Dec. 5, 2018
State invests in computer science education
Adams 12 high school students become the teachers during Computer Science Education Week
DENVER - Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes observed a special lesson in computer science today for the students at Glacier Peak Elementary School in Brighton. Teacher Bobbie Bastian inspired her students at Bollman Technical Education Center in Adams 12 Five Star Schools to become the teachers during lessons for Glacier Peak Elementary students.
“We have thousands of computer science jobs available and not enough students graduating with degrees to meet the demand," Anthes said. “But the State Board of Education and the state legislature have worked together to change that, creating new resources and training to help teachers expand learning opportunities for students. I loved watching the older students teach the younger students today. Ms. Bastian's strategy of turning her students into teachers for younger kids is a great idea for inspiring her students and the younger students at the same time."
Bastian's students who became teachers for the day were from all five of the district's comprehensive high schools who are currently enrolled in Intro to Computer Science, Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science A, AP Computer Science Principles, and Cyber Security.
Colorado is trying to catch up to the demand for more college graduates with degrees in computer science by focusing on the state’s K-12 classrooms – offering teachers free training in computer science, creating rigorous computer science academic standards and developing a passel of educational resources.
Professional development available
The Computer Science Teacher Education Grant Program, enacted in 2017, provided $440,000 in professional development grants for teachers last year and another $380,000 will be distributed this year. These grants are distributed to districts, BOCES and charter schools for professional development in computer science for K-12 teachers.
The legislature allocated an additional $500,000 earlier this year specifically for teachers at the elementary school level.
The Colorado Department of Education will announce the additional elementary-focused grants in January. Districts can enroll teachers in free professional development opportunities offered throughout the state, and the department will provide stipends to participating teachers or funding to pay for substitutes while teachers are in training. Districts may also apply for funding to send their teachers to another elementary computer science professional development.
Colorado Academic Standards for Computer Science
Legislation passed in 2016 required the development of voluntary academic standards in computer science for high school students. The department engaged a broad array of stakeholders to inform this work, and the Colorado State Board of Education approved the new voluntary secondary Computer Science Standards this spring.
Content covered in the computer science standards includes computational thinking, computing systems and networks, and computer programming. Additional topics provide students with opportunities to examine the impact technology has on privacy, communication and society. Districts can choose to adopt the standards for their high school students.
Resource bank provides ideas and help for classroom instruction
An online Computer Science Resource Bank was created through a collaboration with educators and industry experts. Authorized by the legislature in 2017, the online resource bank includes a wide variety of ideas for teachers, including sample curricula and materials – even information about scholarships for students.
Policymakers created the different initiatives to vastly increase opportunities for Colorado students to learn computer science, opening up a world of career opportunities for them. Computing occupations are the No. 1 source of all new jobs in the United States and make up over half of all projected new jobs in STEM fields, making computer science one of the most in-demand college degrees. Yet in 2017, Colorado institutions of higher education graduated only 505 students with computer science degrees.