One reason we have so much engineering and so little computer science taught at US high schools. | ACM Inroads

November 19, 2013 at 1:30 am 2 comments

Joe Kmoch wrote an interesting follow-on to my blog post about why we have so little CS ed in the US.  Why is that engineering is succeeding so much more than CS in high schools in the US?  He suggests that (in part) it’s because engineering is getting the PD right.

I think the reason is that groups like Project Lead the Way (PLTW) offer an “off the shelf” high quality program, vetted by engineers.  The attractiveness of this is that the school and students get access to a number of well-written up-to-date courses and they also get access to intensive professional development for teachers who want to teach a particular PLTW course.  Teachers must not only take but also pass the two-week intensive summer course before being allowed to teach a particular course.  There is regular monitoring of schools in terms of offering a minimal 3-course sequence of engineering courses and evaluating how well these courses are being taught.

In computer science we have really never had such a program available.  The AP is not such a program.  If a school wants to teach a computer science course, they have to find a teacher who is willing to put together a course syllabus, and then teach that course.  (For AP, the course must be audited for fidelity).  There really isn’t any professional development required to teach any kind of computer science course in most states.

via One reason we have so much engineering and so little computer science taught at US high schools. | ACM Inroads.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Garth  |  November 19, 2013 at 10:55 am

    That is hitting the nail on the head. There are a lot of on line programming courses that are self driven and result in microscopic completion rates. A skilled teacher is an absolute must if for nothing else than to keep a little pressure on the kids to stay on task and complete assignments. That “skilled” is the major issue at the moment. I do not think a 2 week summer course will generate “skilled” CS teachers but it would be a start.

    Reply
  • 2. Freeman Crouch (@freemancrouch)  |  November 26, 2013 at 9:48 am

    I agree; it needs a skilled *teacher*. To be clear, I don’t think that this needs to be a professional level software dev. I think that a good math teacher who’s had a couple of programming courses could teach a beautiful, buzzword-compliant, up-to-date and reasonably complete secondary CS curriculum, if there were such a thing.

    Reply

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