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Report Offers State Leaders a Five-Step Plan to Improve Computer Science in 2017

A report published by the Southern Regional Education Board last month is offering state leaders a five-step process to improve computer science within their state in 2017.

"The Southern Regional Education Board's Commission on Computer Science and Information Technology met in 2015 and 2016 to determine how states can help more young people—especially girls, black and Hispanic students, and students from low-income families— learn computer science, explore exciting computing careers, and for some, start journeys toward those careers while in high school," the report reads.

The conclusion of these meetings resulted in the five-step plan that can help states get started on this journey. The five steps are as follows:

1. Develop state computer science standards for K-12.

2. Lay the groundwork for learning computer science. This is differentiated from assigning standards in that it integrates computer science with other college- and career-ready goals. States who take the second step must "[s]upport K-12 academic and computer science teachers in designing interdisciplinary, project-based instruction and assignments that engage students in applying literacy, math and computational thinking skills to solve problems," the report says.

3. Create clear pathways to computing careers. This means identifying workforce needs in the field of computer science, including "computer science and computer science-related career pathways in state accountability and funding systems" and more.

4. Prepare great computer science teachers. Because, of course, in order to teach students computer science there must first be skilled teachers who can do so in a classroom. This means leading meaningful recruitment, offering teaching endorsements, using federal, state and private sector funds for ongoing professional development and partnering with other states/organizations to measure teachers' mastery of computer science content.

5. Educate communities about computer science and computing careers. The report encourages multi-level engagement of computer science goals for the five-step plan to stick.

The report reminds readers that minorities and women are extremely underrepresented in the current computer science community, and that this five-step plan should also focus on fixing this issue.

Highlighted in the report for their efforts are states like Arkansas, Alabama, Maryland and Kentucky, which each respectively have designed innovative strategies for preparing computer science teachers.

Read the full report here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

12/20/2016

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