How to Change a State

Because every state’s education systems and policies are unique, ECEP suggests a five-step process toward state-level computer science education reform. Collaboration across sectors is central to this process.

  1. Find your leader(s): Computing education reform doesn’t just happen. Someone (or a small group of someones) has to take the initiative.
  2. Figure out where you are and where you’re going: The hardest part is seeing the big picture (of how schools, higher education, businesses, and state politics have to work together) and figuring out how to make change within a state. Ten years into ECEP, and we're still surprised at the state differences. For instance, Hawaii makes all education decisions at the district level (like California and Massachusetts), but all of Hawaii is one school district. All those islands, one school board.
  3. Gather your allies: Find all the high school teachers, university faculty, business leaders, and state Department of Education leaders who want to work together. We find that efforts that speak with multiple voices from different sectors to promote computing education tend to get more influence in state government.
  4. Get initial funding: There are big ticket items for computing education, like professional learning opportunities for all your high school teachers. But there are smaller ticket items that need to happen early on in the process. One of these is a landscape report. Landscape reports are helpful in addressing the 'Where are we now?' question and with identifying gaps in CS education across a state. There are several of these available under resources on our website. Another is a summit, a face-to-face meeting of all your allies, along with the people that you’d like to influence (the ones who will come), to develop a set of shared goals and a shared strategy for getting there.
  5. Focus on data: Setting measurable goals and agreeing on BPC-focused metrics is a new stage in ECEP’s model of state change that has emerged as our states have matured in their BPC efforts. Data allows state teams to identify specific high need underserved populations, establish measurable goals to serve these populations, and clearly track the impact of BPC efforts for policy-makers, funders and other stakeholders.