ECEP Alliance holds national summit in Washington, D.C.

Nov. 18, 2016 -- Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) held a national summit in Washington, D.C. Oct. 28-29, which was attended by computer science education-focused leaders from 16 states and Puerto Rico. Attendees included K-16 educators, researchers, and leaders from non-profit organizations, industry, and government.
 
The first day of the ECEP Summit, held on the White House grounds in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, was in conjunction with the White House Symposium on State Implementation of Computer Science (CS) for All and was co-sponsored with the White House Domestic Policy Council and the Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Research + Practice Collaboratory (R+PC). The second day, the 90+ attendees gathered at the George Washington University, Mount Vernon Campus.
 
Summit goals included strengthening community among ECEP state leaders, exploring models of state-level education practice with research collaborations, and using meaningful measures of change to inform strong state CS for All strategies.
 
“[The ECEP Summit] was a great blend of theory, research, practice, and policy from different and new perspectives I haven’t heard from in our regular CS gatherings,” said Julie Flapan, Executive Director, Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools (ACCESS). “Being at the conference and learning from each other reinforced the importance of a community of statewide advocates for BPC (Broadening Pathways in Computing),” Flapan shared.
 
ECEP’s focus on equity and integrating broadening participation into state-level CS for All planning set the tone for panels and workshops.
 
On Friday, Oct. 28, attendees began the day with a workshop facilitated by R+PC. The goal was to explore how research-practice partnerships can help identify key questions and areas for building and sustaining evidence-based practice. While some ECEP states already have strong research-practice partnerships, the presentation allowed all participants to consider new models of what works and why.
 
“The National Science Foundation’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,” said ECEP Alliance Manager at UMass Amherst Sarah Dunton. “Making education reform systematic and sustainable requires cross-sector efforts with shared goals and meaningful data collection that can inform practice.”
 
ECEP’s evaluators, the SageFox Consulting Group, led Friday afternoon discussions by states on their progress toward CS for All and the barriers. “Each state was provided with key indicators (data) and resources to support their conversations,” explained Alan Peterfreund, SageFox Consulting Group Executive Director. “State teams discussed what evidence and metrics best measure and influence their work.”
 
Friday culminated with an event at which officials from the OSTP, the Education Domestic Policy Council, and the U.S. Department of Education helped the state teams to understand the goals of the CS for All initiative. Jan Cuny, Program Director for Computing Education at the NSF shared the history of the broadening participation in computing alliance work. Megan Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, concluded the White House Symposium on State Implementation of CS for All with words of encouragement and inspiration for state education leaders.
 
Energized by the White House sessions from the prior day, the ECEP state teams dug deeper into their state-level work on day two of the summit. States shared highlights of their own CS education initiatives with brief flash talks throughout the day. A panel, facilitated by ECEP Principal Investigator Rick Adrion of UMass Amherst, discussed how each state’s educational and political system, and policy actors, influence how leaders approach CS education reform. Mark Guzdial, ECEP Principal investigator, led a second panel on broadening participation in computing.
 
“I don't know what I expected, but I was overwhelmed to learn so much that I can take back with our team to move our agenda forward in Connecticut,” said Seth Freeman, Computer Information Systems Professor at Capital Community College in Hartford, Conn. “I feel much more a part of the ECEP alliance, much better informed, prepared, and motivated to tackle this enormous and important challenge of CS for All.”
 
Computer Science for All is President Obama’s initiative to ensure computer science education is available to all students across the U.S. CS for All is a national effort announced by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, led by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education in partnership with other federal agencies and private partners. More information can be found at www.csforall.org
 
ECEP (Expanding Computing Education Pathways) is a National Science Foundation-funded Broadening Participation in Computing alliance to facilitate state-level computing education reforms. ECEP builds on five years of work by CAITE (Commonwealth Alliance for Information Technology Education) and Georgia Computes! Each has been successful in facilitating state-level systemic change that has improved the quality of computing education, broadened participation in computing, and increased the number of students in the pathway to computing and computing-intensive degrees. The ECEP Alliance includes 16 states – Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia - and Puerto Rico. More information can be found at www.ecepalliance.org.