Educators strategize for state-level computing education reform at SIGCSE

Friday, March 28, 2014

Some didn’t know where to start; others knew the lay of the land in their states. All 25 came to the March 6, 2014 “birds of a feather” (BOF) session at the 45th Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE 2014) in Atlanta to learn how other states are approaching the goal of expanding computer science education.

Participants gathered in sub-groups to focus on one of four priority areas: (1) making computer science (CS) count for graduation/admissions; (2) CS curriculum and standards; (3) teacher licensure/certification/endorsement and professional development; or (4) creating state-based alliances. ECEP PIs Rick Adrion and Mark Guzdial and co-PIs Barb Ericson and Renee Fall each facilitated a group, posing questions such as: “Do CS teachers have to be licensed in your state?” “Are there standards for computer science in high school in your state? How were they set?” “Who decides whether computer science can count for graduation credit?” “What current organizations exist that have an interest in computing education? How might they work together?” Facilitators gathered input on poster paper on each wall and summarized each group’s insights at the end of the 50-minute session.

“I know this is important, but I don’t really know what’s going on in my state,” said one participant, who left having heard how several other states have organized groups to work toward reform.  “It was really interesting to learn about standards in the other states,” said a high school teacher. Another participant noted the next day, “That was one of the most useful sessions I attended.”

In addition to facilitating the BOF, ECEP partners presented research on demographics and performance using Advanced Placement CS data (Barb Ericson & Mark Guzdial), increasing the number of black students passing the AP CS exam (Ericson); and workshops on Artbotics (Adam Norton) and computing summer camp projects (Ericson).  ECEP also had a presence at a joint booth in the exhibit area that focused on projects to broaden participation in computing.