CISE Announce: CSEdWeek


December 11, 2017

Dear CISE Colleagues,
 
This year’s CSEdWeek is underway—with students, parents, teachers, school officials, and out-of-school providers focused on showing kids—all kids—that computing can be creative, fun, and empowering. And thanks to so many of you, computer science (CS) education is becoming mainstream!
 
At CISE, we see CS K-12 education as an integral part of our longstanding efforts to ensure the development of a diverse workforce that understands foundational concepts of computing and information science and engineering, knows how to effectively use and develop new methodologies and tools, has the capacity to interact with all sectors of our society, and is prepared to lead the global information economy.
 
An important milestone this year was achieved in NSF-funded activities related to the development of the new Advanced Placement® (AP®) Computer Sciences Principles (CSP) exam. Thousands of teachers and faculty members have contributed their time and energy in an 8-year effort that created the course framework, AP exam, aligned instructional materials, and teacher professional development (PD). The first official CSP exam was held in May of this year; it was a record-breaking success:
 
The 2016-17 CSP launch was the largest launch of any AP course in the 60-year history of The College Board. Over 2,500 schools offered AP CSP courses, and they combined to enable more than 50,000 students to take the exam.
Even more importantly, the initial data confirm our belief that rigorous CS, taught in an engaging and inclusive manner, would attract a more diverse group of students. Compared to participation in the existing AP CS exam (CS A), African American participation was 7% in CSP (versus 4% in CS A); Hispanic participation was 19% (versus 11%), and female participation was 30% (versus 25%).  Although there is still much more to be done to increase diversity and inclusion, the numbers are pointing in the right direction.
 
A number of NSF-funded projects developed CSP instructional materials and PD aligned to the CSP framework. The three largest are endorsed by The College Board and are scaling nationally, having provided PD to over a thousand new CS teachers: the Beauty and Joy of Computing, Mobile CS Principles, and UTeache CS Principles. Most impressively, students from these three courses beat the national average CSP exam scores students overall, as well as within the disaggregated demographics. I’d encourage you to read more about the AP CSP exam here.
 
Partnerships are always crucial for achieving goals at scale, and CS education has been no exception. Within NSF, CISE has partnered with the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR); and we have worked together to partner with other federal agencies including the Department of Education and Department of Defense. In addition, we work with private stakeholders, resulting in a number of NSF projects being scaled nationally. Many other organizations are playing leadership roles as well, including Code.org, Project Lead the Way (PTLW), the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), and Teach for America (TFA).
 
Although there is much more work to be done in making courses like CSP available in every high school and building strong K-8 pathways to these courses, the current round of successes is a testament to the work of teachers and faculty across the country — and to many of you. During CSEdWeek, let us acknowledge (and thank them for) their hard work, creativity, passion, and dedication toward achieving these outcomes. Within NSF, we’d particularly like to give a particular shout out and thanks to Jan Cuny, Program Director for Computing Education, whose vision and leadership over the last decade has brought so many of us together and made all of the above possible.
 
To learn more about CSEdWeek and associated activities, see https://csedweek.org/. To find out more about ongoing efforts on CS education, see CSforAll.org. Teachers may also look at CSforAllTeachers.org, CSTA.org, and can join NSF’s listserv for CS teachers by sending e-mail to CSTEACHERS-request@LISTSERV.NSF.GOV.
 
Sincerely,
 
Jim and Erwin
 
Jim Kurose, Assistant Director of NSF for CISE (jkurose@nsf.gov)
Erwin Gianchandani, Deputy Assistant Director of NSF for CISE (egiancha@nsf.gov)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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