Leadership magazine Sept/Oct 2015 V45 No 1 | Page 35

to scaffold this learning and ensure all students have access and are well-prepared for these possibilities. Teachers across disciplines can build on student interest in technology by allowing students to design technical solutions to problems in science, math, social studies, the arts and literacy. An understanding of computer science can make courses in these subjects more relevant for youth, potentially improving their engagement and achievement in all areas. And, early exposure to computer science opens students’ eyes to the possibilities of careers in fields they didn’t even know existed. Knowing how to prioritize computer science instruction in our K-12 schools is challenging, given the competing educational demands. To be successful, schools need to build internal capacity, including teachers who know the subject and can teach it, rigorous curriculum, robust and ongoing professional development, connectivity and resources in the classroom, and room on the master school calendar for new career pathway courses. Students also need more incentives to take computer science, given crowded school schedules. The National Science Foundation has set a goal of having 10,000 well-trained computer science teachers in 10,000 high school across the United States. In California, NSF funding has supported a wide-ranging portfolio of research and curriculum development designed to broaden participation in computer science by appealing to underrepresented students in computer science. California now leads the nation in developing computer science curriculum and professional learning opportunities for teachers. In an effort to engage students beyond traditional programming courses, the National Science Foundation supports a pathway of courses, including a few highlighted below. Promising practices: New initiatives There is an array of new and innovative initiatives for computer science instruction. Exploring Computer Science is designed as an entry-level computer science course, building skills and exposing all students to computer science. C-STEM courses integrate math with programming and robotics. Project Lead the Way has a full K-12 computer science curriculum that begins in kindergarten. Each of these programs offer UC a-g credit, rigorous curriculum, professional development for teachers and an associated learning community. The College Board, with funding from the National Science Foundation, is developing the framework for a new Advanced Placement computer science course, Computer Science Principles. The course will expose students to related issues of society, culture, and ethics. It will be engaging, accessible, inspiring, and rigorous and is now being piloted in select districts in California. 1. ity for computer science instruction is the ECS Professional Development Program. The intensive summer institutes, coaching, and quarterly inquiry groups throughout the year help build a professional learning community of teacher leaders. Teachers become equipped to facilitate socially relevant and hands-on equity-based instruction so that all students, especially those in schools with high numbers of lowincome students of color, are introduced to the problem solving, computational practices, creativity and critical thinking associated with doing computer science, rather Exploring Computer Science. ECS was developed in response to previous research, detailed in “Stuck in the Shallow End” (Margolis et al., 2008), that identified disparities in computer science learning opportunities that fall along race and socioeconomic lines. ECS is committed to addressing the injustices of a historically denied computer science education to underrepresented populations, while also providing students with an engaging yet rigorous experience. Researchers and educators at UCLA’s Center X, in partnership with LAUSD, developed ECS as an a-g and career technical education-approved introductory computer science course (www.exploringcs.org). It was designed to introduce students to the breadth of the field of computer science, and develops students’ computational thinking practices within the context of problems that are culturally and socially relevant to the lives of today’s students. More than 2,000 students are enrolled in ECS this school year in LAUSD, with majority Latino/a and African American participation and 45 percent female students. ECS is a year-long high school computer science curriculum that has been adopted in several major urban districts nationwide. Through teacher workshops and a professional ECS learning communi ty, teachers learn strategies to effectively teach students problem solving, web design, programming, data analysis, robotics and other conceptual underpinnings of computer science. A critical part of building teacher capac- than just a narrow focus on coding, navigating particular syntax or tools. ECS was recently granted program status with UCOP so high schools can add it to the a-g course list without having to prepare a full course submission for review. The “g” math elective is aligned with state standards and with career technical education standards in the information and communication technologies sector. ECS can be the first course in a pathway followed by courses like CS Principles and AP Computer Science A, along with other tech-related courses. For more information about ECS, please contact Julie Flapan ([email protected]. edu), or visit www.exploringcs.org. 2. UC Davis C-STEM Integrated Courses. C-STEM (Computing, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is a UC approved educational preparation program for undergraduate admission to all UC campuses. C-STEM also has UC a-g program staSeptember/October 2015 35