Texas SBOE Requires Districts to Offer Two Computer Science Courses

This blog piece is reposted with permission from the TCEA Advocacy Network Blog. Please see http://tceaadvocacy.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/texas-sboe-requires-districts-to-offer-two-computer-science-courses/ for the original blog posting.
On Friday, April 11th, the Texas State Board of Education made some changes to the education code in the chapter that tells districts what courses they are required to offer.
The minutes for this meeting won’t be published until the SBOE approves them in July. However, below are the changes they approved for the courses that are required in Technology Applications.
TEA has not updated the website to reflect the changes, but the change was made in Chapter 74. Curriculum Requirements, Subchapter A. Required Curriculum, 74.3, (b) (2) (I) as follows:
(I) technology applications – Computer Science I and Computer Science II or AP Computer Science, and at least two courses selected from Computer Science III, Digital Art and Animation, Digital Communications in the 21st Century, Digital Design and Media Production, Digital Forensics, Digital Video and Audio Design, Discrete Mathematics for Computer Science, Fundamentals of Computer Science, Game Programming and Design, Independent Study in Evolving/Emerging Technologies, Independent Study in Technology Applications, Mobile Application Development, Robotics Programming and Design, 3-D Modeling and Animation, Web Communications, Web Design, and Web Game Development;
This is the portion of education code where it lists what school districts are required to offer. This change requires districts to offer Computer Science I and Computer Science II OR AP Computer Science, and then choose two other Technology Application courses from the list, for a total of four courses.
Jennifer Bergland
TCEA
Director of Governmental Relations

Senator Gillibrand Proposes New Legislation for CS

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U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced today her education agenda to encourage more youths, especially women, to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and to encourage the development of computer science career education programs that meet the market needs of employers.
“New York is home to some of the greatest colleges and universities, a world-class workforce and innovative career opportunities,” Senator Gillibrand said. “But if we’re going to keep our competiveness in the global economy, and keep our skilled workforce in the region, we must prepare our students with the education they need for the jobs of the future. That starts with getting more talented students from diverse backgrounds into the STEM pipeline at a younger age, expanding engineering education, and developing programs that will introduce students to the many career opportunities in computer science. We are relying on our children today to be the innovators of tomorrow. It’s our job to make sure they are prepared.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020 1 in every 2 STEM jobs will be in computing and there will be 1.4 million jobs in computer science and only 400,000 students with a computer science degree. Despite these opportunities, most states do not offer computer science courses as part of their core curriculum in math and science and have focused on offering technology literacy or computing application courses.
Gillibrand’s proposed Computer Science Career Education Act, would establish a grant program to encourage the development of computer science career education programs that meet the market needs of employers and better integrate secondary and postsecondary education. Grants under this program would be awarded to a consortium between State or local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, non-profit organization, and employers in the computer science sector.
Chris Stephenson
CSTA Executive Director

CSTA Teacher Leader Testifies in Illinois

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CSTA is now advocating for improvements to computer science education in many states and members of the CSTA Computer Science Advocacy and Leadership Team (CSALT) such as Steve Svetlik of Illinois have been instrumental in these efforts, working with legislators and testifying on key legislation.
This week, Steve and IL representative Ken Dunklin testified before the IL House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on House Bill 3695. If it passes, this legislation will allow students to count an Advanced Placement computer science course as one of the three mathematics credits required for a high school diploma. Attendees at the event report that Steve was an excellent speaker and the committee members were clearly impressed with his knowledge.
Not only did the committee unanimously approve the proposed legislation, but all of the committee members asked to be added as co-sponsors!
After his time before the Committee, Steve walked around the building, talking with additional legislators and getting them to sign up as sponsors as well.
Other CSTA members in IL also played a role in CSTA’s advocacy efforts. Jessica Handy, Government Affairs Director for Stand for Children Illinois, reported that 33 witness slips were filed in support of this legislation.
HB 3695 will now go forward to the House and is expected to be called to the floor within the next couple of weeks.
Congratulations to Steve and thanks to Rep. Dunkin, Amy of Code.org, and Jessica of Stand for Children and to all of the CSTA members who made this accomplishment possible.
Chris Stephenson
CSTA Executive Director

CSTA Launches Job Board

In the last year CSTA has received an increasing number of requests from schools and organizations looking to find computer science teachers to fill new jobs. At the same time, we’ve also been receiving requests from teachers who are looking for new job opportunities. To meet the needs of both of these members, CSTA has launched a new job board!
The CSTA Career and Job Center is the perfect place for job seekers and employers in K–12 computer science education to find each other.
Job Seekers
The CSTA Career and Job Center will help you find your next great career opportunity in our searchable database of computer science education jobs. Search computer science education jobs in academia and corporate including: computer science teacher, technical coordinator/administrator, curriculum developer, K-12 computer science education outreach coordinator, and others. Post your resume, and take advantage of free career tools for job searchers. These services are provided FREE to CSTA individual educator members.
Employers
Get started today by creating a company profile, posting your available jobs, searching resumes, and begin your search for an exemplary educator. Employers can choose from the following cost options:

  • 30-Day Online Job Posting ($190)
  • Enhanced 30-Day Online posting ($250)
  • Premium 30-Day Online posting ($310)
  • To access the CSTA Job Board, visit:
    http://cstajobs.acm.org
    or click the Job Board button from the CSTA homepage.
    Chris Stephenson
    CSTA Executive Director

    Rep. Elizabeth Esty Gets CS Amendment Passed

    Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) has successfully offered an important amendment to H.R. 4186 to expand a STEM teacher professional development grant under the National Science Foundation to include computer science teachers.
    Esty’s amendment (one of two she put forward) is now part of H.R. 4186, which would renew parts of the “America COMPETES Act” to support investments in innovation through research and development and improve America’s competitiveness. H.R. 4186 successfully passed the Research and Technology Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, on which Esty serves.
    According to Rep. Esty, this amendment will give teachers additional resources to help prepare students for the jobs of the 21st century. “We have so many teachers in Connecticut who are going above and beyond to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, and it’s time we support them”, says Esty.
    According to the Conference Board, demand for computing professionals is roughly four times higher than the average demand for all other occupations, with more than 575,000 jobs in computing open as of January 2014. In the meantime, thousands of computer science teachers across the country struggle to get the same types of support and investments as their math and science colleagues. Rep. Esty’s work on this amendment is an important step in creating a more level praying field for computer science teachers by enabling them to access resources available to other STEM teachers.
    Chris Stephenson
    CSTA Executive Director

    Faces of Computing Poster Contest Winners

    In honor of Computer Science Education Week, CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2nd annual Faces of Computing student poster contest. This year, over 640 posters were entered into the contest. These posters were created by computing students in 8 countries and 25 U.S. states. The creativity and design process that went into making this collection of posters was phenomenal, making the judging process both challenging and rewarding. CSTA is pleased to award robots to the classrooms of the top three winners in each category.
    The winners of this year’s contests include:
    ELEMENTARY
    First Place
    Deziree Ensrud, Hanna Strom, Emma Cheyenne Barfield, Connor Elser, Sean Baker, Falesoa Tufi, Ariana Carter, Lacey Campbell, & Nettie Oswalt;
    Hal Kula Elementary in Wahiawa, HI.
    Teacher: Megan Cummings
    Second Place
    Espen Garner and Nico Anderson-Comas;
    St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano, CA.
    Teachers: Stefani Baker and Londa Posvistak
    Third Place
    Gojko Panic
    Djura Jaksic Elementary, Serbia.
    Teacher: Jasmina Jerkovic
    MIDDLE SCHOOL
    First Place
    Stephani Kim, Sue Lee, Vaishnavi Sesetty, & Sriya Srikanth
    Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown, MD.
    Teacher: Ebony Glover
    Second Place
    Gabriela Ortiz and Kimberly Ortiz-Figueroa;
    Corvallis Middle School of Arts and Technology in Norwalk, CA.
    Teacher: Margaret Munoz
    Third Place
    Sophia Achar, Alex Murphy, Eli Minsky, Jaren Lewison, Jason Kirschenbaum, Adam Frydman, Roslyn Tatom, Miles Schickman, Rebecca Herschberg, & Eden Schachter;
    Ann & Nate Levine Academy in Dallas, TX.
    Teacher: Sharolyn Brown
    HIGH SCHOOL
    First Place
    Gabriel Zarazua
    Grant High School in Valley Glen, CA.
    Teacher: Aimee Dozois
    Second Place
    Aaliyah Malone
    John D. O’Bryant in Roxbury, MA.
    Teacher: Denise Traniello
    Third Place
    Sierra Hearn
    Lincoln Public Schools IT Focus Program in Lincoln, NE.
    Teacher: Steve Carr
    All of the winning posters are now available for download on the CSTA website.
    Thanks to all students and teachers who took the time to participate in this contest!
    Joanna Goode
    Chair, Equity Committee

    SIGCSE 2014 a Great Opportunity for Professional Development

    I just got back from Atlanta where, while wearing one of my other hats, I helped to put together the program for the SIGCSE conference to be held March 5-8, 2014, in Atlanta, GA.
    I have never seen so much K-12 content at SIGCSE before. As the panels and special session chair, I was happy to have so many quality K-12 proposals submitted.
    There will be panels and special sessions sessions on:

  • using MOOCs to provide professional development for K-12 teachers,
  • looking at how K-12 CS is taught around the world,
  • using POGIL to teach introductory computing (with the CSTA Board’s own Tammy Pirmann),
  • useful teaching tips for K-12 educators (with Stephanie Hoeppner, also from the CSTA board, and also with Baker Franke and Josh Paley),
  • an update on the CS 10K project (getting 10,000 highly qualified teachers to teach K-12 CS),
  • two sessions from the CS Principles folks (one of those is with the ECS folks), and
  • a session on the AP exams.
  • There are also a large number of interesting and relevant papers, as well as many useful workshops (the workshops, unfortunately, are not free). I really wish that SIGCSE followed CSTA’s lead in videotaping sessions, as there are several times when there will many relevant events for K-12 teachers, and for those college faculty interested in K-12 issues.
    Hope to see many of you at SIGCSE this year!
    Steve Cooper
    CSTA Past Chair

    Hour of Code Launches in San Francisco

    Yesterday, Code.Org hosted an event in San Francisco to launch the Hour of Code program first introduced at the 2013 CSTA annual conference and in Myra Deister’s blog piece last week. The goal for the Hour of Code is to introduce 10 million students to one hour of introductory computer science during Computer Science Education Week, December 9-15, 2013.
    As part of the Hour of Code, participating educators, classrooms, and students will have a chance to win a variety of prizes. Support materials for educators, including self-guided tutorials, are also being made available to enable any educator, regardless of prior computer science experience, take part.
    One of the most interesting elements of yesterday’s launch was a panel moderated by CSTA member Professor Helene Martin from the University of Washington and featuring Microsoft’s Brad Smith, Google’s Maggie Johnson, HVF President and CEO Max Levchin, and California State Superintendent Tom Torlakson.
    Maggie Johnson of Google noted that the current computer science pipeline problem is really one of supply and demand, with too few students graduating to fill the available jobs and a lack of understanding of the wide variety of careers available in the field. She also noted the critical importance of better engaging all students to ensure that future industry design teams are truly diverse.
    Microsoft’s Brad Smith urged states to move as quickly as possible to enact new legislation to allow high school students to count computer science as as a math or science graduation credit. He also urged the federal government to increase HiB visa fees and use these fees to create a national education fund that would provide states with funding for critical initiatives such as computer science teacher training.
    California State Representative Tom Torlakson noted that his state is 40th in the nation when if comes to ensuring that student have access to needed hardware and software and that now is the time for states to ensure that “no child is left offline”. He pledged to urge schools in his state to participate in Hour of Code.
    Code.org’s Hadi Partovi also announced the impressive list of industry sponsors who have come onboard to offer prizes and help publicize Hour of Code via their websites. Clearly this is an event that has significant buy-in and support from industry.
    With the Hour of Code program, Code.org has the potential to focus unprecedented public and media attention on CSEd Week and to promote computer science education in ways ACM and CSTA only dreamed of when we began Computer Science Education week in 2009. And while it might be tempting to think that your individual contribution and commitment to CS Ed Week are no longer important in the face of all this new attention, the truth is that you are more important than ever. CSEd Week is, and will always be, the best possible time to share what you do in your classrooms every day to prepare your students for the future.
    So celebrate it proudly and let us know what you plan to do.
    Chris Stephenson
    CSTA Executive Director

    Greece Proposing Giant Step Backward

    Anyone who has followed the international news for the last couple of years has likely heard of the ongoing economic crisis in Greece. Only now, however, are we hearing about how that crisis is directly impacting education in the form of a new piece of legislation that will eliminate key Informatics (information technology and computer science) courses.
    A new bill entitled New Lyceum is currently under public consultation and it is expected to be submitted in final form to the Greek Parliament at the end of this month. If the new legislation passes, it will eliminate the Information and Communications Technology classes from the general upper secondary curriculum in Greek schools.
    CSTA members in Greece tell us that this proposed legislation is the latest in a series of national money-saving efforts which have specifically targeted teachers. According to Mina Theofilatou, who teaches Informatics at the secondary level in Argostoli, Greece, these efforts have been both extreme and frightening:
    Each time the state “runs out of money”, new measures need to be taken in return for the next loan instalment. Teachers were one of the easiest targets: first our salaries were slashed by approximately 40%. Then they increased our working week by 2 hours, and threatened to relocate us to any place in Greece if we were identified as “surplus” in our own region … Finally, when we started discussing a strike in reaction to all these unfair measures, they proceeded to issue a mobilisation order against us, served to each and every one of us by a policeman at our school or worse yet, our doorstep.
    More recently, says Theofilatou, the government began firing teachers in a effort to cut 15,000 civil service jobs in order to meet the current loan installment. The firings began with the elimination of 46 technology courses at the secondary level, resulting in the loss of many teachers’ jobs. The New Lyceum legislation is seen as an attempt to create similar employee reductions by eliminating computing courses.
    Educators in Greece are attempting to lobby the Ministry of Education and the Greek Members of the European Parliament, but it is difficult to say at this point whether their efforts will have any effect.
    Chris Stephenson
    Executive Director, CSTA

    Important New Report on CS Teacher Certification

    Over the years no topic has generated more frustration and concern for CSTA members than teacher certification/licensure and supplementary endorsement. As CSTA has been saying for a long time, teacher certification in this country is a dog’s breakfast (not all at all appealing) and it is time that states took a serious look at the ways in which they are actually discouraging good teachers from teaching in the field.
    Today CSTA released a new report called Bugs in the System: Computer Science Teacher Certification in the U.S. This report (developed with support from Google) is a comprehensive study of all 50 states and the District of Columbia revealing that each state (and in some states each school district) has its own process, its own definition of Computer Science, and its own idea of where Computer Science fits in the academic program and who is qualified to teach it.
    Bugs in the System reveals that only two states (Arizona and Wisconsin) require teachers to be certified/licensed in Computer Science and in many states there are no requirements for teaching Computer Science at all, meaning teachers with little or even no Computer Science knowledge can teach it and teacher preparation institutions are unlikely to offer programs for new Computer Science teachers.
    What doesn’t immediately jump to the forefront of the report is how incredibly difficult it was to collect this information and why that, in itself, is a critical part of the story. It took CSTA 18 months, hundreds of emails, hundreds of phone calls, and huge amounts of persistence to track down the information contained in the state report cards. This is because in many cases, the people responsible for determining and enforcing the regulations have no idea what they are for computer science or, in a surprising number of cases, what computer science actually is. Many administrators are still confusing computer science with basic computer literacy and with educational technology (the use of computers to support learning in other disciplines).
    What we are lovingly calling “the Bugs report” does provide very practical suggestions to address the current certification craziness. These include:

    • Establish a system of certification/licensure that ensures that all Computer Science teachers have appropriate knowledge of and are prepared to teach the discipline content.
    • Establish a system of certification/licensure that accounts for teachers coming to the discipline from multiple pathways with appropriate requirements geared to those pathways.
    • Require teacher preparation institutions and organizations (especially those purporting to support STEM education) to include programs to prepare Computer Science teachers.
    • Computer Science offers enormous opportunities to current and future students, so our national level failure to ensure that there are enough teachers who are well prepared to teach Computer Science makes no sense, but we need the support of the entire educational community to make the necessary improvements.
      Projections show that in the year 2020 there will be 9.2 million jobs in the “STEM fields” — those that rely on science, technology, engineering and mathematics — and half of those jobs will be in computing and IT and there is not nearly enough talent in the pipeline to fill these vacancies. Addressing the current problems with Computer Science teacher certification/licensure is an important step towards ensuring all students have the opportunity to take the courses that will provide the fundamental knowledge and skills to prepare them for future computing jobs.
      Chris Stephenson
      CSTA Executive Director