About 67% of the STEM jobs that today’s K-12 students will be entering will require Computer Science skills and knowledge, according to Code.org, a national organization focused on increasing access to computer science education. Today Code.org is announcing a $500,000 investment to build on Alabama’s current efforts to expand Computer Science Education across the state.
To celebrate this achievement, Code.org, A+ College Ready, and the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) held a news conference in conjunction with the Shelby County School District on January 7.
Jake Baskin, Director of District Management at Code.org. addressed the media, along with Mary Boehm, A+ College Ready president, and Dr. Philip Cleveland, Deputy Superintendent of Career Technical Education for the Alabama State Department of Education.
Code.org is partnering with A+ College Ready, a division of A+ Education Partnership, and the Alabama State Department of Education to expand access to computer science education.
“Code.org is excited to partner with A+ College Ready and the state of Alabama. This collaborative is one of our first regional partners leading the nation in this movement,” said Baskin, Director of District Management at Code.org. “This partnership can help change the lives of Alabama students by preparing them to think critically about real world problems and put them on a pathway toward the highest demand jobs in the U.S. economy.”
“Support from Code.org will build upon the groundwork we’ve laid and take Alabama to the next level-bringing Computer Science courses to about 50 additional Alabama schools,” said Boehm with A+ College Ready. “Our incredible partnerships with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Dr. Jeff Gray of the University of Alabama helped prepare a strong group of public school teachers who are excited about this field of study and are helping recruit additional teachers to join their ranks.”
A+ College Ready worked with the University of Alabama and a select group of Alabama teachers to help pilot the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Principles course. This course will be an official AP Course beginning in the 2016-17 school year with the first exam being administered in May 2017.
The news conference was held on the second of three days of Code.org sponsored Computer Science training sessions featuring Dr. Gray. Of the 75 teachers signed up to participate in the training sessions, approximately 52 of them were Shelby County Schools teachers.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley recently signed a proclamation recognizing December 7 – 13, 2015, as “Computer Science Education Week.” This coincided with Code.org’s national “Hour of Code” campaign, a global event held that same week to promote computer programming skills beginning in elementary school.
The Governor’s proclamation read in part; “Computer Science Education Week highlights the crucial role that computer science plays in transforming our society and how computer science enables innovation and creates economic opportunities.”
Alabama’s recognition of this vital field is a strong step forward for public education in the state, said Dr. Philip Cleveland of the ALSDE. “The ultimate goal is to expand Computer Science Education into all of our schools, and get more teachers and students excited about where computer science can take them and our state.”
Currently, A+ College Ready is recruiting teachers to take part in the Code.org initiative to add Computer Science Principles’ courses into 50 more schools over the next two academic years (2016 – 2018). The goal is to bring the total number of AP Computer Science teachers in Alabama to over 100 by 2018. Teacher training will begin this summer, and about 15 slots are still available for teachers and schools interested in offering this course.