socioeconomic status, and many other
dimensions. For example, in the U.S.
there are entire states where not a single
woman, African-American, or Latino
takes the CS Advanced Placement (AP)
exam each year. The Latino community,
which represents 26% of K– 12 students
in the U.S., has been underserved by CS
education largely due to access issues.
We see similar challenges emerging for
students in rural communities.
Limits to the Big IDEA, such as
those highlighted here around access,
become the basis for many forms of institutionalized inequity and can limit
access to economic prosperity at multi-generational levels. As one speaker put
it at the AI For Good Summit, the lack
of diversity and inclusion in CS leads
us to “solving mostly white male problems.” Over my two years at CSTA, I saw
firsthand how teachers are critical for
ensuring the Big IDEA becomes reality
for children and society.
Organizations like CSTA have it within their mission and influence to make
real change around the Big IDEA. Thanks
to support and contributions from
Google for Education, NCWIT, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, and many
volunteers, CSTA’s Big IDEA initiatives
reached more than 3. 5 million households over the past two years. In 2017,
the Big IDEA in CS Education received a
prestigious Silver Power of A Award recognizing CSTA and the contributions of
both K– 12 teachers and those who support them for “their extraordinary contributions and efforts to enrich lives, create
a more competitive workforce, drive innovation, and make a better world.”
The PD Pipeline
In 2016, thanks to a grant from the In-fosys Foundation USA, CSTA began
development of the Professional Development (PD) Pipeline. The project
emerged in response to a set of challenges from our members, which included:
˲ How do I know where to go to learn
CS from quality providers?
˲ How do I track all of my PD and
˲ How do I ensure all my PD contributes to certification or endorsement in
˲ How do I connect with other teachers who took the same PD or came from
the same background as me?
˲ How do I know what PD is the right
PD for me based on my current skill
level and interests?
˲ How do chapters track and communicate PD taken or needed most by
˲ How do I collect and share content and learning resources with other
teachers like me?
Working with Degreed, last summer
CSTA piloted an initial solution to these
challenges via the PD Pipeline. The solution includes several elements. It
begins with what will evolve into a developmental self-assessment to help
teachers assess their knowledge of CS.
That will be linked to developmental
pathways to provide teachers with a
roadmap to build their confidence and
competence in teaching CS. We will
provide digital badging and microcre-dentials to demonstrate teacher progress toward goals and outcomes. There
is capacity to provide communities of
practice and opportunities to share
resources linked to a professional development (PD) experience, a developmental pathway, or other factors. The
solution includes a digital portfolio,
enabling a teacher to track all her PD in
one place. Finally, nearly all these pieces link back to the K– 12 CS Standards
and Framework, or to a given state’s
standards for CS, so a teacher can track
progress against local requirements
for licensure or endorsement.
The PD Pipeline recognizes that K– 12
teachers of CS come from many different academic backgrounds and different exposure to CS. Our best estimate
is that 1 in 9 teachers of CS have had a
college-level course in CS, and fewer
than 7% of our membership identify
themselves as “CS teachers” first. Most
are teachers of another subject who also
teach CS. Thus, our 26,000 members
include teachers of math, science, career and technical education, English,
history, modern languages, art, music,
physical education, special education,
and many other domains.
We also learned that teachers came
into CS with different areas of interest.
We have teachers interested in robotics, cybersecurity, game design, artificial intelligence, data analytics, mobile
applications, and many other domains
of CS. We also recognized that some
teachers want to become CS teachers, while others just want to integrate
some CS in their classrooms.
The PD Pipeline is designed to provide a customized experience for an individual teacher with a goal to help her
achieve the level of competence and
confidence she desires or requires to be
a successful teacher of CS in K– 12. With
technology changing quickly, and most
CS teachers likely to come from the
ranks of existing teachers, the PD Pipeline is an effort to address the question:
How do we retrain the K– 12 educational workforce (teachers) so they can prepare their students for the future?
As we look at the future displacement
of jobs due to artificial intelligence,
many individuals across a range of occupations and industries will need to be retrained. The CSTA PD Pipeline initiative
is one approach to solving such a large-scale workforce development problem.
The Big IDEA and the PD Pipeline are
two examples of industry-changing initiatives under way at CSTA over the past
two years. There is certainly much more
that needs to be done in both these areas
and others. As with any small non-profit,
CSTA is dependent upon the support of
organizations and individuals to fulfill
its mission. While CSTA was founded by
ACM more than a decade ago as part of
its ongoing support to K– 12 education,
today more than ever, CSTA needs support from a broader range of stakeholders to successfully meet the challenges
and needs of both the K- 12 teacher community and the organizations and industries that depend on that community.
It was a distinct honor to serve as
CSTA’s executive director for the past
two years. By working collaboratively
with many stakeholders, we made substantive progress on many fronts as
we began the transition of CSTA from
a “mom and pop” organization into a
world-class professional association.
Having accomplished many of the initial strategic goals set in 2015, it is now
time for the next executive director to
continue to build upon the transitional
process that we began. I look forward
to watching CSTA’s future success and
encourage readers to support CSTA as
the voice for K– 12 teachers of CS.
Mark R. Nelson was executive director of the Computer
Science Teachers Association from June 2015 through
© 2018 ACM 0001-0782/18/1 $15.00