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,, 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

DRAFT 2016 CSTA K-12 CS Standards: We Need Your Feedback—Again!

Much excitement and activity continues to take place in the K-12 Computer Science Education space. The K-12 Computer Science Framework and the Computer Science for All initiative started by the White House both continue to evolve. Many states and school systems are working to implement computer science into their curriculum. And, the CSTA K-12 CS Standards Revision Task force continues to refine the draft 2016 CSTA K-12 CS Standards.

Thanks to all of you who took time to provide us feedback on the draft 2016 CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards during the first review period. We received many great recommendations and comments about the standards. The CSTA K-12 CS Standards Revision Task Force members met in person on March 5 and 6 to read and analyze the feedback that we received. They have been diligently working to revise the first draft of the 2016 CSTA K-12 CS Standards to reflect the feedback. The second DRAFT of the 2016 CSTA K-12 CS Standards is now ready for public review and feedback. We need your assistance once again!

Please take some time to review the revised 2016 draft standards and complete the 2016 CSTA K-12 CS Standards Feedback Form. This will provide the CSTA Standards Revision Task Force members with additional constructive feedback that will assist us as we seek to refine the standards and make them most useful for K-12 educators. You will have the opportunity to give us detailed feedback on individual standards in each of the grade levels (Level 1, Grades K-5; Level 2, Grades 6-8; Level 3A, Grades 9-10 (for all students); Level 3B Grades 11-12 (enhanced standards for students who wish to further study CS). You will also be able to provide feedback on all the standards for a grade level within a concept area.

Feedback for this second review period will be accepted from April 6 through April 20, 2016. The task force members will analyze this feedback and further refine the standards as needed. CSTA is committed to an iterative process that allows multiple drafts and revisions before publication. Our goal is to release the interim 2016 standards at the 2016 CSTA Annual Conference.

We want your feedback. We need your assistance. Please thoughtfully complete the CSTA K-12 CS Standards Revision Feedback Form. This second round of feedback on the standards will be accepted until April 20, 2016.

Thank you for your time, expertise, and enthusiasm in supporting K-12 CS education.

Deborah Seehorn, CSTA Board of Directors Past Chair & CSTA K-12 CS Standards Revision Task Force Co-Chair

Tammy Pirmann, CSTA Board of Directors District Representative & CSTA K-12 CS Standards Revision Task Force Co-Chair

Website Links

Computer Science for All

K-12 CS Framework

2016 CSTA K-12 CS Standards Revision Task Force

CSTA K-12 CS Standards Revision Process

2016 CSTA K-12 CS Standards Feedback Form

2016 CSTA Annual Conference




2016: The Year of CS Education

A Prediction Comes True…

When asked for a New Year’s prediction a few weeks ago, I responded that 2016 would be the Year of Computer Science Education.  I did not anticipate just how accurate that prediction would turn out to be just 30 days later.  And it appears that we are just getting started, thanks to the incredible support and commitment of the White House and this Administration on behalf of CS education and CS teachers.

CS education is about students.  On January 12, as he began to speak to national priorities, President Barack Obama led with CS Education.  He said that, “In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by … offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one.”  As Executive Director for one of the first CS teacher member organizations, it was an exciting moment to hear the President lead off with a statement so aligned to our members’ profession.

CS education is about access.  On January 20, the White House announced the Champions of Change for Computer Science Education. I was thrilled to see recipients like Jane Margolis whose book, Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race and Computing, motivated me to pursue this position several months ago.  The recipients of the honor included a diverse and deserving collection of individuals working to improve access to computer science education.

CS education is about collaboration.  Then today, January 30, I was again both excited and awed, as the White House announced the Computer Science for All initiative (#CSForAll)—the President’s plan to give all students across the country the chance to learn computer science in school.  It is a plan with aggressive goals, bipartisan support, and multifaceted commitments from an amazing array of participants spanning federal and state agencies, corporations, non-profit organizations and academic institutions, school districts, and teachers.

CS education is about teachers.  It is clear that many more exciting announcements are to come.  On behalf of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and the teachers it represents, I thank the Administration for its “above and beyond support” for CS education and recognizing that providing access to quality CS education to all students requires developing and supporting CS teachers.  I am also appreciative to the Administration for creating mechanisms to enable CSTA to actively participate and engage in the events leading up to today’s announcement.   CSTA is excited to be involved and contributing to this collaborative effort.

…And CS Education is Just Getting Started.

CSTA recently developed a new 10-year vision, supported by the first of three strategic plans.  The themes of students, access, collaboration, and teachers underpin that framework.  For the next three years our primary efforts will focus on teacher professional development, programs related to our big IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access), and maturing our association practices.  These three priorities are supported by a set of five strategic levers and a range of specific measures and activities.

As part of CSTA’s commitment to #CSForALL, we will pursue and implement a new professional development (PD) model for CS Teachers that includes:

  • A developmental assessment with personalized roadmap to help teachers focus PD on skill development needs and programs that could address those needs.
  • Hybrid (online + in person) PD experiences to increase access to PD for teachers.
  • A digital portfolio or digital badging model to enable competency-based micro-credentialing.  This provides a means for teachers to demonstrate CS skills and track their progress toward a master-CS teacher status.

We are on track to pilot some of the above elements as early as this spring.

This year CSTA will establish a Diversity Educational Leadership Program (DELP).  DELP will provide PD to cohorts of teacher-leaders coming from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds in CS.  The goals of DELP are to improve access to leadership and development opportunities for underrepresented teacher segments, support a growing network of effective teacher-leaders and CS advocates in their classrooms and communities, and increase the visible pool of diverse candidates for leadership positions in CSTA and other K-12 CS organizations.

CSTA is also stepping up its own capabilities, such as going live with the “alpha” version of our new member management system this past week.  In addition to a new website that is mobile-friendly, and easier to navigate and update, we will have tools to enable more members to engage and volunteer in activities of the association.  There will be new tools to support chapters.  New tools to support advocacy or outreach among segments of members. There will be new ways for members to communicate with each other and new resources to help make #CSForAll a reality.

Later this spring CSTA will unveil new branding, as we evolve into – the member organization for K-12 computer science teachers. With 22,000 members across 130 countries, with 62 local member chapters, and as founding partners of other CS educational organizations, like, NCWIT, and TeachCS, we will continue to seek out and engage in opportunities to collaborate that include CS teachers and further enable access to quality computer science education for all students.

Getting Engaged in the Future of K-12 CS Education

These and many of our other planned initiatives, such as a series of PSAs and content to promote awareness and understanding of what CS is, link back to the themes and priorities identified by the White House as part of #CSForAll:  Students, Access, Collaboration, and Teachers. Getting there will require innovation, entrepreneurship, collaboration and support from a great variety of organizations and individuals.  CSTA greatly appreciates the work of this Administration which has elevated CS education and the needs of CS teachers to a national priority.  We look forward to the great works that will come out of the current #CSForAll commitments, and for those that will follow.

2016 is going to be a great year for K-12 CS Education.  Please keep following #CSForAll and #CSTA on Twitter for more developments or reach out to CSTA if you are a CS teacher or organization who would like to be involved in our evolution.

About CSTA:  The Computer Science Teacher’s Association (CSTA) is a member-based organization founded in 2004 by ACM, the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society.  CSTA’s mission is to empower, engage, and advocate for K-12 CS teachers worldwide.

Spotlight on the 2015 Faces of Computing Video Contest: How Does Computing Better our World?

Once again I find myself writing a blog post in a hospital setting and I can’t help but marvel at the wonders of computing technology; over the past week my dad has undergone exhaustive pre-op screening to determine whether he will withstand the vascular surgery he needs. Many of these tests were performed using computer aided technologies such as CT scanning and ultrasonography, and so far the results are encouraging.   

The timing is also perfect to write about our exciting new video competition: last year our Faces of Computing theme brought in a wide range of multimedia productions from schools all over the world, and it was quite a task to decide on the winning entries. This year we’ve decided to narrow the theme to “Computing for the Common Good,” in an effort to illuminate aspects of computing that are often overlooked by the younger generation. Sure, gaming and social media are a big part of our lives, and they involve a great deal of coding to create and maintain; it’s time however we gave some thought to all of the benefits society and mankind are gaining from the age of computing.

Teachers, help prepare the future generation of socially aware citizens by discussing the challenges of 21st century society and inspiring your students to seek solutions. Be it the advent of computer-aided medicine and biotechnology, volunteers crowdsourcing knowledge on the Wikimedia projects or crowdfunding donations for noble causes, robotics to the aid of disabled persons… there’s a multitude of applications that illustrate how computing is used as a tool to better our world. The entries we are looking for could resonate these tools. There may be youngsters who are involved in school communities who discuss social, gender and/or racial inclusion, or who are active in helping the recent international flow of refugees from war-ridden regions. Perhaps they could brainstorm a solution in their computer science class, and even develop it into an app (like the Neverlost group project: the page is now available in English). We’d love to see your ideas!

Entries should be submitted in the form of a video with a maximum duration of three minutes: see the competition guidelines for more information. Remember that the deadline for submitting your entry is November 7, 2015. So, get your creative juices flowing and show us how computing can play an important role in making the world a better place!

Mina Theofilatou

CSTA International Representative

Athens, Greece

This post is dedicated to the memory of my mother, who was always compassionate to those in need and an ardent supporter of positive change. Special thanks again to Dr. S. Matthaiou of Hippocrateio Hospital for helping me make the right decisions on my dad’s problem, and to Dr. N. Besias of the Hellenic Red Cross Hospital for taking good care of him and expediting the procedures.

Must-read (and Share) Report on US K-12 CS Education

They say you can have data without information, but not the other way around.  So for those of you seeking data on why CS in K-12 matters there is good news today.  There is a new report out from Google and Gallup, which I particularly encourage all of our members in the US to read and share.  Whether you are in K-12, higher education, government, or the corporate environment the data and information contained in this report is important.  As we head into another school year, it would be great if every school board member, superintendent, principal, parent, and legislative representative read the report as well.

The report is entitled, Searching for Computer Science: Access and Barriers in K-12 Education, and is available as a downloadable PDF here.

In short, the study illustrates that CS education matters, and that there is strong demand for CS education in K-12.  Two key barriers identified in the study are that administrators do not perceive that demand, and there is a shortage of teachers to teach CS.  The report also has some illuminating data around issues of equity and access.  As a whole, the report touches on critical topics we are working on in CSTA now and have even bigger plans for going forward.

Among some of the interesting findings:

  • 91% of parents surveyed want their child to learn Computer Science (CS), but <8% of administrators believe demand is high.
  • Half of principals and superintendents surveyed cite the lack of trained teachers as a barrier – greater than the need for technology. Less than half of administrators perceive school board support for CS.
  • 3 out of 4 principals surveyed say their school offers NO CS programming/coding classes.
  • More than 90% of students and parents surveyed believe people who do computer science have the opportunity to work on fun and exciting projects, and that people who do CS make things that help improve people’s lives.

Given that yesterday marked the “two-month mark” for me as the new executive director for the Computer Science Teacher’s Association, this news only reinforces for me that the mission of CSTA — to empower, support, and advocate for K-12 computer science teachers — is a mission that matters.

We can do more.  We must do more. CS matters, and we need more support to give all students better access to quality CS education, and ensure that CS teachers across the educational spectrum have access to the PD and resources they need to provide that quality CS education.  A great first step is making sure that the findings of this study are communicated and shared widely.

Study Confirms Critical Need for Computer Science Evaluation Tools

A recent study released by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) highlights the need for valid and reliable source assessment of student learning and calls upon the computer science education community to assist in the development of more and better assessment tools and strategies.

Sowing the Seeds of Assessment Literacy in Secondary Computer Science Education details the results of a landscape study aimed at determining the challenges US high school teachers face when examining student understanding of computing concepts and to identify current models for computer science (CS) assessment. The study, supported by Google, was conducted by the CSTA Assessment Task Force chaired by Aman Yadav, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology and Educational Technology at Michigan State University. The study took place over a year and involved in-depth interviews with computer science practitioners with a wide range of teaching experience.

The study concluded that while computer science teachers use a variety of formative and summative assessment techniques and rely on an assortment of sources (test banks, colleagues, even their own undergraduate CS courses), they face a number of challenges finding valid and reliable assessments to use in their classrooms.  Many participants also noted that the potential for variability in how students approach and develop algorithms makes assessment especially challenging and time-consuming.

Among the report’s recommendations, the CSTA Assessment Task Force suggests the following next steps for the CS Ed community:

  • Develop valid and reliable assessments aligned to the CSTA K–12 Computer Science Standards.
  • Develop valid and reliable formative and summative assessments for programming languages beyond Java, such as Python, C#, etc.
  • Develop an online repository of assessment items for K–12 computer science teachers.
  • Develop a community of practice surrounding the use of assessment in computer science classrooms.
  • Design and deliver professional development to increase K–12 computer science teachers’ assessment literacy.

The chair of the CSTA Assessment Task Force, Aman Yadav, highlighted the importance of the study, stating: “During our in-depth interviews with the teachers, we found that teachers are very resourceful in using a hodgepodge of resources (test-banks, rubrics, etc.) and lean on their peers to come up with assessments that examine student understanding in their classrooms. But, there is a dearth of formative and summative assessments, especially for non-AP courses, that are easy accessible and categorized by grade level, concept, difficulty, programming language, etc. The Task Force is now working with the CSTA Board to launch a new project to create a repository of assessment resources that teachers can access to meet their needs.”

CSTA hopes that this study will focus the computer science education community’s attention on the importance of valid assessment of student learning and the pressing need for better and more computer science assessment tools and strategies.

Download the official press release here. 

Download the PDF of the study here. 

“Hello, World!”

A simple phrase known to perhaps every computer science teacher and student today.  Two words that can say so much.  Translated across many languages (human and computer), the phrase is a universal starter when learning something new.

A Mission That Matters.

In today’s world the need for us all to keep learning something new has moved beyond nicety to necessity.  Analytics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Everything, and other outgrowths of computing will continue to accelerate the pace of knowledge creation and societal change across the globe.  Computational technology is increasingly ubiquitous, and yet few people understand what goes on inside the black box.  Computers remain mysterious to many, and technology advances so quickly today that even those of us comfortable with technology can become overwhelmed by keeping up.

Computer Science is emerging as the lingua franca of the evolving world.  However, reports that the percent of students graduating with a degree in computer science is less today than a decade ago.  At the same time, Crain’s New York Business observed that fewer than one in eight public schools in New York City have a computer science teacher.  As Jane Margolis argues in her research, access to this universal language is fundamental to future prosperity and participation in society.

The imperative for stronger educational opportunities and access in the computing disciplines continues to grow.  Making that access happen requires many other things to happen as well.  High on that list are meaningful and standards-based education and credentialing for teachers, making Computer Science count toward graduation, and establishing economically sustainable models to maintain and grow the quality of educational opportunities in computer science for both teachers and students.

Who am I?

My name is Dr. Mark R. Nelson.  I am excited and honored to be joining CSTA’s leadership team as its new Executive Director in a few weeks.  I am looking forward to getting to know the community, and as you may discern from the opening above, I believe CSTA has a mission that matters and that together we can positively affect the lives of many teachers and students.  As a very mission-driven individual, that inspires me.

On a personal level, I am 46.  I have an alphabet soup of credentials behind my name that reflect an ongoing passion for learning and education.  My Myers-Briggs type would place me as a strong INTJ.  Those who know me often use the words “thought leader, relationship builder, strategist, collaborative, and creative” to describe me.  Most also comment on my penchant to blend academic theory and practical experience when problem solving.  I enjoy the analytical process of finding meaningful stories in a set of data, and the socially creative process of collaborative problem solving.

A Future Vision.

While I have a vision for CSTA’s future, I am cognizant of the fact that I am new to the community.  Thus, over the next few months, I am looking to hear from many of you regarding your vision for CSTA.  Together we must unify around a clear articulation of who CSTA is as a community and how we build upon our prior successes to make lasting, sustainable, positive, and meaningful impact for our members and society.

As an association, CSTA is entering its second decade – the teen years.  The organization has benefited from terrific leadership and experienced impressive growth over the past decade. However, there is more to be done and we must continue to evolve.   This may mean re-evaluating some practices and policies, and finding new ways to enable engagement for all members of the CSTA community.

I am grateful to be joining a community where, like Seussian Whos, there is a fantastic story to be told and tell it we must.  I am eager to hear more of that story, and share it with others.  Please join us in July at our meeting in Dallas, as we learn something new, build relationships, and share stories.

Finally, a personal note of thanks to the search committee for their hard work, and to Lissa Clayborn, both for her substantive contributions as Acting Executive Director and for taking on the role of Deputy Executive Director and COO for CSTA.  We have complementary skills and a shared belief in the potential for CSTA to fulfill its mission.

Having gone on too long, I will end my introduction as I began, with two simple words that can say so much:   “Hello, World!”

PRESS RELEASE: Access to and Understanding of Computer Science Education are Issues in US High Schools

Access to and Understanding of Computer Science Education are Issues in US High Schools

Administrators Say Opportunities for Learning Computer Science Vary Widely

New York, NY – January 6, 2015 – A new survey released today by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), in collaboration with Oracle Academy, finds that while interest in computer science is on the rise, there are still issues with access to and understanding of computer science (CS) education in high schools.

CSTA-Oracle Academy 2014 U.S. High School CS Survey: The State of Computer Science in U.S. High Schools: an Administrator’s Perspective surveyed more than 500 high school principals and vice principals from May-September 2014.* The survey sought to identify CS education opportunities being provided in high schools, determine how broadly CS is being offered in the US, and determine the different ways CS is being defined. Schools in 47 states participated with the most administrators’ responses coming from California, Pennsylvania and New York.The online survey, conducted by the Computer Science Teachers Association and Oracle Academy, asked administrators about computer science opportunities being offered at their schools.

The survey results showed that administrators are not completely aware of the content covered in computer science classes versus other courses. CSTA and Oracle Academy perceive the results as problematic for many reasons, including that CS often gets grouped with unrelated courses and classes. Participants applied the term “computer science” to a vast array of topics and courses. This broad use of “computer science” to encompass curriculum and courses that would not be considered “computer science” at a college/university or professional level indicates a need for educational community consensus on a common definition of computer science in K-12 education.

Additionally, the survey found that the academic departments chiefly responsible for teaching computer science are Career & Technology and Business. As for how the course fits into a student’s transcript, schools count a CS class as a requirement in math, science, or technology.

The survey found that of the 73% of respondents whose school offers computer science, an overwhelming majority count these credits toward those required for graduation. However, only 39% reported that they count a CS class towards a requirement in math, science, or technology. More often, schools are counting CS courses as electives. This becomes problematic because electives are often culturally and academically regarded as filler classes in a student’s schedule. A CS course that “counts” drives demand from students and builds the case for these courses to be required.

The top content areas covered in computer science courses were listed as:

  • Problem solving 65%
  • Ethical 57%
  • Social issues 57%
  • Graphics 57%
  • Web development 51%
  • Algorithms 35%
  • Testing 35%
  • Debugging 35%

Each of these content areas are core to computer science and, in particular, programming.

One of the most important findings from the study suggests that better-funded schools are offering CS to their students at a far higher rate than low-income schools. Of the 27% of schools where the majority of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, 63% offer computer science courses. Of the 44% of schools where the majority of students do not qualify for free lunch, 84% offer computer science courses. This means that in lower income schools, 37% percent offer no computer science whatsoever, versus only 16% percent in higher income schools.

“Access to good computer science education is a defining 21st century issue,” said Oracle Academy Vice President Alison Derbenwick Miller. “We must come together as a community to bring better understanding and access to all students to help them develop the knowledge and expertise required for in-demand careers today and into the future. We are pleased to have worked with CSTA on this very important survey.”

“We are grateful to Oracle Academy for supporting this survey as the findings create a much clearer picture of CS education in US high schools than we’ve had to date,” said Lissa Clayborn, Acting Executive Director, CSTA. “At the local community, state, and national levels, this data can help inform continued and more thoughtful discussions about curriculum pathways, course design, funding for CS courses, come to a shared definition and help to solve the puzzle of teacher certification and other education policy issues.”

*[UPDATE: More than 20,000 people received the survey, for a response rate of 2.5 percent. Respondents came from 47 states.]

To review the complete results from this survey, as well as previous CSTA High School surveys, please visit

Media Contact: Stacey Finkel

Connecting K-12 CS Educators to Content through Search

Cameron L. Fadjo, CS Custom Search Project Lead

The recent wave of interest in having students, particularly those in grades K through 12, learn computer science has led to a surge in the development of many new and exciting programs and tools. Whether it is comprehensive curricula, engaging projects, robust online educational programs, extensible programming languages, or after school programs, there is something for just about everyone in CS education. As more programs get rolled out online through various sources, though, it is increasingly challenging to locate and explore these new resources.

At Google, we’re passionate about organizing information and making it universally accessible and useful. Over the past couple of years we’ve heard from numerous CS teachers (many of whom are members of CSTA) that it would be extremely helpful if there was an easier way to access a wide range of different classroom-related CS materials and programs. To address this challenge, we created Computer Science (CS) Custom Search, a search engine that has been customized with over 500 different CS education websites.

CS Custom Search has been designed to support users with different levels of experience with CS. By incorporating suggested search queries into the landing page, we believe this helps less experienced users with their initial exploration of CS and more experienced users discover even more programs or tools.

Please check out CS Custom Search and let us know how it works for you. Our goals are to continue to increase the number of sites on CS Custom Search in parallel with the ever-expanding list of new resources and to ensure that the search experience continuously reflects the needs of its audience – the CS education community.

Want to get started? Visit CS Custom Search to begin your search.

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