For the first time the Wyoming Department of Education, Wyoming's community colleges and the University of Wyoming are teaming up to share data that will reveal what helps and hinders students on their journey through the state's education system.
Sandy Caldwell is executive director of the Wyoming Community College Commission and a strong advocate for data sharing that she said will help better support students. Caldwell said the new agreement prioritizes protecting individual students' privacy while allowing educators to answer questions about student outcomes overtime.
"What's actually happening with students? Where do they go? Where do they not go? What happens in the transitions? How can we better focus energy and resources in areas where there might challenges?" Caldwell added the goal is, "to look at that from a strategic perspective."
Caldwell said the agreement was a multi-year effort but couldn't have come at a better time. In August, Governor Matt Mead established the Executive Educational Attainment Council which aims to increase the level of education and training of the state's workforce.
Wyoming Department of Education Communications Director Kari Eakins explained that while Wyoming has a high percentage of adults with high school diplomas, there are fewer adults with advanced degrees — be they certificates or doctoral degrees — compared to other states.
"By sharing this data, hopefully, all around we'll be able to serve students better, to be able to meet their needs," said Eakins. "So they can get whatever that post-secondary credential may be for them to achieve success."
Eakins said the new data sharing protocol will help the state better address the root of achievement gaps and make sure programs like the Hathaway Scholarship expand opportunities for students.