Research Committee Survey Information

The Research Committee does just what the name implies – research surrounding computer science education in K-12 setting.  The research is often in conjunction with other organizations, such as Oracle that led to the recent CSTA – Oracle Academy 2014 High School CS Survey.  Beside partnering with corporations, CSTA also conducts larger research projects, such as the Bugs in the System: Computer Science Teacher Certification in the US.  These types of research are important to understanding what is happening in the landscape of computer science education and identify issues our CS educators face .

Along with larger research projects we also do our own CSTA Membership Survey (results of past years here) and CSTA National Secondary Computer Science Survey (results of past years here).  These two surveys alternate years to allow CSTA to collect complimentary data and inform our work.

  • The membership survey gives us data on membership demographics, how they are connected to CS education, and CSTA resources they find useful in their work.  This gives us data to improve CSTA’s support and direction for the membership at large.
  • The CSTA National Secondary CS Survey gives us data on what is being taught at the high school level, the types of certification teachers hold, demographics of the students we reach, as well as allowing us to see the demographic reach of CS education.  The survey data allows us to tailor our professional development resources to meet the curricular needs of the CSTA members and apply for grants and funding based on the student population we are reaching.

This years 2015 CSTA National Secondary Computer Science Survey was sent out in an e-blast yesterday (4/21) to the US Secondary membership. We would greatly appreciate your time in completing the survey as the data is valuable in meeting your needs.  As an incentive, we have a drawing for five Amazon gift cards worth $100 for those that complete the survey.

Survey link: (Closes on May 5, 2015, at 11:59pm HST)

The Research Committee
Stephanie Hoepppner & Aman Yadav, CSTA Board and Research Committee Members

The CSTA Nominations and Elections Committee

By: Deborah Seehorn and Dave Reed

The primary purpose of the CSTA Nominations and Elections Committee is to oversee and maintain the nominations and elections process.

The primary functions of the committee are listed below.

  1. Conduct and oversee the Call for Nominations prior to each Board of Directors election.
  2. Actively recruit and bring forth qualified applicants to maintain diversity on the Board of Directors.
  3. Ensure that recruiting of applicants for open positions on the Board of Directors occurs prior to the close of nominations. If only one qualified nomination is received, the Nominations and Elections committee may seek additional candidates.
  4. Select two applicants from the pool of nominations for each open Board of Director position during an election period. These two applicants will then be presented to the general membership during the Board of Directors election process. If only one qualified nominee can been found, that nominee will be acclaimed.
  5. Work with staff to facilitate the sharing of candidate information with the members.
  6. Work with the Executive Director and CSTA staff to select and refine technologies for conducting fair and secure election. Election technologies shall be approved by the Board of Directors.
  7. Ensure that all elections are carried out in accordance with the current Bylaws and Board of Directors Policies and Procedures.
  8. Make recommendations to the Board of Directors for qualified candidates to fill vacated positions on the Board of Directors.
  9. Provide recommendations to the Board for the revision of the current election process and eligibility requirements of candidates.
  10. Stagger the elections for the positions of 9-12 Teacher Representative and At-Large Representative so that only one from each is position is elected each year. If more than one position from either of these representative categories will become vacant in the following year, the Board may vote to extend the term of one of the current representatives for a period of one year. The Chair will determine which of the two current representatives will be asked to extend their term of service

For the 2015 CSTA Board Election, the Call for Nominations was issued in November 2014. Nominations closed on February 1, 2015. CSTA received an ample number of well-qualified nominations for each of the three open board positions. Each member of the Nominations and Elections Committee reviews the qualifications of the nominees and rates them based on an objective rubric.  These ratings are then used to select the top two nominees for each board position. Those two nominees become the two candidates for each board position. The candidate qualifications are then posted on the CSTA website. This year candidates also submitted blog posts to the CSTA Advocate blog

The Election Buddy website was set up for the 2015 Election, and the election began on April 2, 2015. The election will conclude on May 4, 2015. The newly elected board members will be notified and then announced to the CSTA membership shortly thereafter. The new board members will participate in the CSTA Board Meeting in Grapevine, Texas in July.

The current members of the CSTA Curriculum Committee are:

Dave Reed, Creighton University,

Tammy Pirmann, School District of Springfield Township, PA,

Karen Lang, Former Board Member,

Deborah Seehorn, NC Department of Public Instruction,

Lissa Clayborn, Acting CSTA Executive Director,

We welcome your comments and suggestions on how the CSTA Nominations and Elections Committee can better meet the needs of our CSTA members.


Deborah Seehorn
CSTA Nominations and Elections Committee Chair and Board Chair

Dave Reed
CSTA Nominations and Elections Committee and Board Chair-Elect

The Membership Committee

The Membership Committee of the CSTA is responsible for cultivating membership.  It seems like a straightforward enough job, but we set our goals pretty high.  The CSTA is valuable precisely because of its member base.  Being a member of the CSTA gives you access to thousands of members around the world with whom you can share ideas, learn, and grow as a Computer Science teacher.  We’re always trying to increase membership so that everyone has a great experience and lots of smart teachers to connect with.  In addition to individual members, we also have institutional members: schools, universities, and companies who support the mission of the CSTA.  These members provide additional resources for our members and often sponsor events and activities that are advertised to our membership.

How many members are there?  Altogether, we have almost 20,000 members, both individual and institutional.  These members represent all 50 states and over 140 countries.  That’s a powerful group of advocates!

Membership levels by country:


Membership levels by state:


Why join CSTA? I recently represented the CSTA at the Celebration of Teaching and Learning Conference and was asked that quite a bit.  Being a member of the CSTA means being a part of a larger community of Computer Science Teachers, Educators, and Advocates. You get access to curriculum resources, reports and information about Computer Science education.  Many CS teachers are the only ones at their school, so having a community to connect with makes you feel less alone, and being a member means you, too, can contribute to the direction of Computer Science Education.  There’s a lot of work to be done, and every voice needs to be heard, so add yours now! Find out more at the CSTA membership page.


CSTA Funding Committee

Another of CSTA’s standing committees is the Funding Committee. Our charter is to support the initiatives of the CSTA, and help ensure the sustainability of our organization.

We keep an eye out for federal and other grant opportunities, and then we bring together groups of CSTA people and others to hash out the ideas and ultimately submit proposals.

A lot of the practical fund-raising work is also carried out in a continuous process by Lissa Clayborn, our acting executive director.

The Funding Committee is led by Fred Martin (chair) and Dave Reed (co-chair).

If you know of a grant opportunity that’s a fit for the CSTA, please let us know!

Fred Martin
University Representative

Governance Committee

Governance Committee

The Governance Committee reviews how the board is functioning and when necessary recommends to the board revisions to the Policy and Procedure Manual as well as the By-Laws. Both documents are posted on the CSTA website. These changes could include revisions of the roles and responsibilities of the board members, board committees, conflict of interest procedures, and procedures for nomination, selection and removal of board members. The Governance Committee is charged with ensuring the board is governing the organization effectively and efficiently.

Currently, the Governance Committee is recommending to the board members a Conflict of Interest Policy for the CSTA Board members, one for CSALT members and another for Chapter Leadership. It will be put to a vote at the next board meeting. Recently, the Governance Committee has recommended a Code of Conduct for attendees at CSTA Conferences to assure our members a safe and welcoming conference experience.

This committee is comprised of two members: Myra Deister, chair and one member, Alfred Thompson.

Myra Deister, Governance Committee Chair and At-Large Representative

Teaching Writing is just like Teaching Computer Science

We all know that writing is an important skill to develop in every classroom—including the computer science (CS) classroom. If our students can’t communicate their ideas, they don’t have a chance succeeding in or out of our classrooms.

And while as CS teachers we know the importance of teaching writing, we sometimes freeze with that deer-in-the-headlights look when thinking about actually TEACHING communication skills. Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re a natural! If you can teach computer programming, you can kids to write.

Thank you, Terry Freedman, for the elaboration of these ideas in the Tech & Learning article “How learning to code might improve writing skills” (

Compare the strategies you use to teach CS to those required in writing.

  1. Making a plan for writing is similar to creating a flow chart or storyboard.
  2. Writing a clear precise sentence is like an explicit computer instruction.
  3. Good grammar is just syntax in another language.
  4. Well-ordered text is not much different than code that follows the algorithm.
  5. Too many words can confuse the reader just like too many statements create spaghetti code.
  6. Creative writing and programs require a mastery of vocabulary and commands.

See? I told you that you were a natural. Teach writing the way you teach programming and you’ll be fine.

CSTA Equity Committee

The CSTA Board’s Equity Committee is, no surprise, concerned with issues around equity of opportunity, support and encouragement for all students in computer science education and careers. We are especially concerned with supporting women and underserved minorities. Diversity is critically important in society and computer science is no exception.

For the past several years a major effort of the Equity committee has been “We are the Faces of Computing” competitions ( ). The purpose of these competitions is twofold. First is to get students thinking about diversity in computing and its importance. Secondly, and even more importantly, we want students to create artifacts that can be used to help more students see themselves in the field of computing. A collection of winning posters from several years is available at the Faces of Computing web page. For 2014 the Equity committee ran a competition to create videos. The winners were announced during CS Education Week and can be found at the CSTA web site. (

Throughout the year, the Equity committee works to make sure that all CSTA programs help to support the CSTA goals of equal opportunity and broadening the participation in computing to all segments of the population.

These tasks are of course everyone’s job but having specific members of the board with a particular focus on Equity is an important responsibility that helps the Association keep sight of the goal.

Alfred Thompson, Equity Committee Chair and At-large member, CSTA Board

The CSTA Curriculum Committee

The primary purpose of the CSTA Curriculum Committee is to provide K-12 computer science teachers with access to high quality, standards-based curriculum resources. During the past year, the committee has been busy vetting crosswalks to the CSTA K-12 CS Standards that have been submitted by curriculum providers. The crosswalks that have been vetted by the committee include those submitted by Linux, Oracle, Google, Tech Corps, and Mobile Makers iOS. Vetted crosswalks to the standards are posted on the CSTA website upon approval by the curriculum provider.

A major publication for the CSTA Curriculum Committee is the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards, released in 2011 and available at the above webpage. The purpose of the standards was to delineate a core set of learning standards designed to provide the foundation for a complete computer science curriculum and its implementation at the K–12 level. The standards allow the Curriculum Committee to support our CSTA members by informing them of quality standards-based curriculum resources. To better support and assist CS educators, the CSTA K-12 Standards have been crosswalked to these national standards: Common Core State Standards, Common Core Mathematical Practice Standards, STEM Career Cluster Topics, and the Partnership for the 21st Century Essential Skills Standards. The CSTA K-12 CS Standards are also available on the CSTA website en Español.

The current members of the CSTA Curriculum Committee are:

Laura Blankenship, The Baldwin School,

Debbie Carter, CSTA Board Member Emeritus,

Fred Martin, University of Massachusetts, Lowell,

Tammy Pirmann, School District of Springfield Township, PA,

Deborah Seehorn, NC Department of Public Instruction,

Lissa Clayborn, Acting CSTA Executive Director,

Frequently the Curriculum Committee collaborates with other CSTA committees on projects of interest to both committees. Occasionally, the committee solicits assistance from experts with a particular area of computing curriculum expertise. We welcome your comments and suggestions on ways the CSTA Curriculum Committee can better meet the needs of our CSTA members.

Deborah Seehorn, CSTA Curriculum Committee Chair

Hello from the CSTA Communications Committee!

The primary goal of the CSTA Communications Committee is to ensure that members learn about the many, many opportunities, resources, news, and initiatives from CSTA.

We’ve been up to quite a bit lately:

  • Listserv moderators have been selected and are busy making sure you get the news promptly. If you are not familiar with the listserv, it is a place to ask questions about teaching CS, make connections, and support each other in our community. On the flip side, it is not for selling or pushing products or something that monetarily benefits you. Recommendations are fine if someone is asking “what book do you use,” “do you get this error using this….,” etc.  The listserv is about building a professional group of educators that can be resources for each other.  Each message to the listserv is checked and approved by a moderator before being distributed. So please join us and lend your expertise or ask your questions!  Sign up for the Listserv.
  • Various CSTA committees will be reporting on the Advocate blog to keep you in touch with plans and projects. Periodically, each committee will submit a blog article about committee activities, how the committee works for CSTA’s goals, and hopefully, answer any questions you may have. Check out all of the blog articles for great CS educator content.  So, is it recursion if we link to the blog here while you are already reading the Advocate blog?….hmmm…. :)
  • The CSTA Voice newsletter is another communication tool for keeping up with CSTA and CS education content selected especially for our members. We’re always on the look-out to identify interesting content and authors for the Voice. Let us know what you would like to learn about. Or better yet, offer to share your knowledge and skills by writing an article for the Voice. We’d love to hear about what you’re doing in your classroom, the news from your CSTA Chapter, or other content of interest to CS educators. Download past CSTA Voice newsletters
  • Our efforts to keep you in the know about CSTA are continuous. You are an important part of this process. To recommend an article for The Voice, contribute an Advocate blog post, or to provide general feedback, please contact us!

If you are reading this blog but still haven’t joined CSTA, what are you waiting for? Sign up today for an Individual membership or Institutional membership.

All of the links provided above can be found on the main page of CSTA.  Please visit to view all the other resources and information available to you.

The Communications Committee

Stephanie Hoeppner, Pat Phillips, Myra Deister, Sheena Vaidyanathan

CSTA Computational Thinking (CT) Task Force

Why was the Computational Thinking (CT) Task Force formed?

One of the primary purposes of the CSTA is to support K-12 CS educators. Thus, it’s important that the CSTA be aware of current developments in computer science education, including Computational Thinking (CT), so we can take advantage of new opportunities and new partnerships. The CT Task Force was formed to advise the organization about how to connect with and respond to new Computational Thinking initiatives.

Who are the members of the CT Task Force?

In July 2014, the CT Task Force re-assembled with these members:

Irene Lee, Chair (Santa Fe Institute, Project GUTS)
Fred Martin, Co-Chair (University of Massachusetts Lowell)
J. Philip East (University of Northern Iowa)
Diana Franklin (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Shuchi Grover (Stanford University)
Roxana Hadad (Northeastern Illinois University)
Joe Kmoch (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Michelle Lagos (American School of Tegucigalpa)
Eric Snow (SRI International)

What does the CT Task Force do?

This year, we are focusing on CT in K-8 teaching and learning. This is a pressing need, and we would like to understand the scope of what is being called “computational thinking” in K-8: how it is being defined, what tools and curricula are being used to teach computational thinking, and how it is being assessed. Task Force members also participate on related efforts, such as developing proposals for providing professional development in CT through the CSTA.

How does the CT Task Force serve the CSTA membership?

We serve the membership by:

1) Writing, publishing and disseminating papers on CT

2) Coordinating efforts to inform K-8 educators about CT

3) Making presentations on CT at educational conferences

4) Updating the CT webpage on the CSTA website

We welcome suggestions and contributions from the CSTA membership on ways the CT Task Force can better serve you.