What does CSforAll mean for teacher preparation programs?

In a CSTA Voice article last year, I argued that a goal of CSforAll students means we also need to have CSforAll teachers. There are many professional development efforts underway that target existing teachers such as those supported by the National Science Foundation for courses like Exploring Computer Science and Computer Science Principles and for curricula like Bootstrap, Project GUTS, and Everyday Computing. However, these are not long-term sustainable models. In addition to in-service programs, computer science needs to be integrated as a part of pre-service, or teacher preparation, programs.

Change is Coming

Many states are adopting student standards and teacher credentialing in computer science. In 2017, the Iowa Department of Education established a working group to create computer science standards, Ohio required the state board to adopt K12 CS standards, and Tennessee created an endorsement in CS. These are among many legislative efforts (described at code.org/promote) that have an impact on teacher preparation programs.

Because the United States has a distributed control model of education, this means that teacher preparation programs are driven by state requirements for licensure. When states adopt new standards and licensure requirements, teacher preparation programs need to be ready to teach those new standards and prepare students for licensure.

Models for Integrating CS

So, how can teacher preparation programs meet the growing demand for K12 CS teachers? Some schools have included a module on computational thinking in existing tech integration courses while others are integrating CS across the curriculum. Some schools target secondary STEM education majors while others want all education majors to have some experience. Each school will need to grapple with their state context and their own program structures to determine a model that will work. Ideally, all pre-service teachers will have a basic understanding of computer science as a discipline, its impact on our society, and key equity issues that impact it.

Last spring, a group of leading experts in computer science education gathered for the Finding a Home for Computing Education in Schools of Education Strategy Workshop. The report synthesized the conversations and existing efforts and will suggest frameworks and models for integrating CS in the field of education at the post-secondary level. Videos from the workshop are available now and the report will be released April 12, 2018, on computingteacher.org.

A Role for Classroom Teachers

Integrating CS in teacher preparation programs will be a massive effort that requires many people from a variety of areas to make it successful. Education faculty may not have had much experience in computer science and, just like our students, may feel quite intimidated by the subject. The CSTA community is a great resource for them!

If you’re a current classroom teacher, you could:

  1. Host students for field experiences that include a CS component
  2. Connect with your local college education programs to help them develop programs to meet new licensure and certification requirements
  3. Share your experiences with students considering a career in CS teaching through guest lectures or mentoring programs
  4. Teach college courses related to CS education

Jennifer Rosato

Teacher Education Representative