Wyoming passes forward-thinking computer science education bill


With a population of just 579,315, Wyoming is positioning itself to become a leader in one of the fastest-growing industries in the world: cybersecurity.

Gov. Matt Mead’s signature on Senate File 29 on Wednesday afternoon finalized a three-year process for transforming the state into one of the biggest promoters of K-12 computer science education in the country.

The law has several functions, the most important of which is adding computer science to the state’s Common Core. Every K-12 school in the state will be required to teach computer science no later than 2022-23 school year.

State Superintendent Jillian Balow told EdScoop that she intends to aggressively pursue this goal. She wants 500 teachers to be trained to teach computer science in the next five years.

The State Board of Education is still considering what content standards to implement, Balow says. Some schools in Wyoming already offer computer science, and Balow said she intends to gather stakeholder, student, teacher and industry opinions from schools already making progress to inform final decisions.

Nonetheless, Balow is excited about the future. Wyoming had no computer science requirements prior to Wednesday, like many other states across the country, but Balow believes that the new law really is “one of the most ambitious movements in the nation for computer science education.”

“Other states have implemented parts of computer science,” she said. “Some states have standards for computer science education, some require computer science education in school, some states that have it count towards a math or science credit, and we have all of that.”

The current state of computer science education around the country is a complex one. While Virginia became the first state to require computer science education in K-12 schools late last year, 2017 saw many states adopt different initiatives to promote standards, and the trend seems likely to continue in 2018.

Balow says Wyoming is ahead of the curve.

“I feel strongly that this is a skill that seems far out right now,” she said, “but will be the basic underpinning of tomorrow’s world and tomorrow’s workforce.”