NYC to teach computer science and software engineering in 20 schools

February 26, 2013 at 1:38 am 8 comments

This is stunning: New York City Schools are going to teach computer science and software engineering in grades 6-12 in 20 schools starting this Fall.  By 2016, they plan to more than triple the number of children enrolled in the “Software Engineering Pilot program.”  I’m really curious about how they’re going to ramp up professional development to this scale.  It’s a great test for the future CS10K plans by NSF.  It’s not clear to me the goal — that these children will be ready to enter the IT workforce with their high school diplomas, or that these children will have the skills to succeed in later certificate and degree programs?

“We know it’s vital to prepare our children to succeed in an increasingly technology-centered economy and the Software Engineering Pilot will help us do just that,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This groundbreaking program will ensure that more students receive computer science and software engineering instruction so that they can compete for the tech jobs that are increasingly becoming a part of our city’s economy. We’re creating the home-grown workforce our city needs and teaching our students skills that will open up new doors for them and their future.”


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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Valerie Barr  |  February 26, 2013 at 7:13 am

    I was at the announcement, representing ACM-W (and Cameron Wilson was there as ACM Director of Policy). It’s a fabulous idea, but I have much of the same concerns based on the lack of understanding presented about the current K-12 CS landscape. At least, the mayor and the schools chancellor were not particularly well prepared to answer basic questions. For example, “is there currently 6th grade curriculum available or does it all have to be invented from scratch” (Answer: yes, look at the CSTA materials). And Bloomberg talked about the value of liberal arts education and importance of exposure to computing for all students. But he slipped in a comment about certification that took me by surprise. I think there are several issues they have not really addressed: 1. is this initiative taking part in the academic track or in the vocational track? 2. how will the CS courses “count” (or will the CS courses “count”) toward graduation requires. On the other hand, someone from the NYC Dept. of Ed. told me after the announcement that they are talking with the State about certification for CS.

  • 2. Aaron  |  February 26, 2013 at 9:19 am

    This is consistent with Bloomberg’s overall push to make NYC attractive to high(er) tech industries. The proposal that lead to CornelNYCTech – where Deborah Estrin recently relocated – is also part of that plan. While there may be some sustainability questions – where do we get these teachers? – and some certification details to be worked out, the Mayor is creating an environment that encourages industry leaders to think of NYC as more than just the financial capital of the US. We could use more such leadership across the country.

    • 3. Mark Guzdial  |  February 26, 2013 at 9:30 am

      Completely agreed about the leadership issue, Aaron. The “where do we get the teachers?” question is more than a detail — it’s a worldwide issue. Computing at Schools in the UK is struggling with this problem as they roll out their new national curriculum. I’m traveling to Denmark in May to speak at a conference where they are trying to figure out the professional development challenges, too.

      I’m preparing a blog post about the latest on the Georgia computer science high school curriculum. It’s being revised to reduce the amount of computer science and programming in it, explicitly because they have been unable to teach the teachers enough computer science to make it viable statewide. (Of course, professional development budgets have been cut since they started the new curriculum, which may have something to do with it.) I suspect that we’re going to see similar pressure worldwide. It’s one thing to set new high curricular standards. But if teachers can’t teach to those standards, the standards will slip.

  • 4. Rick Adrion  |  February 26, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    I looked over some of what I could find on the web. There is a new HS in NYC (the Academy for Software Engineering – that seems to be be model, but it looks like a CTE program and the curricula mentioned in the Mayor’s press release (computer programming, embedded electronics, web design and programming, e-textiles, robotics and mobile computing.) don’t align well with the CSTA standards (but there is scant detail to be found). Kudos to the Mayor for doing something, I just hope they can put together a strong and successful program. While there is a mention of connection to the Cornell/Technion and Columbia tech campuses in the press release, no principals from those campuses seem involved, Most of the people mentioned are out of the tech/VC community in NYC. AFSE has Evan Korth from NYU involved as an advisor

    • 5. Mike Zamansky  |  February 26, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      As far as I know AFSE isn’t the model — I don’t see how it can be – it’s only been open for one semester and they haven’t even worked out their full program yet.

      I don’t think there is an overall plan. To my knowledge the fledgling NY CSTA chapter hasn’t been consulted and no one that I know has also been consulted (for context, I created and run the computer science program at Stuyvesant High School, we have a highly regarded three year sequence and have trained over a dozen teachers over the years).

      • 6. Rick Adrion  |  February 26, 2013 at 6:15 pm

        I was only going by Mayor Bloomberg’s press release
        “The training we’re providing through this program, the Academy for Software Engineering in Manhattan and the Applied Sciences NYC initiative will prepare our students for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

        So as I read it again, it seems that AFSE is cited as another source, not the model.

  • 7. Coding | Startup Iceland  |  February 27, 2013 at 2:32 am

    […] NYC to teach computer science and software engineering in 20 schools ( […]

  • […] Why are they doing this?  We are not sure — Universities have not been involved in the revision, only high school teachers and industry folks.  One theory is that the Department of Education wants to better align high school courses with jobs, so that high school students can graduate and go into the IT industry (perhaps same goal in NYC?). […]


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