Announcing the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance

November 15, 2012 at 9:20 am 16 comments

Through a five-year, $6.24 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Massachusetts Amherst will form a partnership to further grow the pipeline of students in U.S. computer science programs and broaden participation in this fast-growing field. The new Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance will extend best practices and seek to duplicate state-level successes in developing K-12 and post-secondary curriculum, enhancing teacher training, and conducting hands-on student workshops and other programs.

Computer science remains one of the fastest growing fields, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasting almost 20 percent increases in computing-related jobs by 2020. While myriad efforts at the national, state and local levels have contributed to four years of sustained growth in undergraduate computer science programs, accelerated growth and diversification remains critical to cultivating the next generation of technology industry leaders.

“Computing is the world’s newest great science. Yet, even though enrollments in U.S. computer science programs are on a four-year rise, it’s still not enough to satisfy the workforce demands of a technology-driven global economy,” said Mark Guzdial, professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing and ECEP co-lead. “This new collaboration will drive the discipline forward, enabling states to replicate recent successes in Georgia and Massachusetts that enhanced computing education, grew the pipeline of interested students, and facilitated systemic change to the educational system.”

ECEP builds on five years of work by Georgia Tech’s Georgia Computes! program and UMass Amherst’s Commonwealth Alliance for Information Technology Education (CAITE). In Georgia, Georgia Computes! introduced thousands of middle and high school students to computing through workshops, summer camps and partnerships with the Girl Scouts and other organizations. As a result, the number of students taking the AP Computer Science exam doubled from 2007 to 2011, with even higher growth rates among women and underrepresented minority groups. In addition, more than 500 teachers from 312 schools in 20 states have taken one or more training workshops as part of the Georgia Computes! program.

“Georgia Tech has a legacy of creating, implementing and disseminating computing educational approaches that introduce computing in ways that are creative, social and interesting, such as creating stories, art, music and games by writing computer programs,” said Barbara Ericson, director of Computing Outreach in the Georgia Tech College of Computing, and co-PI for ECEP. “Through this new partnership with CAITE, we can further expand our efforts and have a tremendous impact on computing pipelines across the nation.”

In Massachusetts, CAITE helped bolster enrollments in community-college computer science programs by 64 percent over five years, and facilitated 78 percent growth in programs that facilitated CS student transfers from two to four-year universities. CAITE also reached more than 21,000 students and 2,100 educators through more than 350 computing events, including robot-building activity days for middle school girls and professional development workshops for computer science teachers and faculty.

The first state partners for ECEP will be California and South Carolina, chosen because they have the population, institutions, workforce demands and individuals or organizations ready to work on computer science education reform.

Working in conjunction with industry and government associations, ECEP will assist and advise these and future partner states in running 4th-12th grade student summer camps, improving transfer from two- to four-year institutions, enhancing computing curricula, conducting effective student outreach, and more.

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16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jana Markowitz  |  November 15, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Mark, you need to help me figure out how to get Tennessee involved in this program.

    • 2. Mark Guzdial  |  November 15, 2012 at 10:48 am

      Sure, let’s talk via email, Jana. When identifying partner states, we’re looking for where there’s already work going on, as opposed to where there’s the greatest need. $6M sounds like a lot of money, but when you start thinking about multiple states and the scope of change, it’s not enough. We can’t meet all the need. All we can do is to serve as a catalyst to help organize and/or energize existing activity. California and South Carolina are both good examples, but for different reasons. California has so much going on already, so ECEP can help to organize and channel efforts. South Carolina has activity in both the University and private sectors, because of IT-ology, an industry sponsored effort to improve computing education.

  • […] Announcing the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance « Computing Education Blog […]

  • 4. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  November 15, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    California has a lot going on in K-12 computer science? News to me. I think that the only high school CS course at a public school in our entire county is at a charter school. (I know of one other at a private high school.)

    I suspect that there are a few hot spots of CS activity in California (probably in Silicon Valley), but that the average number of high school CS courses per capita is still quite low. In May 2012, there were only 3920 AP CS exams taken in California (592457 total AP exams in CA, so CS is 0.662% of total). There were 26103 total AP CS exams, and 3,698,407 total exams (0.706% of total), so California seems to be doing less AP CS than average (when normalized for amount of overall AP activity).
    Statistics from

    Sorry, I don’t have handy statistics on how big the high school population is by state, so I can’t say whether the number of AP exams per student for California is high or low.

    • 5. Mark Guzdial  |  November 15, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      There’s actually quite a bit, but California is so big that it doesn’t distribute well. The “Exploring Computer Science” effort in LAUSD has several large grants supporting it, including a five year one that started in 2010. Dan Garcia at Berkeley and Beth Simon at UCSD each have professional development programs that aim to produce dozens of new CS teachers. The California education policy group CCEAN produced a nice report last year on the successes and challenges of CS education in California. That’s several large federally-funded efforts, and a large internal education policy effort — that’s more than most states.

      • 6. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  November 16, 2012 at 1:06 am

        I’m not surprised I’ve not heard of the Los Angeles and San Diego efforts (over 350 miles away), but I thought I might have heard of the Berkeley ones (only 80 miles away). Given how few California students are taking the AP CS exam, dozens of teachers should be enough to make noticeable jump in the number. When can we expect to see this jump?

        • 7. Mark Guzdial  |  November 16, 2012 at 8:28 am

          Their target is brand-new-to-CS teachers who are aiming to teach the new AP CS:Principles which will be out around 2016. These teachers won’t be going into AP CS Level A soon, though they might before AP CS:Principles becomes available.

  • 8. Suoma Utrio  |  November 19, 2012 at 6:56 am

    I am not wondering about computer science if it is one of the top choice of most of the student,well in Finland country it is also one of the fast growing course this year,however there are also many training courses which is really a great opportunity for some student and it is also one of the main choice of most of the student in part of Helsinki which is good to see.

  • […] maybe for kirk […]

  • […] an AP exam). Barbara broke it down by state (for states we’re particularly focusing on in ECEP), and by population of each state. Maryland does the best, in terms of test-takers per million […]

  • […] of all the awardees from the NSF programs in Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC-A, like ECEP), Computing Education in the 21st Century (CE21, like our CSLearning4U project), and all the funded […]

  • […] assumption here that School Boards make the decision on what gets taught and what doesn’t.  I keep learning how different each and every state is.  Decisions about what gets taught (and what doesn’t get made) at the State level, the […]

  • […] ECEP is going to have a presence at this year’s CSTA Conference.  Hope you can join us! […]

  • 14. ebujak  |  April 22, 2013 at 8:28 am

    ECEP sound great. Please keep us posted at and here.

  • […]  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 […]

  • […] Richardson, our ECEP Partner in California, sent this to me yesterday.  Please do support this […]


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