On January 30, 2016 the White House announced the Computer Science for All Initiative which will dedicate $4 billion in public and private funds to support Computer Science Education. The Center for STEM Education’s TRC program was honored to be acknowledged as part of President Obama’s CS for All (#CSforAll) announcement in recognition of the work the Center has been doing since 2014 related to computer science teacher professional development. The announcement listed the Center for STEM Education-TRC as partners in the 100Kin10‘s effort to increase the number of certified CS teachers. 100Kin10 has a network of over 200 partner organizations, all committed to recruiting, training, and retaining 100,000 STEM teachers, including 10,000 CS teachers, by 2021.
Dr. Carol Fletcher, Deputy Director of the Center for STEM Education, welcomes the President’s Computer Science for All initiative and the focus it will bring to the cause of CS education, because the need for increased computer science instruction is so clear. “Currently only 2% of Texas high school graduates complete a computer science course. We know that to meet the demands of the Innovation Economy, we must help school districts build their capacity to offer more coding, programming, computational thinking and computer science experiences to students across K-12.” Today, many CS jobs go unfilled and up to 60% of future STEM jobs will be in computer science related fields. In September 2015, 16,296 computer science related jobs were waiting to be filled in Texas. “Without a long-range strategic plan for addressing these gaps, we will not be able to continue to grow the Texas economy. That plan has to start with exposing more students to engaging and meaningful CS experiences and courses in K-12.,” states Fletcher.
The Center for STEM Education and TRC are already dedicated to addressing the need for CS teacher training and have impacted over 300 educators with CS related professional development. Under the banner of the TRC CS Network, they have been providing training opportunities and resources to CS and future CS teachers since the summer of 2014. In 2015, 100Kin10 recognized this dedication and provided a $295,000 grant to the Center for STEM Education-TRC to address high school Computer Science teacher preparation in Texas. To take on the challenge of increasing the number of CS certified teachers in Texas, the Center for STEM Education-TRC recently launched Teach CS. The new program seeks to combine face-to-face and online training with monetary incentives for teachers who successfully attain their 8-12 Computer Science Teacher Certification. The Texas Education Agency has also provided significant funding toward this effort.
The TRC’s existing, nationally recognized Science and Mathematics professional development network makes the organization uniquely positioned to be a statewide leader in CS teacher professional development as well. In this sense, the work to make Computer Science for All a success is well under way in the offices of the Center for STEM Education and TRC.