WDE receives federal grant to strengthen computer science education

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (RELEASE) - The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) is one of nine entities across the country to be awarded federal grant money for Career and Technical Education (CTE); the WDE will receive $489,714 over the next three years to strengthen Computer Science education across the state.

The WDE will use the Innovation & Modernization Grant, a Perkins V program, to implement its Boot Up Wyoming initiative to bring Computer Science and computational thinking to every Wyoming classroom by 2022. To do that, the WDE will create Computer Science micro-credentials for teachers to improve instruction in the field. Additionally, the WDE will revise the micro-credentials to create a way for students to earn both high school credit and industry certification.

“This grant boosts our ability to ensure that Wyoming graduates are ready for college, a career, or military service,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Computer Science education is relevant and imperative for every student. Wyoming is at the forefront of making sure the next generation is well-prepared for jobs that are ever-changing because of technology, and for jobs that don’t yet exist - but they will."

Of the 64 eligible grant proposals reviewed for this competition, only nine were funded. The WDE’s proposal received one of the highest rankings from panels made up of reviewers with expertise in CTE and STEM education. The WDE will use the grant to help serve school districts in rural communities, and has already formed partnerships to make sure these under-served areas develop Computer Science curriculum.

Project partners include:
• Carbon County School District #1
• Fremont County School District #14
• Uinta County School District #1
• University of Wyoming
• Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board
• Wyoming Workforce Development Council
• Computer Science Teachers Association, Wyoming Chapter
• American Institutes for Research

"We know that access to high-quality Career and Technical Education options can open up new pathways to success for students," said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in announcing the grant recipients. "It's gratifying to see each of these grantees rethinking education and modernizing workforce training in their communities to ensure students have the skills they need for in-demand, high-paying jobs."

The funds will assist districts that serve students in Qualified Opportunity Zones. These zones are designed to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities throughout the country by providing tax benefits to investors who invest eligible capital into these communities.