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Computer Science Education Week Spotlights Local Efforts to Ensure Strong Workforce

Urges Public to Raise Awareness of Need for Quality Computer Science Education at K-12 Levels

Contact:   Marina Stenos
    Widmeyer Communications 


WASHINGTON, D.C., December 5, 2011—While current labor projections show the creation of 800,000 new computing jobs by 2018, our nation’s education system is doing little to prepare students for these future careers.   Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), celebrating its third year from December 4-10, 2011, focuses on the need to build strong computer science education programs in schools, giving students the opportunity to explore this growing field and supporting the country’s need for a workforce skilled in computing. 

A main focus of this year’s CSEdWeek is to demonstrate how local, grassroots efforts can raise the status and quality of computer science education. Fewer than ten states count high school computer science courses as a core academic subject in graduation requirements, and computer science education suffers from a lack of teacher professional development, quality curriculum, student diversity and teacher certification. 

“We’re using this week in December, and other year-round efforts, to call attention to the need for stronger computer science education throughout the nation,” said Debra Richardson, Chair of CSEdWeek and Professor of Informatics at UC Irvine. “We’re mobilizing the computing community and grassroots partners—everyone from parents to teachers to CEOs—to encourage local policy changes and instructional reforms to provide broader access to computer science education so that all students can succeed in our information-driven world.” 

To address the challenges in computer science education, the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), founded by ACM (the Association for Computing Machinery), is releasing a revised version of its computer science education standards, CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards, during CSEdWeek. These learning standards, which have evolved from the models released in 2003 and 2006, will serve as a catalyst for widespread adoption of computer science education for all K–12 students. 

“These standards represent the work of experts across all educational levels. They are our community’s best effort to identify the computer science skills that students need at every stage of their K-12 education to ensure that they are prepared to thrive in the new global economy” said Chris Stephenson, Executive Director of CSTA.  “We decided that the release of our standards should coincide with CSEdWeek because this week is all about celebrating the importance of computing and our commitment to ensuring that our students have the skills and knowledge they need.” 

To date, CSEdWeek has registered over 2,000 pledges of support by individuals, with support from organizations such as Microsoft, CA Technologies, Google, Change the Equation, National Science Foundation, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Inc. and the American Association of Engineering Education and others. Some of the local celebrations include:

  •          Friday, Dec. 2: A mobile app boot camp for high school students hosted at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, Mass.; additional events will take place throughout the week of Dec. 5 at Bristol Community College, Hampshire College and MassBay Community College.
  •          Monday, Dec. 5: Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary offering career guidance and guided tours of top Canadian research labs, as well as the university’s computer science facilities, for high school students and teachers.
  •          Tuesday, Dec. 6: CA Technologies launch of a new national initiative, Tech Girls Rock, in collaboration with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, in New York, N.Y.
  •          University of California Berkeley hosting a day-long celebration for high school teachers and students to inform and inspire all participants about the possibilities of computing.
  •          Wednesday, Dec. 7: Cool Computing at Georgia Tech event for high school students showcasing the "cool" things taking place in computing.
  •          Thursday, Dec. 8: 200 third-graders learning hands-on programming and web site development  at “Techie Club,” an ongoing outreach effort supported by Columbus, Ohio’s TECH CORPS.
  •          Friday, Dec. 9: CSEdWeek, CSTA and National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) representatives honored at the White House as “Champions of Change,” which is part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. 

The CSEdWeek website—a Davey Award winning site—houses many resources and tools, including an event planning toolkit, suggestions for celebrations, reports and statistics, lesson plans, event listings across the U.S. and Canada, and links to the official CSEdWeek communities on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr among many others. 

Building on a foundation of recent national-level progress on computer science education, the third annual CSEdWeek also aims to call attention to the support of the United States Congress through the introduction of the Computer Science Education Act in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. 

“At a time when the country is talking about jobs—where they are, and how to create them—the computing industry is desperate to fill thousands of vacancies,” said Computing in the Core (CinC) Representative Della Cronin.  “Computer science is where the jobs are, and through efforts such as CSEdWeek, we aim to eliminate misperceptions about the discipline and to educate young people, their parents, educators and others about how important it is to include computer science in K-12 education in this country.” 

Held the second week in December, CSEdWeek was established in 2009 by the CinC coalition in honor of Grace Murray Hopper, a pioneer in computer science, who was born on December 9, 1906. She engineered new programming languages and developed standards for computer systems that laid the foundation for many advances in computer science from the late 1940s through the 1970s. CSEdWeek was endorsed by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 to acknowledge the critical role computer science education plays in K-12 and in higher education. 

CSEdWeek is a collaborative activity of CinC, a non-partisan advocacy coalition of associations, corporations, scientific societies, and other non-profits that strive to elevate computer science education to a core academic subject in K-12 education. CSEdWeek’s core partners are the Association for Computing Machinery, Microsoft, Google, Computer Science Teachers Association, NCWIT, IEEE Computer Society, Computing Research Association, College Board, Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology, SAS, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and National Science Teachers Association.