About Art Lopez

I am a bilingual teacher and have been teaching for 31 years, 28 of them at Sweetwater High School in National City, CA; for the past nine years, I have been teaching the AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) course. I am the district curriculum specialist (TOSA) for Computer Science for the Sweetwater Union High School District. I was elected to serve as the High School Representative for the Board of Directors of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and am the president of the CSTA-San Diego Chapter. I was selected to serve as a member of the California Computer Science Standards Advisory Committee to develop the Computer Science Standards for grades K -12 for the state of California. I am designated a “master-teacher and trainer” for UC-San Diego and the San Diego Super Computer Center for the AP CSP course (past nine years) and continue creating, developing, and conducting professional development/training for both high and middle school teachers to teach CS courses in the county of San Diego. I teach a UC-Irvine course for teachers and undergrads for the AP CSP course. I am a College Board AP Summer Institute instructor for the AP Computer Science Principles course and a table leader for the reading of the College Board's AP CSP Explore and Create Performance Tasks. I was one of the College Board’s 50 pilot instructors for the AP CSP course and a member of the AP CSP Instructional Design Committee. I was one of the curriculum writers for the AP CSP course and wrote one of four Course Planning and Pacing Guides for this course as well as developing the lesson plans. I was selected as one of the top 100 Computer Science Educators in the USA by the Obama Administration (2014), worked with the Obama Administration and the National Science Foundation on starting the Computer Science for All Initiative in 2017.

Great News: CSTA, UC-San Diego’s CREATE, EDS, CRLP and SanDERA Awarded EIR Grant for “CS for English Learners”!

I have some very exciting news from CSTA to share-out with all of you! Recently, Jake Baskin, our Executive Director for CSTA, announced on the Voice that CSTA, in partnership with the California Reading and Literature Project (CRLP), UC-San Diego’s Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment, & Teaching Excellence (CREATE), Education Studies Department (EDS), and the San Diego Education Research Alliance (SanDERA housed in the Economics Department), were awarded a $3 million dollar grant to address the equity gap for English Learners (ELs) in taking AP CS Principles courses.

For the past 30 years, I have worked at Sweetwater High School and for the Sweetwater Union High School District in National City and Chula Vista, CA. The high school and district I work for have large, significant populations of both ELs and reclassified ELs, and, from my personal perspective, I have observed the lack of educational opportunities for EL students to take rigorous and engaging academic courses such as Advanced Placement (AP) courses including AP Computer Science Principles (AP-CSP).

Some of the main reasons I was drawn into teaching high school AP (and non-AP) computer science courses were to provide equity access and to broaden participation of underserved and underrepresented groups in CS, which include women and students of color; but as the grant proposal argued successfully, the “opportunity gap in CS for ELs are even more profound.” The number of ELs taking AP courses are very low (7%) and ELs enrolled in AP CSP are significantly lower; for example, only 5% of students enrolled in AP CSP courses across the state of New Mexico are identified ELs and the numbers are similar for the region of San Diego County in Southern California and the state of Arizona.

I have met and taught many EL and reclassified EL children throughout my teaching career (I am a credentialed bilingual teacher). I specifically target and recruit EL students to take the AP CSP course in my high school and throughout the Sweetwater Union High School District. EL students can and are successful if EL pedagogy and strategies are embedded and implemented in the classroom. EL students can and will make significant contributions to our society, nationally and globally, in the field of CS and will help our society solve critical problems if given the opportunity to become part of the CS community. This work begins by recruiting and supporting EL students to take and successfully complete AP CSP as well as other CS courses.

Recognizing that current and former EL students are a profoundly underrepresented and underserved subgroup in Computer Science, CSTA, CRLP, CREATE, EDS, and SanDERA formed a partnership for this grant proposal and were awarded $3 million dollars to address this gap. With these resources, they aim to provide supports for schools and teachers to increase the opportunity for EL equity access and, thus, increase the number of ELs that are taking the AP CS Principles (AP CSP) course specifically

Although there are significant institutional barriers for ELs to have the opportunities to take and engage courses with rigorous academic content, such as having their schedules pre-determined with ELD courses, entering and exiting the ELD program by being reclassified, “research demonstrates that ELs fare better linguistically and academically” when taking rigorous courses such as the AP CSP course.

Additional significant barriers that exist in this opportunity gap for ELs to take AP CS Principles is the lack of supportive teacher professional development for those teaching ELs. Also absent is adequate CS curriculum that has EL pedagogy integrated and embedded within it. CSTA, CRLP, CREATE, EDS, and SanDERA will work in partnership to design and develop PD, training, and CS curriculum that has integrated and embedded in its foundation and core EL pedagogy and strategies, and to evaluate the program’s impact on teachers and students.

This PD, training, and CS curriculum will be targeted for the aforementioned three states: San Diego County in Southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Offered for the first time this summer 2020, the week-long PD, following-up training and EL-AP CSP adapted curriculum will launch in the three aforementioned communities/regions. Later, all resources will be made available to CSTA chapters across the states, which will help form Professional Learning Communities that will use the training and EL-AP CSP resources for the benefit of our EL children.

I feel that it is very important to mention that CSTA, specifically Executive Director Jake Baskin and the CSTA team, in partnership with my colleagues and good friends whom I have worked with over the past several years with AP CSP and Computer Science Education space: Associate Director Susan Yonezawa of UC-San Diego’s CREATE; Education Studies professors Megan Hopkins and Beth Simon, Economics Professor Julian Betts, who is also the Director of SanDERA and, and the team from the CRLP led by Executive Director Debbie Costa-Hernandez, has formed a partnership with our local CSTA chapter and several in Arizona and New Mexico toto address the gaps in equity, gender, and diversity in CS through the work proposed in this grant.

I am truly excited to work with all of these people and organizations to attempt to address and decrease the equity gap and increase the number of EL students that are taking AP CSP, and to share the training and resources developed through this grant with our CSTA chapters and you, our members of CSTA!

Contributions to this post were made by Dr. Susan Yonezawa of UCSD CREATE, CSTA Executive Director Jake Baskin’s Post on the Voice, and the proposal itself; thank you all!

Art Lopez
9-12 Representative

Dr. Jan Cuny’s National Impact On Computer Science Education

by Art Lopez, 9 – 12 representative, CSTA Board of Directors

In writing this blog post, I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you, our members, the impact that Dr. Jan Cuny has had on our children, our communities, our country and on computer science education. I do not know if you know or heard about Dr. Jan Cuny; Jan is the Program Director for Computing Education in the in the Division of Computer and Network Systems for the National Science Foundation and, in my opinion, why computer science education has progressed so far forward for the past several years.

I first met Jan in Washington, D.C. in an event sponsored by the NSF and the White House Office and Science Technology in 2014 on recognizing the top 100 CS educators in the country. Jan informed us of the importance of providing computer science education in public education for ALL of our children, the broadening of participation of underserved and underrepresented groups in computer science (women, ethnically diverse, and learning differences), and equity access. Jan was incredibly inspiring, and I found an article she had written in ACM Inroads, {VOL 3, ISS 2, (June 2012)} named Transforming High School Computing: A Call to Action. Jan clearly outlined how important computer science education is for our children and our country’s future.

I was so inspired, yet, at the same time, unsure of what I could do to help contribute to advancing computer science education in my community and region; I did not know how to proceed. A few months later, I got to meet Jan again and was able to have a conversation with her. Jan said she believed in and encouraged me (and so many others!) to think of ideas on connecting with our higher education colleagues and organizations such as CSTA, Code.org, Exploring Computer Science, CS for All, CSforAll Teachers, and the Broadening Participation in Computing Alliance Program  (BPC-A) (just to name a few), to motivate young people and adults of the importance of computer science education in their lives; to broaden participation and provide equity access for computer science education that can change the lives of our children and communities for the better. Through Jan’s connections and the NSF funding of programs, I connected with my higher education colleagues at UC-San Diego to help push forward computer science education in my district, the Sweetwater Union High School District, the region of San Diego and Southern California.

I wish I had the space to share with all of you of the efforts and work Jan has done in having so many people and organizations to be a part of this endeavor and national effort, such as the creation of the AP Computer Science Principles course, Exploring Computer Science, providing training and resources for teachers and students, broadening participation, equity access, and so many other programs. Unfortunately, I can only offer a small view of what Jan has done.

Jan has, through the NSF, not only impacted and offered me opportunities to impact the education of our children, but impacted and created a community and a network of so many people and organizations that can collaborate and share their expertise: experts in computer science and educational practices with teachers who are experts in teaching. It was, and remains today, a great collaborative effort for the advancement of Computer Science Education for our children and country.

A few months ago, I got to see Jan speak at the College Board’s AP CS Principles reading and once again, was so inspiring with her talk to the readers. I had a side conversation with her and really enjoyed our discussion about how far we had come in providing computer science education courses to so many more students, schools and communities in the past few years; but we also talked about how much more we had to go to reach out to ALL students; this would NOT be happening without Jan’s commitment and vision.

Recently, Jan has decided to retire from the NSF; there was a great tribute to her at the CSforAll Summit, and many people whose lives she has touched over the years shared with her how important and central her vision and she has been for the advancement of computer science education, broadening participation and equity access.

I did not get a chance to be there and do the same; but, I can share with you, our members, the importance of Jan Cuny and what she has done (and continues to do!) for the advancement of Computer Science education for our kids, teachers, communities and country. Jan gave teachers, higher education colleagues and institutions, and organizations the opportunities to integrate and embed computer science education in public education, to impact and hopefully make the future of our children’s lives and communities better; and I think that is the best thing I can say about anyone: Jan, you made the world a better place; thank you Jan.

Art Lopez
9-12 Teacher Representative

CSTA: CS for ALL, Equity Access, and Bridging Gender and Diversity Gaps

My name is Art Lopez, and it is an honor and privilege to have been elected to serve on CSTA’s Board of Directors as one of the 9-12 representatives. I would like to share with you a story of my journey and involvement with CSTA and Computer Science Education.

I have been teaching for 31 years in a variety of educational settings (middle and high schools and higher ed). Nine years ago, one of my high school students approached and asked me, “Mr. Lopez, why does Torrey Pines and La Jolla High Schools have computer science courses and we do not?” I replied that the student had asked a very good question, and conducted my own research on how many computer science courses were taught in my district.

The Sweetwater Union High School District is located in the South County of San Diego, and includes the border between San Diego, CA and Tijuana, Mexico. It has 13 high schools, 11 middle schools, 42,000 students, 70% diverse, 50% English Language Learners, 50% free/reduced lunch program participants, and not a single school taught a computer science course.

I realized that the students of my district were not being given the same educational opportunities and exposure to computer science education as those students in more privileged communities; I wanted to change this and provide them the same equity access to CS education and the opportunities that the field presents. In our world today, computing and computational thinking is just as important for our children to learn as the “three R’s” (Dr. Beth Simon of UC-San Diego).

I did not have a CS background, but, fortunately, I encountered an opportunity and became involved with a CS education program at UC-San Diego and the San Diego Supercomputer Center through a NSF grant by Dr. Jan Cuny. I discovered that CS education was seriously lacking in public education, and that only one in 10 high schools across the country offered CS courses. Furthermore, a main goal of the NSF grant was to broaden participation of under-represented groups in computer science, both women and ethnically diverse students, and provide equity access of computer science courses at ALL high schools (Dr. Jan Cuny, NSF Program Officer).

Through this new network, I discovered CSTA and joined to connect and network with others on teaching CS. It was a small but passionate and dedicated group interested in providing CS education for all students in the region of San Diego.

Since 2011, I have been engaged and collaborating/working within the CS education community at national, regional, and local levels, including teaching and creating/modifying/providing curriculum and best teaching practices. I also embed strategies for diverse populations for computer science education teachers and undergrads interested in teaching CS.

I have been fortunate to work with so many great people within the CS community; I wanted to share out what I have learned with others in my local area, coordinating and providing CS educators professional development/networking opportunities, access to free curriculum/instructional materials, and connections with industry partners interested in CS education. I immediately thought of the CSTA-San Diego Chapter as being the focal point for accomplishing this goal.

Unfortunately, during 2016- 2017, our local CSTA chapter had met only once. I reached out to our university partners/colleagues and some members of CSTA-San Diego; we created a new board, and worked on the “re-booting” of our chapter. Since then, we have had six general meetings with an attendance of between 50 to 80 CS educators from K-12, higher ed and industry members; the goals of our chapter focuses on equity access, bridging gender and diversity gaps, and providing engaging, rigorous, and all-inclusive CS curriculum (Dr. Susan Yonezawa, UC-San Diego): CS for All.

Because of these efforts, my district this year will offer over 60+ CS courses: AP CSP at 12 and AP CS A at eight high schools, and seven middle school CS courses. CSTA’s role cannot be understated for our members and the children and adults we teach. I want all of you to know that I will do my best to be all-inclusive and be your voice, working and serving with our board of directors, staff and the members of our CSTA community in addressing the issues of equity access, bridging gender and diversity gaps, providing CS FOR ALL, as well as resources and professional development/networking opportunities for our members.

Art Lopez
9-12 Teacher Representative