, middle and high school teachers.
  • Educator Training & Professional Development – High quality initial educator preparation and on-going professional development opportunities for P-12 educators that elevate the craft and empower educators to be agile and innovative are necessary for the education system to be responsive to an ever-evolving, increasingly connected world and to produce high school graduates who are among the most skilled and best educated in the nation.
  • Skills Gap –  A national study found that 92% of business leaders think there is a skills gap and 44% think Americans are lacking soft skills (Adecco).  As industries evolve, soft skills like communication, punctuality, empathy, dependability, and teamwork will matter a great deal, perhaps more than technical qualifications that can be readily acquired through on the job training.  The lack of skilled workers in Wyoming will result in less investment, which stifles growth opportunities, hurts product development, and reduces profits.  Data-driven decision-making to better align workforce and education investments with employer skill needs will help close the gap and secure Wyoming’s future.
    • Wyoming Excels is working with the Department of Workforce Services and Wyoming Business Council on the Next Generation Sector Partnerships.  The Next Generation Sector Partnerships are a proven, step-by-step model that brings industry, education, workforce development, economic development and community organizations together to address the needs of a targeted industry.  It is an industry driven, community supported approach that works on needed solutions and interventions to keep industry strong and get people jobs.
"Teens who work or enroll in career exploration opportunities have higher test scores, better grades, lower dropout rates, better postsecondary enrollment rates, lower teen birth rates, and are less involved in the criminal justice system than their peers."  (Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University)

 

  • Read-By-Three – Illiteracy creates a gap between the workforce and business needs, decreasing productivity and profits.  Only 41 percent of Wyoming 4th graders tested proficient or above on the NAEP 2015 assessment.  Students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times likelier to drop out of high school (Annie E. Casey Foundation) and two out of three students who don’t read proficiently by fourth grade are likely to end up in jail or on welfare (Literacy Inc.).