grows CS Ed partnership to reduce the Babble in CS Ed

June 17, 2015 at 7:15 am 10 comments

I wrote my May Blog@CACM post on the “Babble of Computing Education,” about the wide variety of perspectives, definitions, and cross-purposes going on in the US in computing education.  At the end, I talk about the new partnership with the College Board and how this may reduce the Babble — the definition of CS Principles will become  Owen Astrachan, co-PI of the NSF CS Principles grant, and I have a bet for dinner and beer that we made on Facebook.  I predict that in the first offering of the AP CS Principles exam, more than 50% of the schools that teach CSP and send students to the exam will be using curricula.  He thinks that there will be greater diversity.

I don’t know how the new partnerships announced below fit into our bet.  BJC, PLTW, and other curricula are now going to be promoted by as their partners.  Will a school adopt BJC because recommends it?  I think that’s likely.  Will the school believe that they are adopting a curriculum out of Berkeley or a curriculum?  I expect the latter.  From schools’ perspective, all the eleven new partners will be curricula. The definition of CS Principles will become  That’s not necessarily a bad thing — that may provide a corporate face that will assure administrators in schools who don’t know CS.

“’s courses already reach millions of students globally in grades K-8,” Partovi said. “But as we expand in high school, we work region by region, and we can’t do it all. We’re leading a movement and we need partners to help.”

When meets with school districts, it will now also highlight the new partnerships as alternative ways to teach computer science versus utilizing’s own programs.

via inks 11 new partnerships to help expand computer science education – GeekWire.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

International Conference on Live Coding (ICLC), 13-15 July, Leeds, Registration open People (scientsts and faculty, too) don’t generally make evidence-based, rational decisions

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. alfredtwo  |  June 17, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    I hope there is diversity. I think that initially people will be looking for curriculum that is already in place except for the few contrary people who always “roll their own.” It is possible that diversity will grow as those independent people have some success and share their ideas with others. I would love to see a whole strand on different APCSP curriculums at a future CSTA Conference for example. Or perhaps the prepackaged stuff will be so good that we wind up with fewer options. It’s really hard to say. HS CS doesn’t seem to be driven as much by not invented here syndrome as a lot of universities appear (from here in the sticks) to be.

  • 2. Mike Zamansky (@zamansky)  |  June 17, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Hey Alfred – I’m one of those contrary people (grumble grumble).

    The reason we don’t have the not invented here syndrome is that for the most part CS is coming down from above not growing organically.

    Do we need the babble? Certainly. Will it fade? Most likely. I’ve been saying for a while that seems to be as concerned about winning as about doing it right.

    Look at other disciplines – over my career I’ve seen various from above standardization of math ed with the whole CC thing being the latest and biggest incarnation. It’s what’s being pushed down onto, what we call “other people’s kids.”

    Where’s the babble? At the elite private schools that maintain the freedom to explore real education. Of course, they have the benefit of resources, small classes, students from well to do backgrounds etc.

    • 3. alfredtwo  |  June 17, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      I would argue that some public schools, especially magnet/entrance exam schools, have a lot of the same resources etc that private schools do. The key is not as much resources as a supportive administration. I have visited some very innovative public schools whose administrators leave the CS people alone.

      • 4. Mike Zamansky (@zamansky)  |  June 17, 2015 at 3:10 pm

        It depends on the municipality and the school’s administration – in our case, we don’t get any special resources and our administration is so by the book that when the DOE says AP classes, common core etc all creativity dies.

    • 5. Mark Guzdial  |  June 17, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      The reason we don’t have the not invented here syndrome is that for the most part CS is coming down from above not growing organically.

      I see why you see it that way, but I see the same thing very differently. What you see as CS “coming down from above,” I see as providing a scaffolding for schools that can’t grow CS organically. Most CS teachers I’ve met through “Georgia Computes!” would not grow their own CSP curriculum organically. They lack enough background, confidence, and self-efficacy. Certainly, also a lack of administrative support, as Alfred describes, but that’s a minority of teachers (literally, < 10% in Lijun Ni's dissertation study).

      You have a lot of background, experience, and confidence. Most CS teachers don't. What's more, if we get anywhere near CS10K, the vast number of new CS teachers will have even less background, experience, and confidence. The CSP curricula that are being provided (from, BJC, PLTW, Mobile CSP, etc.) make the difference between being able to offer CSP, or not.

      I run into this tension with the resources that I provide for my Python MediaComp book. I’m a CS teacher at a top research university. I expect to provide the book and perhaps an exemplar set of Powerpoint slides, and the teacher should be able to tailor the materials from there. But I increasingly get asked for a solutions manual (we did one for the 4th edition), all the book code typed in (ditto), a test bank (there’s one for earlier editions, but I didn’t update for 4th ed), and a set of labs. I totally get it — many CS teachers have a far heavier teaching load than me, and don’t have time and TA support to build or tailor everything for their course. Not everybody can build everything organically.

      • 6. zamanskym  |  June 17, 2015 at 8:43 pm

        Mark – I agree with what you’re saying here 100% – most places need the top down – just noting why we don’t see as much not invented here.

        My fear for the top down is two fold –

        One – where is it coming from – for instance, I’m not at all comfortable with the recently announced partnership between and the college board – particularly as it relates to the PSAT 8/9 – I’d much rather see real local partnerships between colleges and high schools (which I understand is something you do) where it’s local and there’s some commonality even though the jobs and teaching of a k12 teacher and a college professor are different in certain respects.

        Two – I’m also concerned with what I call the “good enough” where teachers will be run through minimal training and set loose to basically teach from a script. This is a fear beyond CS — its’ part of the TFA model and I’ve seen it in many charter school models. We’ll have CS but it won’t be particularly good. This fear can be largely mitigated with direct local support.

        Maybe I’m just getting to be too much of a curmudgeon.

      • 7. alfredtwo  |  June 17, 2015 at 11:33 pm

        For the textbooks I have written I have also been asked for answer sheets, test banks and coded solutions. I’ve done a series of project books as well and while I think the projects are all easily done by high school students (most of them have been done by my students) I still get regular requests for coded solutions. That scares me a bit.

        When I was hired for my first HS CS job I was told there wasn’t a teacher’s edition of the book handy so no answer sheet. I naively replied that if I needed an answer sheet they’d hired the wrong person. I’ve since learned that a lot of teachers need those answer sheets.

        When teachers are a chapter ahead of the students and need the answers handed them to do that what are students missing? Yes I understand that it’s hard to find and hire more experienced teachers. There are not that many out there. Most of them have either been around a long time or industry retreads who could make more money in industry. I don’t have an answer.

  • 8. Elaine  |  November 3, 2017 at 11:12 am

    I am a “new ” Computer Science teacher. While I have over 20 years teaching every level of mathematics from 7th grade to college, I am currently teaching AP CS prin in its first year at my high school.

    No computer science was being taught, a fellow coworker and I recruited students for the class and was able to have enough students to run two AP CS classes and one support by TEALS.
    However the task now fell to us to teach them.

    We are new to CS and spent our Spring trying to teach ourselves what ever we could from online resources. We were fortunate enough to stumble upon URI’s program as well as’s and attended both. I loved the’s curriculum and supports materials. It made the course accessible and enjoyable.

    I currently teach 5 classes, all of them different. APCS, AP stats, Geom, Alg2 and Alg1. The curriculum offered by URI and is a life saver. I also like what it is updated to reflect changes in almost real time. My district is in the process of laying off teachers as our enrollment shrinks and there is no certification for CS in Rhode Island at the moment. If my coworker and I didn’t step in our students would be losing out. One day I hope I can fly without the answer keys…like I do in a math class but for the time being these pre packaged courses offer a life line to a fish out of water.

    • 9. shriramkrishnamurthi  |  February 2, 2018 at 7:22 am

      Hi Elaine. I’m curious why your school, with no CS teachers, chose not to introduce computing through your Algebra 1 course using Bootstrap, which is already a part of the matrix of offerings in Rhode Island. It would have been just as supported, and would enable you to move from your current strengths to new ones gracefully rather than being tossed in off the deep end and having to feel a deep reliance on others’ materials.

      Feel free to contact me by email if you don’t want to discuss on the blog. I’m Thanks!

  • […] going on.  I’m particularly sorry because I owe Owen Astrachan a beer and dinner.  I lost our bet about and CSP Curricula.  I have to find another time to pay […]


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