Teachers immersed in problem-based learning professional development in preparation for teaching computer science.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Dr. Dale F Reed, Permanent Lecturer in Computer Science, University of Illinois at Chicago
Computer science has become a new basic skill, essential in order to excel in an increasingly computational and data-intensive world.
However, access to computer science (CS) at the K-12 levels remains limited. CS is taught in less than 25 percent of U.S. high schools. Rural and high-need schools are even less likely to offer it. Moreover, in schools that do offer CS, students of color and girls often participate in very low numbers.
But this is changing through a groundswell of interest in CS education at the state, city and local levels.
President Obama in his 2016 State of the Union address laid out a goal of expanding computer science in schools across the country, saying, "In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by ... offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one."
Today, the White House announced a new initiative, CS for All, that aims to give all students in the U.S. the opportunity to learn CS, with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Education serving as the lead federal agencies.
"CS for All builds on NSF's investments in developing, piloting and assessing materials and resources for computer science education, and on the growing momentum for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education more broadly, that is taking hold across the country, " said NSF Director France Córdova. "We are proud to play a leading role in this new initiative."
As part of the CS for All initiative:
NSF is committing $120 million over five years to accelerate its efforts to enable rigorous and engaging CS education in schools across the nation. These funds will support the development of prototypes of instructional materials, assessments, scalable and sustainable professional development models, and teacher resources, along with research to study their effectiveness. The acceleration of these efforts could enable as many as 9, 000 additional high-school teachers to be well prepared to teach CS over the next five years.
NSF and the Department of Education will co-fund an effort to prototype professional development for Career and Technical Education (CTE) educators who teach computer science. Using and testing a cascade model, this effort will create a first cohort of educators who will provide additional CTE computer science professional development across the country.
NSF and the Department of Defense (DoD) will collaborate with the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) to support implementation of the new Advanced Placement® CS Principles framework, through new teacher and student support interventions, at 200 DoD-related NMSI sites across the country.
NSF will collaborate with the private sector to support professional development for high-school CS teachers. As part of its $120 million investment in CS for All, NSF will provide $5 million to pilot new approaches for scalable and sustainable professional development in schools across the U.S. At the same time, funding from industry partners will enable teachers to attend these pilot programs. This partnership will eventually provide opportunities for as many as 2, 000 teachers to deepen their understanding of CS.
For nearly a decade, NSF has led the effort to build the research foundations required to implement rigorous and engaging academic computer science instruction in U.S. schools, much of it focused at the high-school level.