There has been a nationwide call to empower all American students from kindergarten through high school to learn computer science and be equipped with the computational thinking skills needed to be creators in the digital economy.
Our economy is rapidly shifting, and both educators and business leaders increasingly recognize that computer science is a new basic skill necessary for economic opportunity and social mobility. Computer science is applied in nearly all fields of human endeavor ranging from agriculture, commerce, transportation, medicine, arts, music and even social sciences. By taking computer science courses in high school, students are better prepared for college and for their future careers.
A Boise State University project called IDoCode, in collaboration with Idaho school districts, Idaho Technology Council, Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA) and code.org, has led to a remarkable increase in the number of Idaho high school students studying computer science.
IDoCode trains teachers to offer high-quality computer science instruction and is critical in expanding access to computer science before college. Creation of the program was funded by a three-year, $1 million NSF Award to promote computer science education in high schools.
When the program launched in 2013, only three high schools in the Boise and West Ada school districts were offering computer science, with a total enrollment of around 60 students. None of the other school districts in the Treasure Valley area offered computer science courses.
By fall 2016, every high school in Boise and West Ada was offering computer science, with many offering multiple courses. There currently are more than 1,200 students taking computer science courses in these two school districts alone.
In 2014, the State Board of Education and House Education Committee approved a rule change allowing dual credit or AP computer science courses to count as core math or science credits. This provided incentive for more students to explore the field of computer science.
Boise State’s IDoCode program has led the effort to create programs for high school teachers and currently is working with 54 teachers. In addition, every school district in and around the Treasure Valley now has teachers who are trained, or in training with, the Boise State program, and most also are offering computer science courses.
Boise State is collaborating with the IDLA and code.org to create online courses and training that can be expanded across the state, and with the University of Idaho to replicate the IDoCode program up north. Additional workshops via IDLA and code.org have trained more than 300 elementary, 64 middle-school and 43 high school teachers.
BY: KATHLEEN TUCK PUBLISHED 7:30 AM / FEBRUARY 6, 2017