In December 2015, Congress passed the new Every Student Succeeds Act, which expanded educational standards to include computer science as a core subject in K through 12 classrooms across the country. To provide support for this initiative, President Obama recently announced the Computer Science for All Initiative, which incorporates technology in education. What does the Computer Science For All Initiative mean for public schools? Here’s a rundown of the initiative and how schools can support computer science (CS) learning.
What The Initiative Brings
The goal of Obama’s Computer Science for All Initiative is to equip K-12 students in public schools with computational thinking skills in order to encourage careers in computer science and related fields. In our technology-driven culture and economy, teaching students basic CS and providing them with tools to succeed in CS will give them economic and social mobility as they grow. However, as many as 22 states, do not allow computer science classes in schools to count towards students graduation requirements. This initiative will change the environment and culture around CS, turning it into a standard rather than a luxury for public schools.
The initiative calls for $4 billion in funding for states and $100 million given directly to school districts in an upcoming budget. The money will expand training for teachers in CS fields, provide instructional materials for students, and help to build and sustain regional partnerships to support the CS learning goals. In addition, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Corporation for National And Community Service (CNCS) are joining the cause by providing $135 million to computer science funding this year.
Overall, this initiative focuses on making computer science a subject that should be implemented in all public schools, giving students an opportunity to learn the skills that can transform them into future developers, scientists, and creators. Most importantly, the initiative hopes to target underprivileged demographics that enter computer science field at low rates (especially women and students from African-American and/or Latino backgrounds).
Already, more than 60 school districts have committed to providing access to computer science classes for their students. State education departments in Delaware and Hawaii have begun to already integrate CS classes across their public education system. With the growing support and need for STEM students and professionals, it is likely that computer science will become a supported standard across the United States.
Technological Tools Needed for Computer Science Classrooms
The most important component for a school district to begin a successful computer science program is to have the right infrastructure in place. Teachers need to be adequately trained, instructional materials should be provided, access to Advanced Placement Computer Science classes should be provided, and a CS curriculum needs support from administration and faculty. The initiative provides funding for schools and districts that need this institutional support.
In addition, students will need not only a supportive environment but the technical tools for computer science learning. All schools need a variety of applications and devices to help students develop and create code and software across multiple platforms. For example, while a Chromebook can run and support various types of coding programs and resources, having an iPad, iPhone or Android tablet can help students learn about programming for these devices and allow them to test their creations in the classroom.
Students are also likely to need earbuds, headphones, or headsets in order to complete their CS courses. Many software programs, online lessons, and collaborative exercises require listening and responding to an online teacher mentor, or group. Having these tools on hand will allow for individual learning and collaborative opportunities in-class and online.
Overall, the Computer Science for All Initiative will become an important component of our educational system. To help you prepare for the initiative and provide the quality tools needed for your students, contact us. We can provide your classroom with the necessary tools for a budding computer science program.