Posts tagged ‘CS10K’
The University of Chicago has released their latest study on the state of CS Education in US high schools. This one is a survey of CS teachers around the country, and Baker Franke introduces the study on the CSTA Blog.
Two things stood out to me when I looked at survey results. First, computer science teachers, despite still reporting that they are the only CS teacher (or one of a few) in their community, reported feeling supported by their schools and administration. This was completely surprising to me. (Perhaps, it is the self-selecting nature of survey respondents, who are more likely to feel happy, satisfied and proud of the fact that they teach CS.) But, maybe this is evidence that the advocacy work of CSTA has been working and the shifting public view of computer science education has led to more schools supporting the teaching of computer science.
Second, we have a real problem with misconceptions about computer science, still, in 2013. And as the survey results show, as a community, we are still not on the same page about what computer science education is either. At the moment, the word “code” is gaining attention as the stuff students should learn with computers, and whatever stigma used to be attached to programming seems to be dissipating – which is good. But we have a long way to go in clarifying what a high-quality, rigorous computer science education is and that that includes more that just programming.
I’ve mentioned before how much we need schools of education to guarantee the future stability of computing education. The new CSTA report on certification makes the point better than I do.
I just wrote a Blog@CACM post explaining why we in CS need collaboration with schools of education. We don’t want to be in the business of certifying teachers. We certainly do not have the background to prepare teachers for a lifelong career in education. That’s what pre-service education faculty do.
How we get from here to there is an interesting question. Michelle Friend suggests that we start by finding (or getting hired) faculty in science and mathematics education who are interested in starting computing programs. Few schools would be willing to take the risk of establishing computing education programs or departments today. They might exist one day, but they’ll probably grow out of math or science ed — just as many CS departments grew out of math or science or engineering roots.
Given that (in the US) we lose close to 50% of our STEM teachers within the first five years of teaching, we have to establish reliable production of CS teachers, if we don’t want CS10K to be only CS5K five years later. To establish that reliable production, we need schools of education.
The scientific community must also do the same, by convincing the public that it is worth spending tax dollars on research. Scientists: this isn’t someone else’s job – this is your job, starting immediately. If you personally hope to receive government research funds in the future, public engagement is now part of your job description. And if you and your colleagues don’t convincingly make the case to the public that your discipline should be funded, well then it won’t be. Without a public broadly supportive of funding science, it is all too easy for politicians looking for programs to cut to single out esoteric-sounding research programs as an excuse to further slash science funding.
The National Council on Teacher Quality and US News and World Report have released a state-by-state report on teacher preparation — and it’s pretty dismal. I’ve copied some of the top “take-aways” below.
In countries where students outperform the U.S., teacher prep schools recruit candidates from the top third of the college-going population. The Review found only one in four U.S. programs restricts admissions to even the top half of the college-going population.
A large majority of programs (71 percent) are not providing elementary teacher candidates with practical, research-based training in reading instruction methods that could reduce the current rate of reading failure (30 percent) to less than 10 percent of the student population.
Only 11 percent of elementary programs and 47 percent of secondary programs are providing adequate content preparation for teachers in the subjects they will teach.
There is some significant critique of the NCTQ study, particularly on its methodology. This is from Diane Ravitch’s blog:
NCTQ is not a professional association. It did not make site visits. It made its harsh judgments by reviewing course syllabi and catalogs. The criteria that it rated as most important was the institution’s fidelity to the Common Core standards.
As Rutgers’ Bruce Baker pointed out in his response, NCTQ boasts of its regard for teachers but its review of the nation’s teacher-training institutions says nothing about faculty. They don’t matter. They are irrelevant. All that matters is what is in the course catalog.
I’d rather see the NCTQ study as pointing out problems for computing education programs to avoid. Given the results coming in from the UChicago Landscape study, I doubt if we’re doing much better now in computer science. From a positive perspective, the best practices identified in the NCTQ report can inform what we do in computing education teacher professional development. As Jeanne Century said at SIGCSE this last year, one advantage we have is that we’re starting from a pretty much clean slate — there’s not much out there. We can try to build it right from the start.
The piece linked below is about why Teach for America should fold, but the argument being made is the same for why TEALS is not a useful strategy for the long-term health of computing education in the United States. We need to build up our corps of veteran computer science teachers. Using professional IT workers as stop-gap measures means that there’s no incentive to develop those veteran teachers, and means that we’re not spending our efforts in teacher professional development that will pay off over the long-term.
The other problem is the wasted investment a school makes in a teacher who leaves after just a few years. Sadly, I’m a poster child for this. I remember my last day at my school in Colorado, as I made the rounds saying goodbye to veteran teachers, my friends and colleagues who had provided me such crucial support and mentorship. As I talked of my plans for law school in Chicago, and they bade me best wishes, I felt an overwhelming wave of guilt. Their time and energy spent making me a better teacher – and I was massively better on that day compared to my first – was for naught. The previous summer I had spent a week of training, paid for by my school, to learn to teach pre–Advanced Placement classes. I taught the class for a year; presumably, I thought, someone else would have to receive the same training – or, worse, someone else would not receive the same training. All that work on classroom management and understanding of the curriculum, all the support in connecting with students and writing lesson – it would all have to begin again with a new teacher.
Congratulations to Owen Astrachan and Amy Briggs for achieving the goal of CS:Principles being declared “AP.” This is going to be important for attracting teachers to take CS:Principles professional development.
To help ensure that more high school students are prepared to pursue postsecondary education in computer science, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is making a four-year, $5.2 million grant to the College Board’s Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) to fund the creation of AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP).
Barbara Ericson just found out that several teachers have dropped out from a professional development workshop that we’re offering next week. This means that we have some (limited) funding for travel available, and hotel rooms already booked, so we’re trying to get the word out broadly to fill those (very last minute) slots. Below is the message that she sent to teachers in Georgia. We’ll take teachers from other states as well.
The workshop is on CS Principles Big Ideas from June 17-21st at Georgia Tech. Rebecca Dovi is leading this workshop. She is one of the CS:Principles pilot teachers. She has created many interesting activities for teaching CS Principles and will be sharing those activities. See http://supercomputerscience.blogspot.com for her blog.
We still have hotel rooms available for attendees. We pay for parking and lunch for all attendees. We have limited funds to reimburse for travel as well. You can register at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CSP2013-BigIdeas
For more information on the workshop, see http://coweb.cc.gatech.edu/ice-gt/2175
This caught my eye as something that we really need to push computing education. For CS10K to be successful, we need a mesh of education research with public policy work. That’s what ECEP is about. In particular, this kind of multiple stakeholders work is what I think that the U. Chicago Landscape Study is pointing toward.
“Design-Based Implementation Research applies design-based perspectives and methods to address and study problems of implementation…DBIR challenges education researchers to break down barriers between sub-disciplines of educational research that isolate those who design and study innovations within classrooms from those who study the diffusion of innovations.”
From the Introduction to the forthcoming NSSE Yearbook, Design-Based Implementation Research: Theories, methods, and exemplars.
This web site presents resources related to an emerging model of research and development called Design-Based Implementation Research (DBIR). DBIR has four key principles:
- a focus on persistent problems of practice from multiple stakeholders’ perspectives
- a commitment to iterative, collaborative design
- a concern with developing theory related to both classroom learning and implementation through systematic inquiry
- a concern with developing capacity for sustaining change in systems
I just did a Blog@CACM post on my experiences at three meetings over the last two weeks, learning about efforts to get computing into primary and secondary schools in two countries (Denmark and England) and in two US states (South Carolina and Maryland).
Here are those four big lessons (with more detail in the post):
- It’s easier to have something in place and then improve it, than to convince others that computing should be squeezed in.
- Industry voices matter.
- Public policy support goes a long way.
- Economics isn’t the only argument.
I’ll be traveling to Denmark with Barbara Ericson on May 10 to attend a conference at Aarhus University on their new computer science curriculum. Michael Caspersen invited us out. Simon Peyton-Jones of the Computing At Schools effort in the United Kingdom will be speaking as well. I’m copy-pasting the program (translated from Danish) to give you a sense of what it’s all about. It’s an exciting opportunity, and I’m looking forward to learning more about the efforts to move computing into primary and secondary education in Denmark and the UK.
The purpose of the conference is to establish support for our efforts by raising political awareness at all levels of decision making in our society related to teaching computing in school (parliament, regional and city councils, high school principals, high school teachers, deans, chairs and professors in computing departments, IT organizations, journalists, etc.).
09.30 Registration and coffee
- exhibition of student projects opens
- Peter Hesseldahl (moderator)
10.15 Digital literacy: creative and critical innovation — three perspectives
- Michael: Insight and vision through computing
- Jacob (high school teacher): Computing — a creative, critical and constructive subject
- Susanne: Why does society need digital literacy?
11.45 Digital literacy in an international perspective
- Mark: Why everyone will need digital literacy in their life
- Simon: Digital literady: Why every child should learn computing from primary school onwards
13.15 Panel: On the importance of digital literacy for high school students
- Christine Antorini, Minister of Children and Education
- Morten Østergaard, Minister of Science, Innovation and Higher Education
- Morten Bangsgaard, CEO, The Danish IT Industry Association (ITB)
- Anne Frausing, Principal and representative for the High School Principal’s Association
- Gitte Møldrup, Managing Director, IT-VEST — Networking Universities
15.00 Simon: Computing at School: How the UK is radically reshaping its curriculum for the 21st century
15.25 Mark: CS10K: Providing access to computing education across the US
16.00 End of plenary session
16.30 Exhibition of student projects ends
At first, Google contacted us to find existing CS teachers to be part of their new teaching fellows program, but they’ve just opened it up to new grads as well.
Google is searching for talented (STEM) Science, Technology, Engineering or Math teachers to join a 2-year post-graduate program designed to grow leaders in computer science education. The program targets new graduates passionate about the future of computer science education. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis for a two-year program that begins in June 2013. Applicants must be able to commit to the entire two years. As a part of the practicum, you will be working with thought leaders in education to learn the newest techniques and programs for computer science pedagogy, implementing programs with area schools and students, and creating your own innovative approaches to student learning. You can apply for the position and find more details about the program on this website. Please direct any questions you might have to TeachCS@google.com.
The role: Computer Science Teaching Fellows, New Grad 2013
• Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field
• Some form of teaching or instruction experience (e.g., teaching assistant, tutor)
• Able to commit to a 2-year program and start June 2013
• Willing to relocate to/within South Carolina
The ACM journal Transactions on Computing Education is going to have a special issue devoted to Computer Science Education in K-12 Schools. Well worth exploring.
Recent activities in several countries, for example in the USA, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and South Korea, show a growing awareness of the importance of rigorous computer science education (CSE) for a successful, self-responsive and self-deciding life in the modern world. Consequently, serious efforts are made to introduce or to improve CSE in schools that will be followed by other countries, as we hope. Yet, for any country that wants to improve CSE in schools, it would be advisable to learn from the experiences that were made somewhere else. Nevertheless, those experiences were gathered under preconditions and circumstances that usually differ strongly from country to country. Unfortunately, the short format of conventional scientific papers prevents most reports about such experiences from covering all relevant aspects of the respective context. To produce relief, this Special Issue of TOCE aims to collect extensive, detailed case studies that discuss as many relevant aspects as possible, for example regarding the category system that was proposed in 2011 by the ITiCSE Working Group about Informatics in Secondary Education .
New Zealand, Denmark, Israel, Computing at Schools England, and CS10K here in the US — there is a growing movement to improve computing education at the national level. Wales just announced a large investment to improve computing education there, too.
Computer science touches upon all three of my education priorities: literacy, numeracy and bridging the gap. It equips learners with the problem-solving skills so important in life and work.
The value of computational thinking, problem-solving skills and information literacy is huge, across all subjects in the curriculum. I therefore believe that every child should have the opportunity to learn concepts and principles from computer science.
Indeed, computing is a high priority area for growth in Wales. The future supply and demand for science, technology and mathematics graduates is essential if Wales is to compete in the global economy.
It is therefore vitally important that every child in Wales has the opportunity to study computer science between the ages of 11-16.
“Florida is killing Computer Science,” was the first thing that Joanne Barrett told us when we asked her how things were going in Florida. Barbara and I went to Orlando to give the Technology track keynote (joint! It was fun!) and two breakouts at the FCIS Conference on Thursday. Joanne ran the Technology track at FCIS. (Our travel was sponsored by CSTA and Google – thanks!) The mood of the CS teachers we met was dismal.
Currently, computer science is part of the academic high school degree in Florida — the classes that one would take as College preparation. It’s mostly taught by mathematics teachers. This year is the end of that. This is the last year that the current CS classes will be offered.
As of next year, all the computer science classes in Florida will be moved into business, as part of career preparation. As we understand it from Joanne, they literally won’t count for credit towards an academic high school degree. The AP CS will stay in the academic track, but all the other computer science courses will move to business.
Why? Exactly the same issue as in Georgia: Perkins funding will pay for hardware, so career prep has the computers, and it gets computer science. We spoke to one business teacher who is desperately seeking professional development to prepare herself for teaching all these new computing courses. We met one of the teachers at the Florida Virtual High School (which has a really cool CS sequence, and an astounding success rate for their students on AP CS), and she said that they may not even be able to offer any CS next year. FVHS is about academic subjects, and CS is being re-classified. Florida is also looking for industry certification for the end of the Perkins-funded pathway, and the teachers we talked to said that they’re currently considering an IEEE Certification — which is explicitly for graduates of four year degree programs, not high school students.
What will this do to CS education in Florida? it won’t be “killed,” but it will be changed. I worry about the quality, when swapping out all the experienced math teachers for inexperienced business teachers. I can’t the impact on CS10K goals.
Can AP CS succeed (in particular, the new CS:Principles effort) as a standalone AP, with all the other CS courses in another track? Maybe. I wonder how much effort school districts will put into AP CS, if they have a different, funded CS pathway. I also wonder if CS:Principles can meet its goal of helping to broaden participation in this context — the career prep programs that I’ve seen are far more heavily under-represented minority than the college prep programs. What if the minority students you want to draw into computing via AP CS are off taking the career prep classes?
Barbara has been facing a challenge in dealing with the State of Georgia lately that could impact other states. I offered my blog as a forum for raising the issues more broadly.
We have a real need in Georgia for a certification exam for high school students that is similar to the AP CS A exam in content and price, but is industry-based. Georgia is pushing career pathways and wants to have each student who completes a pathway take some type of exam where they can earn an industry certification. They claim this is due to the Perkins legislation that passed in 2006.
The purpose of the Perkins legislation is to develop students for “high skill, high wage, or high demand occupations in current or emerging professions” which certainly matches computing jobs. It is also intended to “integrate rigorous and challenging academic and career and technical instruction, and link secondary education and postsecondary education for participating career and technical education students”. It goes on to say that the goal is “designed to provide students with a non-duplicative sequence of progressive achievement leading to technical skill proficiency, a credential, a certificate, or a degree.” Since students can receive academic credit for the the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science (CS) A exam from postsecondary institutions, the AP CS A exam should count as leading to a degree.
In Georgia, we have created a computing pathway which has 3 courses: Computing in the Modern World, Beginning Programming, and Intermediate Programming. The committee that created the computing courses had recommended that that pathway end with AP CS A instead of Intermediate Programming, and that the students pass the AP CS A exam to prove that they have learned the material. But, Georgia won’t allow the AP exam to be used as an end of pathway exam. I recommended the Oracle Java associate exam, but it is $300 and that is just too expensive. The AP exam is $89. Georgia has picked a Skills USA computer programming exam (see description here) that covers Java, C++, and Visual Basic. That exam doesn’t match the standards in the pathway courses, and we don’t want the teachers to have to teach 3 different languages. We are having a hard enough time getting them up to speed on Java, since most have no computer science background. The Career and Technical Education Department in Georgia thinks it is preparing kids for programming jobs right out of high school, which is not realistic. Students will need to at least an associates degree if they want a career in computing.
Georgia is poised to force every rising 9th grader to pick a career pathway. They are currently thinking about changing our computing courses to match the Skills USA test, since they can’t find a cheaper test that gives industry certification in Java. This is a huge problem. We have been working for years to improve computing in Georgia, and this would reverse many of our gains. We have introduced interesting and engaging courses using Scratch, Alice, Media Computation in Java, CS Unplugged, Greenfoot and App Inventor. Teachers would have to go back to boring, cookbook programming to get through 3 languages in 3 courses.
The Georgia DOE says is not going to change to allow an AP exam as an end of pathway exam. They claim they can’t since their efforts are part of the Race to the Top grant that Georgia won. They interpreted the Perkins legislation to mean that students must earn an industry certification. Other states may also use this same narrow interpretation and could end up in the same situation. This could be a major road block to the National Science Foundation’s plan to prepare 10,000 teachers (CS10K) to teach the new AP CS Principles course by 2016.
I recommend that Oracle create a new certificate only for high school students that is based on the AP CS A exam material and costs about $89. It could be a subset of the Java Associate material that matches the AP CS A material (extra topics to remove are: Java Development Fundamentals, Java Platforms and Integration Technologies, Client Technologies, Server Technologies).