By 2022, all Wyoming school districts are mandated to offer computer science courses. To help make this possible, the Wyoming Department of Education has launched a new program to create standards, develop curriculum and train teachers. It’s called Boot Up Wyoming 2022.
Guaranteed access to computer science for K-12 students across Wyoming has been a priority for Governor Matt Mead and State Superintendent Jillian Balow. This year, the Wyoming Legislature added it to the state educational program. Lawmakers did not, however, allocate funds to support this initiative.
Balow said over the next five years the WDE will visit all 48 districts to analyze what schools need, and the associated costs, in order to meet new computer science standards.
“We need that much time,” said Balow. “We’ll have a lot of help from the schools and districts that are already doing it, from the tech industry and from other states, but we’re building this from the ground up, and we want to make sure we do it right.”
Balow said it will take two years to create statewide standards, and then districts will have three years to implement the new curriculum, and schools can start earlier if staff is prepared to do so.
The goal is to train 500 teachers in order to fully implement a statewide computer science program. Balow said during the last legislative session there was a misconception that districts would need to hire additional teachers.
“The best analogy that I can use is kind of like a coaching endorsement,” explained Balow. “Teachers who are interested in teaching computer science will work through requirements and recommendations put forth by the Professional Teaching Standards Board to basically add onto their current teaching licensure and teach computer science.”
Several non-profits and tech companies have volunteered to support training teachers. Balow said it’s still likely a small group of specialized teachers will be hired.
Boot Up 2022 seeks varying degrees of public input. Educators, community members, parents and industry representatives are invited to apply to join the Computer Science Standards Review Committee. You can also contribute input online or at one of the regional community meetings happening from 6-8 p.m. at the following locations:
May 14, Central Admin. Building, 665 N. Tyler Street, Pinedale
May 15, Park #1 Support Services Building, 245 N. Evarts Street, Powell
May 15, Central Admin. Building, 3500 Foothill Blvd., Rock Springs
May 16, Central Admin. Building, 201 N. Connor Street, Sheridan
May 16, Laramie #1 Storey Gym, 2811 House Avenue, Cheyenne
May 17, Natrona #1 Central Services Facility, 970 N. Glenn Road, Casper