Posts tagged ‘ECEP’
Insightful new report from ACCESS-CA on who is taking AP CS in California and on the challenges (quoted below):
Despite the strong outlook for the technology economy in California, there are major challenges in meeting the growing demand for skilled technology workers and preparing Californians to participate in the workforce of the future:
The lack of computer science standards, courses, and teachers and the lack of alignment between computing pathways and workforce needs. Roughly 65% of high schools in California offer no computing classes and the state has yet to develop a statewide plan for computing education.
The lack of diversity in the computing education pipeline and within the technology sector, particularly given the rapidly-increasing diversity of California’s population. 60% of California’s student population is Latinx or African American, yet these students comprise just 16% of students taking AP CS A and 15% of the technology workforce
Joan Ferrini-Mundy spoke at our White House Symposium on State Implementation of CS for All (pictured above). Joan is the Assistant Director at NSF for the Education and Human Resources Directorate. She speaks for Education Research. She phrased her remarks as three research areas for the CS for All initiative, but I think that they could be reasonably interpreted as three sets of warnings. These are the things that could go wrong, that we ought to be paying attention to.
1. Graduation Requirements: Joan noted that many states are making CS “count” towards high school graduation requirements. She mentioned that we ought to consider the comments of organizations such as NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) and NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics). She asked us to think about how we resolve these tensions, and to track what are the long term effects of these “counting” choices.
People in the room may not have been aware that NSTA had just (October 17) come out with a statement, “Computer Science Should Supplement, not Supplant Science Education.”
The NCTM’s statement (March 2015) is more friendly towards computer science, it’s still voiced as a concern:
Ensuring that students complete college- and career-readiness requirements in mathematics is essential. Although knowledge of computer science is also fundamental, a computer science course should be considered as a substitute for a mathematics course graduation requirement only if the substitution does not interfere with a student’s ability to complete core readiness requirements in mathematics. For example, in states requiring four years of mathematics courses for high school graduation, such a substitution would be unlikely to adversely affect readiness.
Both the NSTA and NCTM statements are really saying that you ought to have enough science and mathematics. If you only require a couple science or math courses, then you shouldn’t swap out CS for one of those. I think it’s a reasonable position, but Joan is suggesting that we ought to be checking. How much CS, science, and mathematics are high school students getting? Is it enough to be prepared for college and career? Do we need to re-think CS counting as science or mathematics?
2. Teacher Credentialing: Teacher credentials in computer science are a mishmash. Rarely is there a specific CS credential. Most often, teachers have a credential in business or other Career and Technical Education (CTE or CATE, depending on the state), and sometimes mathematics or science. Joan asked us, “How is that working?” Does the background matter? Which works best? It’s not an obvious choice. For example, some CS Ed researchers have pointed out that CTE teachers are often better at teaching diverse audiences than science or mathematics teachers, so CTE teachers might be better for broadening participation in computing. We ought to be checking.
3. The Mix of Curricular Issues: While STEM has a bunch of frameworks and standards to deal with, we know what they are. There’s NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) and the National Research Council Framework. There’s Common Core. There are the NCTM recommendations.
In Computer Science, everything is new and just developing. We just had the K-12 CS Framework released. There are ISTE Standards, and CSTA Standards, and individual state standards like in Massachusetts. Unlike science and mathematics, CS has almost no assessments for these standards. Joan explicitly asked, “What works where?” Are our frameworks and standards good? Who’s going to develop the assessments? What’s working, and under what conditions?
I’d say Joan is being a critical friend. She wants to see CS for All succeed, but she doesn’t want that to cost achievement in other areas of STEM. She wants us to think about the quality of CS education with the same critical eye that we apply to mathematics and science education.
Research+Practice Partnerships and Finding the Sweet Spots: Notes from the ECEP and White House Summit
I wrote back in October about the summit on state implementation of the CS for All initiative which we at Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) alliance organized with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). You can see the agenda here and a press release on the two days of meetings here.
I have been meaning to write about some of the lessons I learned in those two days, but have been simply slammed this month. I did finally write about some of the incremental steps that states are taking towards CS for All in my Blog@CACM post for November. That post is about the models of teacher certification that are developing, the CSNYC school-based mandate, and New Hampshire’s micro-certifications.
In this post, I want to tell you about a couple of the RPC ideas that I found most compelling. The first part of the day at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB) on the White House grounds was organized by the Research+Practice Collaboratory (RPC). I was the moderator for the first panel of the day, where Phil Bell, Nichole Pinkard, and Dan Gallagher talked about the benefits of combining research plus practice.
I was excited to hear about the amazing work that Nichole Pinkard (pictured above) is doing in Chicago, working with Brenda Wilkerson in Chicago Public Schools. Nichole is a learning scientist who has been developing innovative approaches to engaging urban youth (see her Digital Youth Network website). She has all these cool things she’s doing to make the CS for All efforts in Chicago work. She’s partnering with Chicago parks and libraries — other than schools, they’re the ones who cover the city and connect with all kids. She’s partnering with Comcast to create vans that can go to parks to create hotspots for connectivity. Because she’s a researcher working directly with schools, they can do things that researchers alone would find hard to do — like when a student shows up to a CS activity, she can email the student’s parents to tell them the next steps to make sure that they continue the activity at home.
There was a second panel on “Finding the Sweet Spot: What Problems of Practice are Ripe for Knowledge Generation?” I didn’t know Shelley Pasnik from the Center for Children and Technology, and she had an idea I really liked that connected to one of Nichole’s points. Shelley emphasizes “2Gen learning,” having students bring with them parents or even grandparents so that there are two generations of learners involved. The older generation can learn alongside the student, and keep the student focused on the activity.
I know that the RPC folks are producing a report on their activity at the summit, so I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about their work.
Ruthe Farmer let me know that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is explicitly interested in getting research commitments in response to this call:
In less than two months, there will be another opportunity to celebrate, to mark progress, and to grow the coalition working to expand computer science. This Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), taking place from December 5-11, schools, community organizations, families, companies, and government agencies-including the White House and Federal agencies like NASA, the National Science Foundation, the US Patent and Trademark Office, and the Department of Energy-will host events and activities to give students direct access to CS. This will include everything from Family Code Nights that engage parents and students in learning computer science together, to Hour of Code events at schools, in homes, and online worldwide, to events here at the White House highlighting making and computer science, bringing broadband internet access to all Americans, and using open data to drive innovation.
With your help, this upcoming CSEdWeek has the potential to be the largest and most successful to date and we look forward to hearing about your plans. One of the ways your organization can get involved is to commit to expand computer science in your community or nationally, with measurable, specific goals that uniquely utilize what you can do to spread opportunity.
If you have an action you want to undertake to support CS education, submit it here by November 14, 2016. We want to hear about remarkable strides being made in your community and how we can build on them!
The Research+Practice Collaboratory led the ECEP State Teams last week in framing research questions relevant to the President’s CS for All initiative. Below are some of my pictures from that effort, to prime thinking about the research questions that surround CS for All. (I have a lot more to tell about last week’s meetings, but first I have to recover and recoup time lost to planning/logistics/travel.)
I was thrilled when I got this message two weeks ago:
We have been working for months now on a big meeting organized by ECEP with the Research+Practice Collaboratory and Ruthe Farmer of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The goal is to organize state and federal leaders in growing CS for All in the states. Here’s my written-for-ECEP description of the agenda (not official, not vetted by OSTP, etc.):
CS for All: State-Level Research and Action Summit
The first part of the Friday sessions at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is aimed at strengthening connections between research and practice. The NSF’s CS10K efforts and the President’s CS for All Initiative have created an unprecedented rise in the implementation of CS education efforts across the United States. Making education reform systematic and sustainable requires cross-sector efforts with shared goals and meaningful data collection that can inform practice. We need to make sure that we are building and using evidence-based knowledge about what’s happening in our CS for All efforts.
CS for all is a rare education research opportunity. The American education canon does not change often. We need to create research-practice partnerships to improve our understanding of what works and why. The Research+Practice Collaboratory (Bronwyn Bevan, Phil Bell, Bill Penuel) will be bringing in a group of learning sciences researchers (including Shuchi Grover, Nichole Pinkard, and Kylie Peppler) and practitioners to work with the ECEP state teams. The goal is to learn how research-practice partnerships can help the field identify key questions and areas for building and sustaining evidence-based practice.
The afternoon session is focused on understanding where the state’s are today. ECEP Evaluators, Sagefox, will share with state groups benchmark data. We will review data on the evaluation of the efforts to make Exploring CS, CS Principles, Bootstrap, and Code.org curricula and professional development available across the country. As a group, we will review state efforts in computer science education implementation and reform. States identify their greatest successes and identify their most pressing needs.
The evening session at OSTP is focused on making the President’s CS for All initiative work at the state level. In the United States, K-12 curriculum and policies are decided at the state-level. Obama Administration officials will help the state teams to understand the goals of the CS for All initiative. Four state teams will share their successes and efforts, which differ considerably from one another as they meet the unique challenges and objectives of their state’s education system.
The CS for All initiative means that we all students in all schools in all districts get access to CS education. Each of our 16 states and Puerto Rico will summarize their successes and lessons learned in 3 minute madness talks. We’ll have two panels — one on negotiating state structures and processes when implementing CS for All, and one on how to make sure that we broaden participation while we aim for CS for All (to avoid being CS Just For Rich Kids). We will have a luncheon keynote from Cameron Wilson of Code.org on how they are aiming to create CS education that reaches all students.
The CS for All initiative requires us to reach all students in a system and sustainable way.
- Reaching Broader: We can see from the benchmark data where CS initiatives are focused and where there are gaps. Not all districts are implementing CS education yet. We need to develop strategies for filling in the gaps.
- Reaching Deeper: The data also show us where CS initiatives are starting but shallow. In most districts, a handful of teachers are getting short professional learning opportunities with little follow-up. Teachers need effective learning opportunities that give them the knowledge and self-confidence to make CS a sustainable topic. We need to develop strategies to make CS change deep, systemic, and sustainable.
State teams develop and share their strategies to reach broader and deeper.
Maryland school district showcases computer science education at all levels: ECEP’s role in Infrastructure
The Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance, funded by NSF to support broadening participation in computing through state-level efforts, is one of the more odd projects I’ve been part of. I don’t know how to frame the research aspect of what we’re doing. We’re not learning about learning or teaching, nor about computer science. We’re learning a lot about how policy makers think about CS, how education is structured in different states (and how CS is placed within that structure), and how decision-making happens around STEM education.
It’s not the kind of story that the press loves. We’re not building curriculum. We don’t work directly with students or teachers. We fund others to do summer camps and provide professional development. We help states figure out how to measure what’s going on in their state with computing education. We help organize (and sometimes fund) meetings, and we get states sharing with each other how to talk to policy makers and industry leaders.
So it’s nice when we get a blurb like the below, in a story about the terrific efforts to grow CS for All in Charles County, MD. It’s amazing how much Charles County has accomplished in providing computing education in every school. I’m pleased that ECEP’s role got recognized in what’s going on there.
Expanding Computer Education Pathways (ECEP) provided grant funding for summer camp computer programs. CCPS’s facilitators participate in their Train-the-Trainer webinars to design and plan an effective workshop, build an educator community, increase diversity in Computer Science and teach Computer Science content knowledge. ECEP also funded the Maryland Computer Science Summit in a joint effort with Maryland State Department of Education to bring over 200 attendees from every county in Maryland to share and set priorities for Computer Science education.
Google has now released the results of the Gallup surveys from last year of parents, teachers, and principals about attitudes on CS disaggregated by 11 populous US states — see state reports (and methodology explanation) here. The blog announcement about the report is here. These are fascinating to read, especially for me and my colleagues since some of these states are also ECEP states (see our recent report on activity in ECEP states). Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Texas are doing much better than the US average in this analysis, while Ohio and North Carolina are far behind.
These are the results of a large scale survey, not an interview, or focus groups. The advantage is that we get a lot of answers (9, 693 elementary school principals across the US). The disadvantage is that they answered these questions, without probes, follow-ups, or any “What did you mean by that?”
For example, one of the benchmark items is “CS offered > 5 years.” My first thought was that this meant that there was CS offered in the curriculum for five grades, e.g., middle school and high school. The actual question answered by principals was “How long has your school offered opportunities to learn computer science? (% greater than 5 years)” So this item is about the longevity of CS ed at these particular schools that were sampled. That’s interesting, but I’m not sure what it says about the state compared to the particular schools sampled — especially in local control states (e.g., California, Massachusetts, Nebraska) where individual districts can do anything they want.
We’re told that parents want more CS, but principals and parents mostly think that CS is computer literacy (e.g., how to use a computer). We’re told that 64% of Michigan principals say “just as/more important” to “Do you think offering opportunities to learn CS is more important, just as important, or less important to a student’s future success than required courses like math, science, history and English?” What does that mean, if they think that CS is keyboarding skills? When 11% of the principals in Illinois say that demand for CS education among parents is high, does that mean that the principals think the parents think it’s keyboarding? or real CS? Is one more valuable than the other to parents, in the opinion of principals? Maybe the principals are right, and only 11% of the parents would want CS if they knew what CS was.
Overall, recommended reading, but sometimes, it feels like reading tea leaves.