Posts tagged ‘high school CS’

More diversity and more progress with CS teachers vs just on-line:

Hadi Partovi of has a blog post (see here) with data from their on-line classes.  He’s making the argument that classroom teachers are super important for diversity and for student success.

Learning #1: Classrooms progress farther than students studying alone

In the graph below, the X axis is student age, the Y axis is their average progress in our courses. The blue line is students in classrooms with teachers. The red line is students studying without a classroom/teacher.


Learning #3: The ethnic backgrounds of students with teachers are impressively diverse

The data below doesn’t come from all students, because (for privacy reasons) we do not allow students to tell us their ethnic background. This chart was collected via an opt-in survey of teachers in the U.S. offering our courses, and as such is susceptible to inaccuracy. The picture it paints helps confirm our thesis that by integrating computer science into younger-aged classrooms in public schools, we can increase the diversity of students learning computer science.

February 25, 2015 at 8:03 am 5 comments

CSTA – Oracle Survey: Access to and Understanding of Computer Science Education in US Schools

A new survey from both CSTA and Oracle.  None of the findings are too surprising.  What’s probably surprising is that this picture doesn’t seem too different from past CSTA surveys (see list of all of them here).  Efforts like the Hour of Code are reaching lots of students, but may not yet be making much impact on most schools and districts.

In addition, participants applied the term “computer science” to a vast array of topics and courses, many of which were submitted as “other” courses in response to the topics that were provided in the survey. Participants classified studies in business management, yearbook layout, artificial intelligence, robotics, office applications, and automated design as computer science courses. This broad use of “computer science” to encompass curriculum and courses that would not be considered “computer science” at a college/university or professional level indicates a need for educational community consensus on a common definition of computer science education and curricular content, lest we lead students or teachers to believe they are preparing students for college and careers when in fact, they are not. This perhaps begs the question whether “computer science” as a designation is being applied inappropriately for funding or other reasons.

Administrators stated that the most prevalent computer science course offered was Web Design and Development, followed by Intro to Computer Science with 54% of the schools offering it in grade 9, 47% offering it in grade 10, 39% offering it in grade 11, 37% offering it in grade 12, and only 27% offering at least one intro to CS course all four years. These were followed by computer graphics and programming. The top four content areas covered in computer science courses were listed as problem solving at 65%, ethical and social issues and graphics tied at 57%, and web development at 51%. However, analysis of algorithms came in at 35% as did testing and debugging. Each of these content areas are core to computer science and in particular programming.

One of the most important findings from the study suggests that better-funded schools are offering CS to their students at a far higher rate than low-income schools. This research verifies what was only previously suspected. Of the 27% of schools where the majority of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, 63% offer computer science courses. Of the 44% of schools where the majority of students do not qualify for free lunch, 84% offer computer science courses.

via CSTA – OracleSurvey.

February 11, 2015 at 8:03 am Leave a comment

Predictions about education for 2015

There are lots of these kinds of lists around the beginning of a new year, but I thought that these predictions were interesting. I’m betting that the first one below is right, but I know a lot of people are betting against it. I’m seeing the second one in my discussions with K12 education policymakers in states.  They want their students to come out with “job skills,” which is hard to do with an introduction to computing designed for students who have no previous background.

10. Online learning will grow modestly (Eduventures): The company predicts that enrollment in wholly online degree programs will be modest this year, with only 2 percent growth due mostly to uncertainty and indecision among adult learners. At the same time, the percentage of colleges entering the online market will grow very little, if at all. “Growth will be stunted due to increased regulatory concerns such as state authorization, competition from large adult-serving providers, and enrollment strategies incapable of keeping pace with the savvyness of today’s adult learners,” it stated. “Institutions will back away from online programming to focus on blended learning and improving quality and access for traditional age students.”

11. Outcomes will dominate (Eduventures): Eduventures research shows that in 2013, “career preparation” surpassed “academic strength” as the top priority for both students and parents in selecting a school. Adding to parent and student concerns, the government has increased its focus on this issue, including the possibility of Title IV funding consequences. “Look for schools to become more aggressive in differentiating themselves in reporting outcomes data in 2015,” said the company.

via 15 higher-ed technology predictions for 2015 – Page 2 of 2 – eCampus News | eCampus News | 2.

January 20, 2015 at 7:03 am 1 comment

Search is on for new CSTA Executive Director

I wrote a while back about Chris Stephenson moving to Google.  It’s time to find a new executive director for CSTA!

The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) announces its search for an Executive Director. The Executive Director must be deeply committed to CSTA’s core mission, which is to empower, support and advocate for K-12 computer science teachers worldwide. The Executive Director reports to and works collaboratively with the Board of Directors to set strategic direction, develop goals, attain/manage resources, and establish policies for the organization.

The Executive Director is responsible for the organization’s consistent achievement of its mission and financial objectives and ensures ongoing programmatic excellence, rigorous program evaluation, and consistent quality of finance, administration, fundraising, communications, and organizational systems.

This is a full-time position. The Executive Director manages a staff including an Assistant Director and four part-time administrators (meeting planner, web developer, project coordinator, and newsletter editor), and conducts their work from a virtual office. Considerable travel is required.

For position specifications, including key responsibilities, qualifications, and procedures for candidacy, please visit

January 17, 2015 at 8:56 am Leave a comment

Off to WIPSCE 2014: 9th Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education in Berlin

Barbara and I are attending the WIPSCE 2014 conference, the 9th Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education in Berlin. See the program here and the proceedings here.  I was impressed as a reviewer this year — the quality of papers at WIPSCE is exceptionally high.  There is worldwide interest in improving K-12 computing education, and reports are flowing into WIPSCE on research findings and lessons-learned from all over the world.

Barbara is presenting a short paper on Friday (with co-authors Tom McKlin and me) on “Preparing Secondary Computer Science Teachers Through an Iterative Development Process.”  She’s going to tell how her professional development effort at Georgia Tech developed, using feedback from Tom’s evaluation efforts.  She’ll offer some of her lessons learned, such as using teachers themselves as providers where ever possible, to establish leaders in the community of teachers and to make the PD more sustainable.

I am honored to be the keynote speaker on Thursday morning.  My talk is on “Preparing Teachers is Different than Preparing Software Developers.”  I’m going to talk about what teachers need to know and do that’s different from software developers, with a particular emphasis on pedagogical-content knowledge, on reading code more than writing code, and about writing code to learn rather than to produce software.  I’m still working on my talk.  The audience is going to be primary and secondary school CS teachers AND researchers and providers of teacher professional learning opportunities.  So, how much do I tell teachers things that they might find useful in the classroom, and how much do I tell results from research or give suggestions on how to facilitate teacher learning?  I’ll let you know how it goes.


November 5, 2014 at 7:55 am 4 comments

2014 AP Exam Score Distributions: AP CS had a big increase, bimodal scores

Barb will probably do her demographic analysis in the Fall. Gas Station Without Pumps analysis on raw scores is out now and is quite interesting.

The Computer Science A exam saw an increase of 33% in test takers, with about a 61% pass rate 3, 4, or 5. The exams scores were heavily bimodal, with peaks at scores of 4 and at 1.  I wonder whether the new AP CS courses that Google funded contributed more to the 4s or to the 1s. I also wonder whether the scores clustered by schools, with some schools doing a decent job of teaching Java syntax most of what the AP CS exam covers, so far as I can tell and some doing a terrible job, or whether the bimodal distribution is happening within classes also.  I suspect clustering by school is more prevalent. The bimodal distribution of scores was there in 2011, 2012, and 2013 also, so is not a new phenomenon.  Calculus BC sees a similar bimodal distribution in past years—the 2014 distribution is not available yet.

via 2014 AP Exam Score Distributions | Gas station without pumps.

July 13, 2014 at 8:25 am 1 comment

Why Counting CS as a Foreign Language Credit is a Bad Idea from CSTA Blog

Interesting and detailed response to the decision in Texas (and proposed in New Mexico and Kentucky) to count programming as a foreign language.

When these policy makers look at schools, they see that computer science is not part of the “common core” of prescribed learning for students. And then they hear that Texas has just passed legislation to enable students to count a computer science course as a foreign language credit and it seems like a great idea.

But all we have to do is to look at Texas to see how this idea could, at the implementation level, turn out to be an unfortunate choice for computer science education. Here are the unintended consequences

1. If a course counts as a foreign language course, it will be suggested that a new course must be created.

2. If a new course is created, chances are that it won’t fit well into any of the already existing course pathways for college-prep or CTE.

3. This new course will be added to the current confusing array of “computing” courses which students and their parents already find difficult to navigate.

4. There will be pressure brought to ensure that that course focuses somehow on a “language”. For the last ten years we have been trying to help people understand that computer science is more than programming. Programming/coding is to computer science as the multiplication table is to mathematics, a critical tool but certainly not the entire discipline.

5. If this new course is going to be a “language” course, we have to pick a language (just one). And so the programming language wars begin.

via Computer Science Teachers Association.

March 19, 2014 at 1:06 am 5 comments

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