Every Washington state school should be teaching every child about CS.
Why teach CS?
There are many reasons:
- Access and engagement in CS learning is an equity and justice issue. Most youth in our state do not have access and if even they do, they do not engage. Engagement in classes is often shaped by myths that only some students can learn CS, leading to great disparities in knowledge and opportunities for girls, students of color, and students in rural communities.
- There are stable, high-paying jobs in computing that most Washington state youth never learn about.
- Computing is reshaping society; understanding computing is key to being an engaged citizen.
- Computing skills are valuable in nearly all professions, even if youth don't pursue software engineering careers.
- Parents want to their children to learn CS.
- CS is a compelling new area that many teachers are interested in learning to teach.
- CS often uses active learning pedagogy and project-based approaches that can enhance school pedagogy
- CS promotes 21st century skills like creativity, collaboration, and communication.
Additionally, in 2019, the Washington state legislature passed SB 5088, which requires all secondary schools to offer a computing elective available to all students by the 2022-2023 school year.
Is there funding to support CS teaching?
Yes. The 2017 Washington State Legislature allocated $1,000,000 of the general fund in Fiscal Year 2018 and $1,000,000 in Fiscal Year 2019 for computer science education (ESSB 5883, Sec. 501, 35). These funds are designated for teacher training and credentialing in computer science; technology upgrades needed to learn computer science; and engaging students in computer science. See the OSPI grant website for details.
There are also ways to get volunteer teaching support. For example, you can apply for your school to be a Microsoft TEALS partner. TEALS will professional development and volunteers with CS backgrounds to support teaching.
Do we need computers for every child to teach CS?
Despite its name, computer science isn't about computer hardware, it's about computer software. Therefore, there many effective ways to teach computing topics without computers. See the popular collection of CS Unplugged materials for examples.
How can I learn more about teaching CS in my school or district?
The national non-profit CS for All has trained many of the ESD facilitators in our state to offer school and district level trainings. (You can learn more about the training they received in summary of the training). Find your ESD coordinator and reach out to ask for 1- or 2-day workshop to develop a strategic plan.
You can also consult the excellent K-12 CS Education Curriculum guide prepared by the state of Massachusetts. Most of its content is relevant to any U.S. state.
What curriculum do you recommend?
We don't endorse any particular curricula—every school and district is different—but here are some of the curricula being used nationwide.
- Code.org offers K-12 curricula and professional development.
- LaunchCS works with teachers, schools, districts, and state-level organizations to provide professional development for K-8 educators.
- Quorum offers an AP CS Principles curriculum that is screen-readable, making it accessible to students who are blind, low-vision, or have other disabilities that require them to use screen readers.
- Project Lead the Way has a CS curriculum.
- Bootstrap integrates with algebra, physics, and data science.
- BootUp offers elementary curriculum and professional development.
- TEALS partners with high schools to offer intro, AP CS A and AP CS Principles courses.
- Beauty and Joy of Computing is a curriculum for AP CS Principles.
- Exploring Computer Science is a year long, evidence-based introductory high school curriculum.
- Mobile CSP is a mobile development oriented AP CS Principles curriculum.
- Apple has K-12 curriculum based on its Swift programming language.
- Scratch Creative Computing is a curriculum based on the Scratch programming environment.
Where can I learn more?
California has prepared an excellent guide for administrators, which answers questions such as:
- What does equity in CS mean?
- Who should lead CS initiatives?
- Does CS have learning standards?
- What's an appropriate course sequence?
- What about data science?
Some of the answers are specific to California, so if you have any questions, reach out to our team.