CSTA High School Survey Results Are In

The Research Committee has been analyzing the High School survey results from May and below are some of the highlights. A detailed Summary of Results is available on our website.

  • 51% of the survey respondents have computer science teaching experience of 15 years or more
  • 45% of the teachers reported that computer science courses make up 50-75% of their teaching load.
  • 66% of the teachers reported that they are offering a CS principals course
  • 79% of the teachers reported that they offer the APCS A course.
  • 68% of those who offer APCS A course reported that half of their course enrollment are female, and between 20-40% are underrepresented minorities.
  • Majority of the teachers (68%) also reported that CS enrollment has increased in the past 3 years

These statistics are encouraging for the outlook of CS education and what is going on in the High Schools at this time. However, this data is self-reported and we need to examine ways to triangulate the numbers, especially the APCS-A enrollment numbers. We encourage you to view the full summary.

The Research Committee,

Stephanie Hoeppner & Aman Yadav

CSTA2016 Submissions and Reviews

The review period for next summer’s annual conference just ended, and we will have an amazing program for you! For this conference we will have workshops, one hour sessions, 20 minute short talks and birds of a feather networking opportunities. Almost one hundred professionals in the field of computer science education reviewed the submissions. Every continent was represented as well as every level and type of education.

The next step is arguably the toughest. The planning team met in late-October to determine the actual program. We want this conference to be the best professional development and conference for K-12 computing educators, so we put a lot of effort into balancing all of the offerings.

I look forward to seeing you in San Diego in July of 2016!

Tammy Pirmann
Review Chair, CSTA 2016
CSTA Board Member, District Representative

Less than a week to go before I can start looking at the submissions for CSTA 2016

Less than a week to go before I can start looking at the submissions for CSTA 2016.  The submission deadline is October 1!

If you are reading this you probably teach computing. You probably also have (at least) one special practice or bit of curriculum, or general teaching approach that you think works really well for you. That it works well for you means it is worth sharing with other computing teachers at CSTA 2016. We’ll be meeting next July 10-12 in sunny San Diego!

Submitting a proposal is easy. Just go to the conference portal (https://www.softconf.com/h/csta2016/), click the “HERE” link in the “For authors:” section, read the legal stuff about expectations, and start entering your proposal. You can check the system out without having to sign up or anything. (I always look at the information they want and write it up in a text editor, then copy and paste it into the web page.) I can’t guarantee your proposal will be accepted but it certainly will get serious consideration.

You might also consider volunteering to review submissions. That goes double for folks who have attended CSTA some time in the past. To volunteer to become a reviewer, please complete the following form: http://goo.gl/forms/xc5UAbFMd7 by September 27. If you have questions, please contact: submissions@csta-hq.org.

I’ve had the privilege of being involved in the planning of all the CSTA conferences. Back in the old days a bunch of knowledgeable people and I would get together and identify topics and speakers, which is impossible with the size of the conference today. It would also make for a less diverse, energetic, and useful to participants conference than we get with proposal submissions and peer review.

So, please consider submitting a proposal or volunteering to review. You can propose a 20-minute session, a 60-minute session, a 3-hour workshop, or a birds-of-a-feather.

I look forward to seeing your proposal!

Thank you,
Philip East
CSTA 2016 Program Chair

“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, Code.org 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!”


SIGCSE is the annual conference for the special interest group of ACM that is focused on computer science education. It is always a great event, and if you have never attended, you should put it on your radar for next year! CSTA Board Members and Chapter members will be a presence at SIGCSE this year in many different ways.

Here’s where you can find us:

CSTA Booths #116 and 118 in the Exhibitor Hall.

Helping to pull the whole awesome affair together are John Dougherty (CSTA-Phila) and Ria Galanos (CSTA-VA).


Teaching to Diversity in Computer Science from 1:00pm – 4:30pm with Helen Hu (CSTA-UT).

CS Teaching Tips Tip-A-Thon from 1:00pm – 4:00pm with Stephanie Hoeppner (CSTA Board Member) and many others.


NSF showcase – Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning in CS with Clif Kussmaul (CSTA-Phila), Helen Hu (CSTA-UT) and Daniel Libby.

Computer Science Principles Curricula: On-the-ground, Adoptable, Adaptable, Approaches to Teaching from 1:45pm – 3:00pm with Owen Astrachan (CSTA-Triangle East), Jeff Gray (CSTA-AL) and others.

Supporting the Computer Science Learning Process from 3:45pm – 5:00pm with Pat Yongpradit (CSTA-MD) and others.

BOF – Computer Science Principles: Expanding the Community from 5:30pm –  6:20pm with Owen Astrachan (CSTA-Triangle East), Fran Trees (CSTA Chapter Liaison), Rich Kick (CSTA-Southern CA) and others.

BOF – What Math is the Right Math for Computing? from 5:30pm – 6:20pm with John Dougherty (CSTA-Phila).

BOF – Teaching Algebra and Computing through Bootstrap and Program by Design from  5:30pm – 6:20pm with Emmanuel Schanzer (CSTA member)

BOF – Teaching Algebra and Computing through Bootstrap and Program by Design from 5:30pm – 6:20pm with Emmanuel Schanzer (CSTA member)

BOF – Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) in Computer Science from 5:30pm – 6:20pm with Clif Kussmaul (CSTA-Phila) and Helen Hu (CSTA-UT) and others.

BOF – Partnering to Promote State-by-State Computing Education Reform from 6:30pm – 7:20pm with Barb Ericson (CSTA-GA).

BOF – Addressing Professional Development Needs for K-12 CS – Working with Your Local CSTA Chapter  from 6:30pm – 7:20pm with Dave Reed (CSTA Board Chair-Elect) and Fran Trees (CSTA Chapter Liaison).


Using POGIL Activities to Teach CS Principles to Diverse Students, a Poster by Helen Hu (CSTA-UT)

A Case Study on Adding Computer Science as a Math Graduation Elective: A Report from the Alabama CS/Mathematics Crosswalk Committee, a Poster by Jeff Gray, et al (CSTA-AL)

Research, Resources and Communities: Informal Ed as a Partner in Computer Science Education, a panel with Irene Lee (CSTA Chair Computational Thinking Task Force) from 10:45am – noon

Papers: Focus on K-12 Professional Development with Chinma Uche (CSTA-CT), Terry Harvey and Lori Pollock (CSTA-DE) and Deepa Muralidhar (CSTA-GA) from 1:45pm – 3:00pm

One-Day Activities for K-12 Face-to-Face Outreach (Panel) on Friday from 3:45pm – 5:00pm. Barb Ericson (CSTA-GA) and Jeff Gray (CSTA-AL) are on the panel.

Perspectives on Adopting and Facilitating Guided Inquiry Learning with Helen Hu (CSTA-UT), Clif Kussmaul (CSTA-Phila) and Deepa Muralidhar (CSTA-GA) from 3:45pm – 5:00pm.

Conducting Educational Research in the Computer Science Classroom: Choosing the Appropriate Research Design to Address your Research Questions from 7:00pm – 10:00pm with Aman Yadav (CSTA Board Member)

How to Plan and Run Summer Computing Camps – Logistics #14 from 7:00pm – 10:00pm with Barb Ericson (CSTA-GA)

Small or Liberal Arts Colleges Adapting to CS2013: Making it Work from 7:00pm – 10:00pm with Dave Reed (CSTA Board Chair-Elect)

The Internet, Creativity and Global Impact: Curriculum Modules from 7:00pm – 10:00pm with Andrew Kuemmel (CSTA-WI) and Rich Kick (CSTA-Southern CA)

Infusing Cooperative Learning into Early Computer Science Courses to Support Improved Engagement from 7:00pm – 10:00pm with Jeff Gray (CSTA-AL), Fran Trees (CSTA Chapter Liaison), Owen Astrachan (CSTA-Triangle East)


App Inventor Breakfast is co-hosted by Fred Martin (CSTA Board Member)

Scaling High School Computer Science: Exploring Computer Science and Computer Science Principles from 9:00am – 10:15am with Owen Astrachan (CSTA-Triangle East), Jeff Gray (CSTA-AL), and others.

Decoding CS Principles – A Curriculum from Code.org from 3:00pm – 6:00pm with Baker Franke (CSTA-Chicago) and Pat Yongpradit (CSTA-MD)


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.

The Certification Committee

The Certification Committee is primarily concerned with issues surrounding teacher certification for Computing teachers. Our most recent effort was the publication of the white paper, Bugs in the System: Computer Science Teacher Certification in the U.S.. This was a substantial effort of members from almost every state! You can see the state map that resulted from this work, where each state has a color code based on whether or not that state has a certification for HS, for MS or no certifications at all. One of the criteria is Computer Science as a required course, but not one state had that in 2013.

Currently, we are working on a public response to the Teacher Preparation Regulations being proposed by the U.S. Dept of Education. Public comments close on February 2, 2015.

On our website, you will find the Certification section at the bottom of the left side navigation. We currently have two links, one to the resources which include downloadable PDFs of our two white papers as well as information on a methods course for teacher prep programs. The second link is to an interactive map of the United States. Each state contains answers to three questions: Is Computer Science a required course? Is there a Middle School Computer Science teacher certification? and Is there a High School Computer Science teacher certification?  Soon, we will be adding a link to this page to allow our members to self-report changes to these questions for their state. Advocacy for Computer Science education is having an effect on this data, and we would like to keep this information current.

Who is on the Certification Committee?
Chair – Tammy Pirmann
Members – Deborah Seehorn, Aman Yadav, Stephanie Hoeppner, and Lissa Clayborn

Q&A: Running for the CSTA Board

The deadline for applying to run for the CSTA Board of Directors is rapidly approaching (Feb. 1).  In case you were on the fence about applying for the board, here are answers to five of the most common questions that potential candidates ask:

Q: How much work is involved in being a Board member? 
A: You have probably seen the phrase “the CSTA Board is a working board” in several places.  What this means is that members of the Board are expected to help carry out the business of the organization – not just advise or supervise.  This includes two face-to-face board meetings, one held in conjunction with the CSTA Annual Conference and another held in the late fall.  While these meetings are packed and productive, most of the Board’s business is conducted throughout the year by committees, with individuals working from home and coordinating via phone conferences. The time commitment can vary by task, e.g., the work conducted by the Elections & Nominations Committee is concentrated around setting up and running the annual elections, and is light during other times of the year. On average, I would guess that the workload averages out to 2-4 hours per week.

Q: Are Board members expected to cover their own travel expenses to meetings?
A: No, expenses for travel are reimbursed (within reason) following CSTA’s travel policy guidelines.  This includes travel, hotel, and meals at Board meetings.  It also includes expenses related to attending the CSTA Annual Conference, since Board members are expected to attend this event and help out by proctoring sessions and assisting with registration.  A copy of the travel policy is provided to all newly elected Board members.

Q: Why are there different positions on the Board, such as 9-12 Representative and At-Large Representative? 
A: The mission of CSTA is a broad one, promoting K-12 CS education and supporting the interests and professional development of our 18,000+ members.  It is essential that the Board have a diversity of perspectives and experiences to address the issues and challenges that arise in the organization’s business.  Each position has requirements to ensure that key perspectives are represented on the Board.  For example, the 9-12 Representative is required to be a “9–12 classroom teacher who is currently teaching computer science at the high school level.”  Once on the Board, all members are equal in status and welcome to contribute to all initiatives.

Q: If I apply for a position, does that automatically mean I will be on the ballot?
A: Unfortunately, no.  According to the CSTA bylaws, the election ballot will list at most two candidates for each open Board position.  If more than two qualified candidates submit applications, the Elections & Nominations Committee is charged with selecting the two most outstanding candidates to be placed on the ballot.  Committee members independently rank the candidates using a rubric that considers factors such as leadership skills and experience, understanding of core issues in CS education, and alignment of goals to CSTA’s mission.  While this model does sometimes mean that highly qualified candidates do not make the ballot, it does allow for us to keep the ballot size manageable while still providing detailed statements from each candidate.

Q: Why should I consider running for the CSTA Board?
A: Serving on the CSTA Board of Directors is an extremely rewarding opportunity to give back to the teaching community.  Board members help to set the vision for the organization and work to promote CS education on a global scale.  Their work supports and provides professional development for CSTA’s more than 18,000 members.  In addition, working closely with other amazing educators is rewarding in itself.

Download the 2015 CSTA Nominations Form at http://csta.acm.org/About/sub/AboutFiles/2015Election.html.

Dave Reed
Chair-elect, CSTA Board of Directors

Better Know a Committee

This posting kicks off a new series of blog posts, intended to inform you, the CSTA membership, as to how your Board of Directors works. In brief, the CSTA Board of Directors consists of eleven members, elected by the general CSTA membership. To ensure a diverse set of perspectives and experiences on the Board, members are elected to specific positions: K-8, 9-12 (two representatives), School District, Teacher Education, International, College Faculty, University Faculty, and At-Large (two representatives). The Board members select a Chair every two years from among the eleven, who coordinates the Board’s activities.

The CSTA Board of Directors is a working board. Board members work closely with the Executive Director to articulate the vision for the organization, plan initiatives and activities, and help carry out the organization’s business. Much of this work is done through standing committees and task forces. Over the coming weeks, the chairs of the committees and task forces will be posting summaries of their group’s goals and activities. If you would like to know more about a committee or task force, or possibly volunteer to help out, please feel free to contact us.

Dave Reed
Chair-elect and College Faculty Representative
CSTA Board of Directors

Assessing Computer Science Education

With the current national focus on making computer science (CS) count as a high school math or science credit or as core admissions credit for colleges and universities, the first step is to examine CS assessment landscape in K–12 education. In particular, it is imperative to conduct a landscape study on how the key players (teachers and CS education researchers) utilize assessment in their work. As more and more states adopt CS as a requirement, quality assessment will be a necessity that not only measures knowledge, but also assess student conceptual understanding. Currently, the quality and state of computer science assessment is generally unknown and opinions differ on what is available to the K–12 community at a cost effective rate (or free) and is easy to implement and access. Furthermore, the open-ended nature of computer science tasks makes it imperative that assessments are carefully developed and they fit the philosophy of open-ended algorithmic thinking.

Why is assessment so important? Having students demonstrate their understanding of the topic is essential to their learning process. Assessment helps to evaluate the student’s understanding of the subject matter and provides instructors with evidence of whether or not their educational goals are being met – both as a formative and a summative tool. However, the use of different programming languages and tasks in computer science classrooms make it challenging to develop a standardized test. Hence, it is important that we develop an understanding of what assessments are available, the caliber of the assessments including validity and reliability of available CS assessment.

Given the role of assessment, CSTA with funding from Google is undertaking this important task of examining the assessment landscape in high school computer science classroom. To meet the objective, CSTA Assessment Landscape Planning Committee will conduct a study to learn more about how CS teachers are using assessment in their own classrooms both to inform day-to-day instruction as well as end of course learning outcomes.

Aman Yadav
Chair, CSTA Assessment Landscape Planning Committee