Posts tagged ‘K12’
If states offer career and technical education in pathways (typically 3-4 courses) with a pathway completion exam, they are eligible for Perkins legislation funding to pay for staff and equipment. If AP CS is one of those courses, it’s easier to build the pathway (2-3 courses to define, rather than 3-4) and the pathway is more likely to lead to college-level CS, if a student so chooses. But as the below report mentions, many states believe that Perkins legislation disallows the AP to count. It can, and here’s the report describing how.
If you’re hearing this story in your state, be sure to send your department of education this report!
Career and Technical Education and Advanced Placement (July 2013, PDF)
Traditionally Advanced Placement® (AP) courses and exams have not been recommended for students in Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. This paper, jointly developed and released by NASDCTEc and the College Board aims to bust this myth by showing how AP courses and exams can be relevant to a student’s program of study across the 16 Career Clusters®.
It’s almost a race to the bottom — which do people care less about, learning programming or learning a modern language?
The teaching of computer coding should be prioritised over modern languages, according to a survey of British adults.
Twice as many thought teaching computer coding in school should be a priority than the number who saw Mandarin Chinese as more important. Coding was the top choice for 52%, against 38% who favoured French lessons, 32% Spanish, 25% German and 24% Mandarin.
The poll was published by code.org, a campaign to introduce children and parents to coding. It has created Hour of Code, a series of free tutorials designed to show students the basics of programming in an hour.
I got to see a build of ScratchJr at the NSF CE21 PI’s meeting in January — it’s really fun. Attractive, responsive, and well thought through, as one would expect with this team.
Coding (or computer programming) is a new type of literacy. Just as writing helps you organize your thinking and express your ideas, the same is true for coding. In the past, coding was seen as too difficult for most people. But we think coding should be for everyone, just like writing.
As young children code with ScratchJr, they learn how to create and express themselves with the computer, not just interact with it. In the process, children develop design and problem-solving skills that are foundational for later academic success, and they use math and language in a meaningful and motivating context, supporting the development of early-childhood numeracy and literacy.
With ScratchJr, children aren’t just learning to code, they are coding to learn.
Wall Street Journal just ran an article (linked below) about people “flocking to coding classes.” The lead for the story (quoted below) is a common story, but concerning. If coding is all extra-curricular, with the (presumably expensive) once-a-week tutor, then how do the average kids get access? How do the middle and lower kids get access? Hadi Partovi and Jane Margolis talked about this on PRI’s Science Friday – CS education can’t be an afterschool activity, or we’ll keep making CS a privileged activity for white boys.
Like many 10-year-olds, Nick Wald takes private lessons. His once-a-week tutor isn’t helping him with piano scales or Spanish conjugations, but teaching him how to code.
“I always liked to get apps from the app store, and I always wanted to figure out how they worked and how I could develop it like that,” Nick says.
As the ability to code, or use programming languages to build sites and apps, becomes more in demand, technical skills are no longer just for IT professionals. Children as young as 7 can take online classes in Scratch programming, while 20-somethings are filling up coding boot camps that promise to make them marketable in the tech sector. Businesses such as American Express Co. AXP -0.57% send senior executives to programs about data and computational design not so they can build websites, but so they can better manage the employees who do.
Interesting and detailed response to the decision in Texas (and proposed in New Mexico and Kentucky) to count programming as a foreign language.
When these policy makers look at schools, they see that computer science is not part of the “common core” of prescribed learning for students. And then they hear that Texas has just passed legislation to enable students to count a computer science course as a foreign language credit and it seems like a great idea.
But all we have to do is to look at Texas to see how this idea could, at the implementation level, turn out to be an unfortunate choice for computer science education. Here are the unintended consequences
1. If a course counts as a foreign language course, it will be suggested that a new course must be created.
2. If a new course is created, chances are that it won’t fit well into any of the already existing course pathways for college-prep or CTE.
3. This new course will be added to the current confusing array of “computing” courses which students and their parents already find difficult to navigate.
4. There will be pressure brought to ensure that that course focuses somehow on a “language”. For the last ten years we have been trying to help people understand that computer science is more than programming. Programming/coding is to computer science as the multiplication table is to mathematics, a critical tool but certainly not the entire discipline.
5. If this new course is going to be a “language” course, we have to pick a language (just one). And so the programming language wars begin.
ACM has just released a report arguing for the need for computer science in K-12 schools. They are very strongly making the jobs argument. The appendix to the report details state-by-state what jobs are available in computing, the salaries being paid for those jobs, and how many computing graduates (including how many AP CS exams vs other AP exams were taken in 2013) in that state.
The report Rebooting the Pathway to Success: Preparing Students for Computing Workforce Needs in the United States calls on education and business leaders and public policy officials in every state to take immediate action aimed at filling the pipeline of qualified students pursuing computing and related degrees, and to prepare them for the 21st century workforce. The report provides recommendations to help these leaders join together to create a comprehensive plan that addresses K-12 computer science education and that aligns state policy, programs, and resources to implement these efforts.
Check out the headline “Can early computer science education boost number of women in tech?” Then read the part (quoted below) where they show what works at Harvey Mudd. I don’t read anything there about early CS education. I do believe that we need CS in high schools to improve diversity in computing, but I’m not sure that much earlier than high school helps much. I worry about higher education giving up on issues of diversity, by changing the discussion to K12.
I wish that Mercury News would have really said what they found: University Computing Programs, you have the power to improve your diversity! You can change your classes and your culture! Don’t just pass the buck to K12 schools!
“The difference is, females in general are much more interested in what you can do with the technology, than with just the technology itself,” says Harvey Mudd President Maria Klawe, a computer scientist herself.
So administrators created an introductory course specifically for students without programming experience. They emphasized coding’s connection to other disciplines. They paid for freshman women to attend the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, a chance to meet programming role models in diverse fields. And they provided early research opportunities for women students to inspire them to stick with the field.
The result? The percentage of female computer science majors at Harvey Mudd increased from about 10 percent before the initiatives to 43 percent today.
Nice coverage in NPR, including Barb’s AP CS data, with interviews with Hadi Partovi and Chris Stephenson.
What’s most striking about this piece are the comments. These are NPR listeners, and by and large, they are a reasonable group. But by and large, they are against teaching computer science in elementary school. Their arguments are interesting. Many are of the form “In my day…” Others are pushing back against the idea of teaching kids in elementary school something that is supposed to be a job skill. Still others are making an argument that I made this month in CACM: If the goal is more CS graduates, and there’s nothing in high school or middle school, what’s the point of making a significant effort to get computer science into elementary school?
Part of the problem here is the kind of argument that we’re making for CS in schools, including this NPR piece. I believe that the strongest argument is that most professions need computing, so it makes sense to build up that literacy. But it’s a hard argument to sell, and we keep falling back on the “CS jobs are going unfilled” argument.
A handful of nonprofit and for-profit groups are working to address what they see as a national education crisis: Too few of America’s K-12 public schools actually teach computer science basics and fewer still offer it for credit.
It’s projected that in the next decade there will be about 1 million more U.S. jobs in the tech sector than computer science graduates to fill them. And it’s estimated that only about 10 percent of K-12 schools teach computer science.
So some in the education technology sector, an industry worth some $8 billion a year and growing, are stepping in.
At a Silicon Valley hotel recently, venture capitalists and interested parties heard funding pitches and watched demonstrations from 13 ed-tech start-ups backed by an incubator called Imagine K-12. One of them is Kodable, which aims to teach kids five years and younger the fundamentals of programming through a game where you guide a Pac-Man-esque fuzz ball.
Interesting Kickstarter campaign to fund a storybook to introduce young children to programming. (Thanks to Monica McGill for the pointer!)
Ruby is a small girl with a huge imagination. She stomps and stumbles around her own little world while her dad is traveling. On her adventures, Ruby makes friends with the lonely Snow Leopard, visits castles made of windows, and solves problems with the wise penguins. She bakes gingerbreads with the green robots and throws a garden party with… well, if you like to hear the rest of the story, I need your help.
Ruby’s world is an extension of the way I’ve learned to see technology. It goes far beyond the bits and bytes inside the computer. This is the story of what happens between the ones and zeros, before the arrays and the if/else statements. The book and workbook are aimed for four to seven year olds.
I believe stories are the most formative force of our childhood. Everyone has a book that made the world seem beautiful and full of possibility. My book is about little Ruby.
There’s a new computer science curriculum rolling out in the UK for elementary school students (thanks to the Computing at Schools effort), and Microsoft is making a big push to help the adoption.
Steve Beswick, senior director of Education at Microsoft UK, said: “We welcomed the news of the new computing curriculum alongside others in the industry because it is absolutely critical for the future success of our young people. The challenge now is to ensure that primary teachers are equipped to deliver it by September.”
“That’s why we are launching our First Class Computing programme now, which, through new materials, teacher training, and our ongoing work with the education community, can help a new generation of teachers inspire young people.”
The Atlanta Public Schools has a short article about their involvement in the Hour of Code — and it was all elementary school children. As far as I know, there is no more AP CS in any Atlanta Public high school. I’m wondering if the emphasis on “starting early” is having an unexpected effect. Are schools seeing activities like Blockly and Scratch as elementary school activities, and computer science belongs there, not in high schools?
As members of the APS IT department went out to observe students throughout the district participating in the Hour of Code they observed computer science education at its finest. Students were actively engaged in challenges that required them to utilize high level problem solving and critical thinking skills. Students identified and found ways to correct their mistakes until they were successful in completing the activity.
Lavant Burgess, a fifth grader at E.L. Connally Elementary, stated, “I like how it made me think. I had to keep using different strategies to figure out how to get the robot to the right squares.”
Google is making some serious investments into South Carolina CS education, with their CS Fellows program and with this CS First after-school program. I’m curious as to why South Carolina first, but with my ECEP hat on, I’m glad!
Through a pilot program launched in July 2013 at Google’s South Carolina data center, Google has been working with students to encourage their interest and show them some of the cool things they can do in the field of computer science, according to a Jan. 15 post by JamieSue Goodman, the program lead of the nascent CS First program. The computer science pilot program is especially aimed at gaining the interest of minorities and girls, who are typically underrepresented in the field of computer science.
The program has been under way as a partnership of Google and the South Carolina Lowcountry school systems and teachers, according to Goodman’s post. The goals of the program include helping students develop a positive attitude toward CS and computers, as well as develop the confidence and curiosity to jump into a new computing experience, she wrote. Also integral in the program is showing the students that coding is used in a diverse set of jobs and hobbies and that to do the work, they have to have a “debugging mindset.”
It’s kind of a strange program. The interviewer didn’t seem to know who his guests (Hadi Partovi and Jane Margolis) were. If you have Jane Margolis on your program, you ask her about why it’s important for everyone to have access to computing, not whether programming is more fun today than it was in the 1960′s. Hadi and Jane did a good job of conveying their messages and responding reasonably, but you can almost hear them thinking, “What was that question?!?” I particularly liked the end part where Hadi and Jane together point out that after-school clubs are not a replacement for computer science in the curriculum.
With smartphones, tablets, and apps, coding is becoming the language of the digital age, but is the U.S. lagging behind? A panel of experts discusses how we can improve our coding literacy and close the programming gap among women and minorities.
The scope of the Chicago plan is impressive. In case you thought that the idea of offering foreign language credit for CS was a joke, it’s being considered as part of the Chicago plan. The rationale for the plan is interesting: Arguing that it’s about national competitiveness, and about democratization.
On the first day of Computer Science Education Week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett announced the most comprehensive K-12 computer science education plan in a major school district. This plan includes creating a pipeline for foundational computer science skills in elementary schools, offering at least one computer science class at every high school, and elevating computer science to a core subject.
“This plan will help us compete with countries like China and the UK, where children take coding classes in elementary school, and create an environment where we can help support the next Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Marissa Mayer,” said Mayor Emanuel. “By democratizing computer science, we are leveling the playing field for all children to have the same skills, appetite to learn, and access to technology to excel in this growing field.”
The K-12 program will expand student access to computer science literacy over the next five years. The program will include:
- In the next three years, every high school will offer a foundational “Exploring Computer Science” course.
- In the next five years, at least half of all high schools will also offer an AP Computer Science course.
- Chicago will also be the first US urban district to offer a K-8 computer science pathway, reaching one in four elementary schools in the next five years.
- Within five years, CPS will allow computer science to count as a graduation requirement (e.g. possibly as a math, science, or foreign language credit). Only thirteen other states have elevated computer science to a core subject instead of an elective.
Chris Stephenson’s blog from last month’s Blog@CACM highlights a significant impediment to progress in computing education. CS Faculty in universities don’t understand K-12 education (and may not respect formal education at all, as discussed previously). Education Faculty probably understand K-12 education better, but few of them are involved in computing education. We in higher-education who want to help with the development of K-12 computing education need to understand the contexts and challenges of teachers — “know thy user.”
CSTA has served as a bridge between these two worlds, explaining each to the other and helping to facilitate greater understanding and better communication. For some post-secondary faculty, however, K–12 remains a foreign territory—little understood and not easily traveled.
When you talk to college faculty, they will tell you that working with K–12 educators can be exceedingly frustrating. Administrators and teachers do not return phone calls or respond to emails, schedules change with little or no notice, and teachers are resistant to spending out-of-school time on professional development opportunities and are averse to incorporating new technologies or teaching methods.
When you talk to K–12 teachers, they will tell you the post-secondary faculty are woefully ignorant of the realities of teaching in their environment. In K–12, most teachers teach six classes per day and an increasing number have no time in which to prepare lessons. Teachers don’t have phones. Some don’t even have desks. And very few have access to a networked computer on which they can answer correspondence during their teaching day. In many U.S. states, teachers do not make a living wage and so need to take second jobs and summer jobs to support their families.