State leaders compare approaches to reforming CS education

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August 25, 2015 - Leaders from 8 U.S. states and territories gathered in Charlotte, NC to share their efforts to bring computer science to underrepresented students in schools and colleges at the ECEP alliance annual meeting on Aug. 15, 2015. Several state organizations were represented, including the Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools (ACCESS), Computer Science Education in South Carolina Steering Committee, Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN), and the Texas Alliance for Computer Science Education (TACSE).
 
Participants networked and exchanged information about how they are working with stakeholders from education, government, and industry to improve educational pathways in computing. “I’m definitely going to follow up and talk with my colleague at TACSE,” said James Stanton, executive director of MassCAN.
 
Participants selected specific issues to discuss in afternoon sessions on four topics: (1) K12 teacher professional development and standards, (2) teacher credentials, (3) creating a statewide organization for CS education reform, and (4) how to measure progress in a state.
 
“I learned that changing teacher certification is hard and each state does it its own way,” said Marie desJardins, professor of computer science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and leader of CS Matters in Maryland. Debra Richardson, professor of informatics at the University of California Irvine, shared her progress in revising the teacher endorsement for computer science in California. “We agreed that having no certification is bad, but having one that is outdated is also bad,” she added.
 
ECEP leaders also discussed benefits available to ECEP alliance state members, including access to an experts bureau, tools for evaluation, mini-grants, models and seed funds for summer computing camps, and support for teacher-trainers.
 
Rick Adrion, ECEP PI from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, pointed to the economic, gender, and racial diversity of community college students and the potential to smooth transfer pathways into bachelor’s degree programs for those students. “Some states have good transfer policies, but in others students get lost,” he said. “Through ECEP we can share what we’ve learned and done in Massachusetts for transfer students with others states.”
 
States and territories represented at the annual meeting included CA, GA, NH, MD, MA, PR, SC, and TX.
 
“Members of our state cohort said they liked how much we packed into the day, including time for them to discuss what they are working on with each other,” said ECEP PI Mark Guzdial, professor in the College of Computing at Georgia Tech. “We look forward to working with the group over the next two years and learning how they are learning from each other.”
 
The ECEP Alliance annual meeting was the first in-person gathering since the alliance has grown to include 11 states this spring. The meeting was co-located with the STARS Celebration and RESPECT conference, which is the first conference of peer-reviewed research on broadening participation in computing.