The National Reporting System for Adult Education performance reports ranked Wyoming seventh nationally for its Adult Education program for fiscal year 2017/18. Operated by the state’s community colleges, the program served nearly 1,900 Wyoming adults in fiscal year 2018/19, more than the largest high school in the state. Of those participating, 468 adults received their high school equivalency certificates. Northern Wyoming Community College District served 170 in its adult education program during fiscal year 2018/19 and 140 participants in fiscal year 2019/20. According to NWCCD President Dr. Walter Tribley, the program is a key part of the community college mission.
“Adult education is vital to helping Wyomingites reach higher levels of education, and many of these students go on to pursue certificates and associate degrees,” said Tribley. “Because these programs are housed at our community colleges, it makes the transition smoother as they are more aware of support services available and already know some familiar faces.”
Over the last several years, adult programming in the state has become more than a high school equivalency certificate program. It prepares Wyoming adults to engage in skills training and postsecondary education and is closely aligned with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services and the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.
In addition, the number of 16 to 18 year-old students enrolling in Adult Education has dropped, correlating to increasing high school graduation rates, while the program continues to enroll significant numbers of students in the 25 to 44 age group.
NWCCD’s program reflects these numbers, with 42% of student participants in fiscal year 2018/19 between 25 and 44 years old.
“This often overlooked impact of community colleges is extremely important to helping Wyoming reach educational attainment goals and in turn strengthen our state’s economy,” said Tribley.
Former Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead issued an executive order in 2018 calling for 67% of Wyoming’s working-age population to hold postsecondary certificates or degrees by 2025. According to the Post-secondary Educational Attainment 5- and 10-Year Strategic Plan created by Wyoming’s Educational Attainment Executive Council and Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education Attainment Task Force, the current post-secondary attainment stands at 46% of the adult population having a postsecondary credential above a high school diploma.