Leeroy Jenkins!

Now that Ready Player One is exiting theaters and transitioning to home video, I figured I would start with a quote from Armada, another book written by Ernest Cline.

“I had been hoping and waiting for some mind-blowingly fantastic, world-altering event to finally shatter the endless monotony of my public education.”

While this quote is from a fictional story, the first time I read it, I paused and took time to read it again. Though this was in the first chapter of the book, I continued thinking about it in the context of today’s students and the work we have in front of us. In Armada, the protagonist, Zachary Lightman, thought these words to himself when he saw something truly remarkable happening outside of his classroom window. While the details of everyday life are not as dramatic as those in the book, this scenario is not fictional.

Millions of children are finishing their last few days of school this week, and they are feeling like a prisoner about to be paroled. Why is this the case? Well my opinion is that for the past 40 or so years, we have established a system that in many ways labels over 1/3rd of our kids as “losers.” No, I am not talking about kids that scored at a certain level on an assessment or kids that didn’t make football, band, cheerleading… I am talking about the roughly 35% of our high-school graduates that do not go to college. Our nation, and states, have established public school systems that are trying to be assembly lines to produce college applicants; notice that I didn’t say college graduates. Approximately 40% of those that enter college do not graduate. When this taken into consideration, we are establishing a system that is set up to work efficiently for 39% of our population; what about the other 61%? Well many of them have thoughts, on a daily basis, like Zach, or cry out like Job in his final defense. That 61% figuratively, and sometimes literally, cry out to their teachers, principals, superintendents, parents, and state leaders, “why do you not answer me? You see me and know my current and future plight, but you continue to make decisions that support the others and leave me in the dark!”

Now that the drama is out of the way, I will get to the point. Computer science (CS) is not the panacea we all wish it was, but it is a great start for this 61%. Not only will CS be a direct benefit for many of them, it is a catalyst for changes that can positively affect all students. In my state, I have long disliked that we set state-level pre-requisites, based on seat time, on our high-school mathematics courses. When Arkansas adopted CS standards and courses, I made sure that we did not set state level prerequisites on our high-school courses; it should be up to the local teacher and school to determine what level course the student is ready for. This policy has been a phenomenal success! Students are actually enrolling in courses that are more attuned to their skill level, abilities, and desires. The best part is, our state leadership is now having discussions if this is something we should replicate in other subject areas, including mathematics.

Computer science is the bipartisan wave we can all ride to change the culture of our educational systems. I challenge everyone of you regardless of your position, to use the computer science movement in a way that is beneficial to our students, by demonstrating that our educational system, your district, your school, or your class can be nimble and reflective of student and societal needs. If we all will rise to this challenge, the community can respond to future generations with “you’re welcome.”


Anthony Owens, State Department Representative

Use the SCRIPT to Develop Your District’s Own #CSforAll Plans

Individual teacher and school champions have enabled participation in K-12 computer science education to soar to new highs in recent years. However, true systemic change will occur when school districts across the nation create their own #CSforALL goals and implementation strategies. There is a need for districts across the nation to develop comprehensive and equity-minded plans to ensure that all students across all schools can access and achieve in computer science.

Creating these plans can be daunting, especially at early stages of implementation and when there are important competing priorities. It can be tempting to simply replicate plans that other districts have adopted, yet contexts may vary greatly from one district to another, making a single correct answer difficult. Districts should leverage local strengths and consider their unique contexts when developing their plans.

The CSforALL Consortium, a key partner of the CSTA, recently developed a tool to help with this challenge. The new tool is called the SCRIPT: School CSforALL Resource and Implementation Planning Tool. The SCRIPT engages school districts in reflection, review of examples, and goal setting related to six areas: (1) Leadership, (2) Technology Infrastructure, (3) Teacher Capacity, (4) Curriculum and Materials, Selection and Refinement, (5) Partners, and (6) Community.

The SCRIPT is still under development; however CSforALL has released rubrics for Leadership, Teacher Capacity, and Curriculum & Materials, Selection and Refinement. Recently, I helped facilitate a breakout session at a SCRIPT workshop held at the CSforALL Summit in St. Louis. Based on this experience, I believe the SCRIPT is useful for districts that are just getting started, as well as those that have already implemented their comprehensive plans, as there are many distinct elements and a wide continuum of success. The tools promote excellent reflection and conversation and help guide teams towards meaningful next steps.

Here is a suggestion for how to use the SCRIPT:

  1. Convene a leadership team from your local district to develop or update plans to support #CSforALL. Include teachers, principals, curriculum leaders, and district administration; where possible, include representatives from both early-adopting schools and schools that have yet to begin to implement.
  2. Together, focus on each of the six SCRIPT categories one at a time. Use the rubric to reflect on the current status, identify priority areas, and set goals. Consider setting three goals for each area of the rubric: one 3-month goal, one 6-month goal, and one long-term goal.
  3. Use the tools and examples in the SCRIPT, as well as other CSTA resources and CSforALL members, to help plan how you will meet these goals. Feel free to reach out to your local CSTA chapter to ask for advice and support.
  4. Reconvene periodically to monitor progress and update goals.

Creating meaningful and systemic change certainly does not come easily. Accordingly, you won’t find a list of answers within the SCRIPT. However, you will find many thought-provoking questions and topics for conversation. Use these to consider the big picture and develop plans for rigorous, inclusive, and sustainable K-12 computer science education in your local school district.

SCRIPT Cover

Bryan Twarek
School District Representative