In support of the President's recent Computer Science For All announcement, the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance pledged to grow the alliance by five states.
The ECEP Alliance, part of the University of Massachusetts Amherst's College of Information and Computer Sciences, welcomes Arkansas, Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Virginia to its third cohort of states working to broaden participation in K-16 computing.
"Each of these states has a commitment to giving more students access to computer science in their public schools, but it doesn't happen overnight," said Mark Guzdial, ECEP principal investigator and professor of computer science at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "There can be a lot of potholes and speed bumps along the way, so ECEP state members share their experiences in order to learn from each other as they make these reforms in their own states."
Participants from each ECEP member state include stakeholders from state education departments, district leaders, K-16 faculty, industry, and non-profit leaders.
"By gathering state leaders from a variety of constituencies, ECEP can help increase the engagement needed to advance CS [Computer Science] education and educational policy reform, as well as bring people from different sectors into one conversation," said Sarah Dunton, ECEP alliance manager.
President Obama's January 2016 announcement of the Computer Science for All initiative has raised awareness of the need to make computing experiences available to all students. As a result, more states have expressed interest in joining the alliance, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a Broadening Participation in Computing Alliance. NSF's program goal is to increase the number underrepresented students who earn computer science college degrees.
"We serve as a catalyst to encourage states to provide professional development to teachers, create educational standards and frameworks, include computer science in high school graduation requirements, and improve the pathways into college-level computer science degrees," explained Rick Adrion, ECEP principal investigator and emeritus professor of computer science in UMass Amherst's College of Information of Computer Sciences.
A cornerstone in the ECEP model of state change is the development of leadership teams, which ECEP then convenes and supports with resources, services, and mini-grants.
CS STATUS FOR EACH OF THE NEW STATES
Arkansas - Governor Asa Hutchinson's Computer Science Initiative will require public high schools to offer computer science and dedicate funds to train teachers. Anthony Owen, Computer Science Coordinator for the Arkansas Department of Education, leads the Arkansas ECEP team.
Nevada - In Nevada, Mark Newburn, Board Member on the State Board of Education and others have been building a network of educators and change makers focused on scaling CS education in Nevada schools. Participating in ECEP allows Nevada to join the discussion about CS education reform across the U.S.
North Carolina - North Carolina has strong CS initiatives occurring across the state. Deborah Seehorn, Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) K-12 CS Standards Revision Task Force Co-Chair and former CSTA Board Chair, is leading a new team to coordinate these efforts and align them with goals to broaden participation in computing in North Carolina.
Rhode Island - The CS4RI initiative, which launched earlier this year, seeks to bring CS learning to all Rhode Island schools. Carol Giuriceo, Director of the RI STEAM Center at Rhode Island College, convenes RI's ECEP team of K-12, higher education, and industry representatives. As RI continues to grow CS4RI, they want to work with other states to strategically develop a sustainable plan for CS education.
Virginia - CodeVA seeks to bring computer science education to all VA students. Led by Rebecca and Chris Dovi, the program has trained at least one teacher in more than half of VA's public school districts. As leaders for ECEP's VA team, the Dovis expect the ECEP Alliance will provide a network where they can learn about successes and obstacles to state-level change.
October 28-29, all 17 states and territories in the alliance gathered for a two-day summit to advance the mission of the participants, share knowledge, and develop strategic action steps to broaden participation in computing in their own states.