National Alliance for Expanding Computing Education Pathways has a new home at The University of Texas at Austin

By Christian Bazán
Expanding Computing Education Pathways 2018 State Map

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the UT STEM Center a three-year $2.5 million grant to lead the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance. ECEP is one of eight Broadening Participation in Computing Alliances (BPC) funded by the NSF to increase the number and diversity of students in K-16 pathways. ECEP works with state leadership teams to achieve this goal through education policy reform. First launched in 2012 through an NSF grant to Georgia Tech and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, ECEP has since grown through four phases from two states to sixteen and Puerto Rico. Building on the existing network of ECEP states noted in the map above, the ECEP leadership team is pleased to announce the fifth phase addition of six new states to the Alliance: Hawaii, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington.

Carol L. Fletcher, Deputy Director of the STEM Center, has served as a state leader for ECEP for three years and will serve as PI for the new ECEP 2.0 project coming to the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Fletcher sees leadership of the ECEP Alliance as a natural outgrowth of the work that the STEM Center has done in Texas to broaden participation in K-12 computing through the WeTeach_CS project. “Since we launched WeTeach_CS in 2014, we’ve helped Texas to substantially increase the number of certified CS teachers, the percentage of high schools offering CS, the number of students enrolling in high school CS courses and the diversity of students completing high school CS courses. Much of our success can be attributed to the support of the ECEP Alliance and other state leaders. I’m pleased to continue the good work of the ECEP Alliance and expand our support to even more states who are committed to broadening participation in K-16 computing.”, said Dr. Fletcher.

The goal of ECEP is to support states as they expand opportunity in computer science (CS) by ensuring that equity & broadening participation remain central to their core mission. ECEP state teams will continue to lead the nation in CS education policy reform efforts and serve as laboratories for iteratively developing, testing, and refining strategies, policies and interventions for BPC. ECEP 2.0 has three primary strategies.

  • Strategy #1: Catalyze, incubate, & sustain state leadership teams focused on BPC. ECEP is focused on supporting existing state leadership teams as well as developing the capacity of new states. This strategy will include the formation of three Networked Improvement Communities (NICs) to bring together state leaders working on common problems of practice around a) pre-service CS teacher preparation, b) 2-4 year CS pathways in higher education, and c) BPC professional development. Both ECEP and non-ECEP states will be invited to participate in NICs.

  • Strategy #2: Support state identification of goals & metrics that measure progress toward BPC. ECEP will assist states in developing long-range goals for BPC as well as metrics and data infrastructures for tracking progress toward those goals.

  • Strategy #3: Research best practices in BPC pathways at a state level.ECEP will leverage the power of the national network to capture and disseminate best practices and lessons learned in BPC efforts across multiple states and contribute to the emerging knowledge base around systems-level strategies for impacting BPC.

The STEM Center is headquartered at The University of Texas at Austin and supported by state, federal, and industry partners. Our mission to improve the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is achieved through research, outreach, and educational services. Partnering institutions of the ECEP Alliance leadership team include: Indiana University (Co-PIs: Anne Leftwich and Maureen Biggers), The University of California, Irvine (Co-PI: Debra Richardson), the CSforALL Consortium (Co-PI: Leigh Ann DeLyser), and the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (Co-PI: John Goodhue, ECEP Alliance Director: Sarah T. Dunton).

BPC Alliance info: The BPC Alliances were established between 2006 and 2009 to increase the number and diversity of college graduates in the computing and computationally-intensive disciplines. The Alliances are national and regional collaborations of academic institutions, educators, professional societies, community organizations, and industrial partners. They create the best practices, educational resources, advocacy networks, and forums needed to transform computing education. In aggregate, the BPC Alliances broadly address issues of engagement and education across the K-20 academic pipeline. They are specifically charged with addressing the long-standing underrepresentation of many groups within the computing community but, many, if not most, BPC-A activities increase awareness, access, engagement, and inclusion for all students.

Funding for ECEP is provided by a grant from the National Science Foundation (award #1822011). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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Christian Bazán is the Communications Coordinator for the STEM Center.