CSEdWeek progress in Georgia: Math and Science teachers in CS/IT and a Transfer Summit
I’m sure that there were a lot of outreach activities going on in Georgia, too. I wasn’t involved in those. I want to report on two points of progress in Georgia that was more at an infrastructural level.
Chris Klaus (as I mentioned in this blog previously) has gathered stakeholders in a “Georgia Coding” group to push on improving computing in Georgia. That effort bore fruit during CSedWeek. Georgia had its first “Day of Code,” but Barb and I were most excited to visit the Georgia Professional Standards Commission website on Monday to see this:
All the high school IT/CS classes in Georgia can now be taught by teachers with Mathematics or Science certifications. Previously, only Business Education and Mathematics teachers could teach AP CS, and only Business Education teachers could teach other IT/CS classes. (Even though AP CS counted as a science credit, science teachers couldn’t teach it.) Now, it’s all open. It’s much easier to teach Math and Science teachers about CS than Business Education teachers. Now, we have a much larger pool of possible teachers to recruit into CS classes. I’m grateful that Georgia House Representative Mike Dudgeon took this from the Georgia Coding group and made it happen.
On Thursday, I hosted a Transfer Summit at Georgia Tech. We had 15 attendees from 11 different institutions in the University System of Georgia, some two-year-mostly institutions and others four-year degree institutions.
The goal was to ease transfer between the schools. This was a strategy that CAITE used successfully to increase the diversity in computing programs in Massachusetts. Two year programs are much more diverse than universities (see some data here), but only about 25% of the students who want to transfer do so. Part of our strategy with ECEP is to set up these meetings where we get schools to smooth out the bumps to ease the transition.
I learned a lot about transfer at this meeting. For example, I learned that it’s often unsuccessful to have students take all their General Education requirements at the two-year institution and then transfer to the four-year institution, because that leaves just intense CS classes for the last two years — no easier classes. At some schools, the pre-requisite chains prevent students from even getting a full load of just-CS classes, since students have to pass the pre-req before they can take the follow-on class.
At the end of the meeting, we had 9 new transfer agreements in-progress. Some of the participants had come to a similar meeting last year, and they said that they were able to make more progress this year because they knew what to have ready. Wayne Summers from Columbus State actually came with a whole new agreement with Georgia Perimeter College (a two-year institution) already worked out and ready to discuss with GPC representatives. I was grateful that GPC brought three faculty to the meeting, so that they could have multiple agreements worked out in parallel.
Getting math and science teachers into high school CS classes and helping students in two-year institutions move on to bachelors degrees isn’t as flashy as the Hour of Code and programming at White House. Teacher certifications and transfer agreements are important when we move beyond the first hour and want to create pathways for students to pursue computing through graduation.