Press Release IT People

New Report from Anita Borg Institute, CSTA and University of Arizona Addresses Equity Issues in K-12 Computer Science Educations

Report Identifies Barriers and Strategies for K-12 Computer Science Teachers

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PALO ALTO, Calif. — March 30, 2010—A new report released today by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI) and the Computer Science Teachers Association points to the deepening equity crisis in computer science education and calls for a major engagement by all stakeholders.

Addressing Core Equity Issues in K-12 Computer Science Education: Identifying Barriers and Sharing Strategies shows that K-12 Computer Science education in the United States is in a state of crisis. The report discusses the reasons why women and underrepresented minority students are critically absent from computing at the K-12 level. Even while computer science is critical to national competitiveness, computer science teachers are suffering from an endemic lack of resources and a lack of support from their school districts and state governments.

The report stems from a town hall and workshop held at the 2009 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

Report Highlights
• There are profound barriers to equity in schools today: School districts lack focus on the importance of computer science and a coherent certification process for Computer Science teachers. Underrepresented minority students and girls are especially unlikely to get  family  encouragement to pursue computing – and teachers face significant challenges to recruit them in computer science classrooms.
• Solutions require engagement across multiple sectors: The solutions to equity issues cannot come from a single source but rather requires the engagement of teachers, academia, government, and industry.
• Computer Science teachers suffer from isolation, lack of resources, no consistent certification requirements, and a lack of access to partnerships that would increase their capacity.

“This report provides an in-depth look at the barriers currently existing in our educational system that are negatively impacting the recruitment of girls and underrepresented minorities in Computer Science,” said Dr. Caroline Simard, vice president of research and executive programs for the Anita Borg Institute and co-author of the report. “For students to be successful in today’s global knowledge economy they require high-level analytical and collaboration skills and the ability to manage complex information. These skills are not always emphasized by the current K-12 curriculum.”

Based on the information gathered at the event, the report makes recommendations for solutions to address the equity issues including:

1. Address the lack of women and underrepresented minorities through proactive efforts including mentoring students to build self-confidence,
2. Ensure that all school decision makers (administrators, guidance counselors, teachers) are encouraging girls and minority student to take rigorous computer science courses.
3. Engage industry representatives with K-12 teachers to provide an accurate and up-to-date picture of the computational thinking skills that a diverse body of students needs to engage successfully in the workforce.

“This report is a clarion call to all of the stakeholders who think these problems are solved,” said Chris Stephenson, executive director, CSTA and co-author of the report. “It provides practical, achievable suggestions for working together to ensure that all students have the opportunities that rigorous computing provides.”

The report was underwritten by Google, IBM, the National Science Foundation and the Motorola Foundation.

For more information, visit:
• Addressing Core Equity Issues in K-12 Computer Science Education: Identifying Barriers and Sharing Strategies full report

2010 K12 Computing Teachers Workshop
The 2010 K-12 Computing Teachers Workshop will be held at the 2010 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Atlanta, Georgia September 28-October 2, 2010. Applications for Computer Science teachers to apply for a scholarship will open in May 2010.

CSTA’s annual Computer Science & Information Technology Symposium, co-sponsored by Google, the Anita Borg Institute and Microsoft Research, will take place July 13, 2010. Registration is now open.

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