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Computer Science Teachers Association Hosts CS&IT Symposium

June 24, 2009     (212) 260-3401, x7249
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Where’s the “C” in STEM?

Computer Science Teachers Association Hosts CS&IT Symposium

to Improve K-12 Computer Science Instruction

NEW  YORK, NY — June 24, 2009 — While schools around the country are doing more to equip themselves with coursework that prepares students for the needs of today’s workforce, on too many occasions, computer science is surprisingly left out.  This is occurring despite the fact that the demand for IT professionals is at an all time high. To help ensure that K-12 students have access to a quality computer science education, on Saturday, June 27 in Washington, D.C., the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) will host the Computer Science and Information Technology Symposium (CS&IT).  The conference is designed to provide educators with the tools and resources needed to teach high-quality courses that will engage a larger number of students.  

 “We’ve heard a lot about the importance of defining strong standards in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), but not a lot about where to find the “C” in STEM, or where computer science fits in to that conversation,” said Chris Stephenson, executive director of CSTA.  “Inclusion in the larger skills and standards discussion will put us on the right path to ensuring that students have access to the skills and rigorous courses they need to thrive in the globalized knowledge economy.” 

According to a recent study by Association for Computing Machinery and WGBH, when asked about the choice of computer science as a college major, 74 percent of boys—regardless of race or ethnicity—reported that a college major in computer science was a “very good” or “good” choice.  But only 10 percent of girls rated it as a “very good” choice and 22 percent rated it as “good,” pointing out gender inequity concerns for the field.  Other statistics cited by CSTA show that fewer than one out of four U.S. high schools offers Advanced Placement computer science courses, a strong determinant of whether students will pursue post-secondary studies in that subject.  

These data have serious repercussions for the economic welfare of the nation as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there will be 1.5 million available computer specialist jobs expected in the U.S. workforce by 2016.  American universities graduate only 53 percent of the candidates needed to fill these jobs, leaving them unfilled or forcing companies to look overseas for talent.  

“This year’s Symposium will not only show computing educators how to leverage the latest tools and technology to effectively teach computer science, but it will also give them the knowledge needed to ignite students’ passion to excel at and pursue computing fields,” said Stephenson.   “The economic future of our country depends on building a strong pipeline.”  

Focusing on timely issues of greatest concern to computing teachers, this year’s Symposium will include sessions on how to navigate the confusing computer science teachers state certification process, how to communicate computational thinking’s importance across all subjects and specific classroom strategies to attract underserved groups, particularly minorities and girls, to computing.   

Scheduled in conjunction with the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) —the largest educational technology conference for educators and technology coordinators—the CS&IT Symposium will feature dynamic speakers such as Jane Margolis, Senior Researcher, University of California, Los Angeles and Joanna Goode, Assistant Professor, University of Oregon, who will speak on the intersection of education, race and computing, and Debra Richardson, Professor, University of California, Irvine, who will discuss the critical need to close the educational gap between K-12 education and colleges and universities.  

The CS&IT Symposium is the only one of its kind just for K-12 computer science and information technology educators. The symposium will provide a full day of relevant and interactive classroom-focused learning activities that will help computing teachers strengthen their technical and pedagogical skills, and discover new strategies for engaging all students.  

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About CSTA

The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) is a membership organization that supports and promotes the teaching of computer science and the other computing disciplines by providing opportunities for K-12 teachers and students to better understand the computing disciplines and to more successfully prepare themselves to teach and to learn.  CSTA provides its more than 7,000 members with resources, research, and professional development opportunities. CSTA was launched by ACM in 2005. 

About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.