Programmed for Success: UTeach and the Computer Science for All initative
In his January 31 weekly address, President Obama announced his Computer Science (CS) for All initiative, which would allocate $4 billion in funding for states, including $100 million for districts for CS education and more than $135 million for the support and training of CS teachers.
Citing rapid shifts in the economy and increasing demand for basic computational skills in an educated work force, Obama issued a call to action for state and local leaders, as well as educators, philanthropists, and media and technology professionals to engage in this initiative. The UTeach Institute is among a diverse network of partners working to support the President’s CS initiative.
In Texas, only 1 percent of high school students took a CS course in the 2013–2014 academic year, and fewer than 15 percent of high schools offered coursework in the discipline at all. The University of Texas at Austin is leading the charge in CS education in Texas through various initiatives aimed at increasing all kids’ access to CS education.
For example, the UTeach Institute has developed a national-level AP Computer Science Principles course, Thriving in Our Digital World: AP, designed to prepare students for the new AP Computer Science Principles exam being administered by the College Board for the first time in Spring 2017. With an eye toward engaging young women and other groups that historically have been underrepresented in high-tech fields, the course offers a broad introduction to the field of computer science and develops students’ computational thinking skills using a student-centered, project-based instructional approach.
“The Computer Science Principles framework was developed with the explicit intention of broadening participation among girls and others historically underrepresented in the field,” says Dr. Alicia Beth, who leads the UTeach Institute’s computer science initiatives. “The Thriving: AP course is designed to explicitly address issues of equity.”
Teachers who are interested in participating in President Obama’s initiative in a meaningful way can now apply for Summer 2016 professional learning workshops that will prepare them to teach Thriving in Our Digital World: AP in their classrooms during the 2016–2017 school year. For more information, contact UTeach Computer Science at info [at] uteachcs.org.