highly qualified to teach computing.
In turn, that affects in-service and
pre-service professional development.
Will a school, district, or state education authority require a business or
CTE teaching credential? Can other
teachers (such as math, science, technology) teach computing courses? Do
you only provide the business and CTE
teachers computer science professional development and education, or
do you try to reach a broader range of
How do we certify that a teacher
knows how to teach computer science?
Most states offer no teacher certification in computing. Without a credentialing process, schools will not be able
to tell whether a teacher is qualified to
teach computer science. Without the
possibility of earning some kind of credential, teachers may be unwilling to
go through additional professional development. Current computing teachers may find new requirements for certification limiting their opportunity to
continue to teach computing courses.
Without certification, colleges are unlikely to create pre-service curricula
and students planning to teach are unlikely to demand them.
Why do students take computing?
Most high school computer science
(CS) classes in the U.S. are elective; so
few students take them—often only
white or Asian males. If you want more
students in computer science classes,
require computer science (which is
challenging to implement) or have
CS classes meet some requirement
that students care about. Some states
count CS classes as meeting mathematics or science or even world language requirements for high school
graduation. Georgia had a dramatic
rise in the number of students taking
the Advanced Placement CS exam after the AP CS course started counting
as a science credit toward high school
What are we trying to teach? States
set standards about desired learning
outcomes. Some states are creating
computer science standards, while
other states are including computer
science in existing standards (for example, in science). How will curricula
and assessments be aligned with new,
revised, or existing standards? Will
they be tested or otherwise required?
Reduce higher-education friction.
Public college and university systems
are also under state control to varying
degrees. Community and technical college computing programs tend to serve
more diverse communities. Easing the
community college to four-year college
transition can contribute to increasing
diversity and broadening access in college and university computer science
departments. Two-year college systems
and articulation mechanisms vary by
state. If you want to get more community college students to successfully
transfer to state universities, you solve
that problem at the state level.
Building a Community of
State CS Education Leaders
In 2012, two National Science Foundation Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) Alliances merged (CAITE
and “Georgia Computes!”) to create
the Expanding Computing Education
Pathways (ECEP) Alliance.a The authors
of this column are the leads on ECEP.
We aimed to use the lessons learned
in Massachusetts and Georgia and the
expertise of leaders in computing education to help other states improve and
broaden computing education.
ECEP began working with four
states: Massachusetts, Georgia, California, and South Carolina. We soon
realized we could not just “translate
the lessons learned” from one state to
another. States vary dramatically, for
example, in terms of how much control the state department of education
has versus individual school districts,
how teacher credentialing works,
a See http://ecepalliance.org
are our best
chance to broaden
and who decides whether a particular class “counts” toward high school
graduation requirements. States like
Georgia and South Carolina are more
centralized, meaning the state department of education defines classes and
high school graduation requirements.
States like Massachusetts and California distribute control down to local
districts. The process for creating new
requirements in Georgia is unlikely to
work in California.
In 2015, we added additional states
to ECEP so that the cohort now includes 11 states and Puerto Rico. We
host face-to-face and virtual meetings
where leaders of CS education reform
in these states talk to one another
about the issues they are facing in their
states. This community of state leaders
is the most important resource we have
to offer in ECEP.
The lessons learned from Massachusetts and Georgia are useful for
states joining ECEP, but so are the lessons from the other states. We have
been surprised at how much our state
leaders draw ideas from each other.
South Carolina leaders used a teacher
survey that was invented in Massachusetts. Utah draws inspiration from a
Texas teacher recruitment strategy.
What our state leaders find most useful about ECEP is access to other state
leaders who share similar goals, for
example, to broaden participation in
computing by changing education
pathways in their states.
A Model for State-based Efforts
Based on the ECEP experiences with
states making public policy changes
to improve K– 16 computing education, we have developed an initial set of
steps that we recommend to any state
planning an effort to broaden access
to computing education for K– 12 and
higher education students. We require
states to have taken the first three steps
in this process before they can join our
ECEP state cohort, but we also believe
it applies to any state whether or not
they hope to partner with ECEP.
Step 1: Identify a State Leader. A
state should have one or more leaders
who are willing to participate in the
ECEP cohort. The current ECEP state
leaders cover the spectrum of computing education stakeholders, including
high school teachers and administra-