Minutes of the December 6, 2004 Task Force call regarding CSTA action item from the Sept SGB meeting

The call began at 3:00 pm. Chris Stephenson indicated that CSTA is now in the process of creating a strategic plan. They have put together multiple committees and are looking at mission, current crisis and specific strategies and action items to address objectives within 1 year and 3 years.

They are aware of problems and are trying to address them but it is a challenge to make change and achieve goals in the educational system. They are pushing to determine what must be done immediately, what resources are required and how they can put them in place. There is a crisis and that is not an exaggeration, the pipeline is collapsing at the entry level. When you look at what's happening in HS CS you see a complete collapse of system for a number of reasons. CSTA is developing plans to move into that zone and mitigate the damage.

ACM has provided a level of funding for the highest level of activity; to allow CSTA to put their organization in place, put their web page up, begin marketing and strategy plans. CSTA needs sustainability funding and funding to immediately address problems. They are working very hard to secure corporate funding and have some corporate supporters through their long relationship with the K12 task force. Many corporate supporters have moved from an organizational profit structure to departmental profit structure. They're requiring money spent to generate profitability. Even the organizations engaging are making it clear that they have to convince mangers to support each particular goal. CSTA is helping organizations figure out how to target money they're spending to get changes and changes they want.

Mike Burke offered to provide contacts outside IBM.

The things that CSTA needs to do can't find funding for include:

  • Creating and disseminating a standard curriculum - Need $ to disseminate and do outreach. Getting it printed, getting into the right hands, getting them together to talk about issues.
  • Teacher certification - Facilitating the process of coming up with solutions that are viable, to address needs of teachers and act as a conduit to create educational initiatives
  • Publication - they've got a fabulous pubs committee for creating pubs but no funding to launch

Stephenson summarized the reasons for collapse in HS pipeline -

  1. During times of fiscal restraint in school programs, those that get cut are those that administrators and legislators don't understand
  2. Dot bomb media frenzy followed by outsourcing concerns - convinced parents and students that the field is dead. Students are being ushered away from CS and being told that there are no opportunities and CS is not a viable career option
  3. A lack of structure because CS is taught so differently from school to school. There's a lack fo standardization - teachers are passing off courses that are giving CS credit but aren't CS, brightest kids are taking AP in traditional sciences and not CS, huge issues around certification and development, to teach well and keep skills up to date. Courses disappearing and teachers are disappearing

ROI for SIGs -
Make major inroads at a critical time and mitigate or stop collapse of pipeline at HS level. SIG membership is drawn from this in the future. An investment in the broader interest and better understanding of CS. Many SIGs working on great educationally targeted programs that could benefit form the K12 voice. Sounding board for SIGs - what do the teachers think about this?

The task force asked some questions about CSTA and Stephenson responded:

Was CSTA focusing in states?
Starting locally but building partnerships internationally so we don't repeat mistakes or ignore successes. The intent is to look at CS globally from the bottom up and top down to create change. Issues that don't apply globally are standardization of curriculum. Issues that do apply globally are the ongoing development of teachers and availability of relevant good teaching resources for students and teachers.

Is undergraduate CS being affected by the pipeline?
There's a lack of coordination and communication between HS and undergraduate structure. At one time you could you could count on students having no CS background. Now you don't know what you're getting and teachers are anxious to know what's expected and what they need to do to prepare their students. Universities will continue to struggle without standardization. There needs to be a requisite body of knowledge, familiarity with basic concepts to get through the 4 years. There should be a foundation and knowledge to build on. Students will do better because they'll understand the discipline and what's expected.

How do you see CSTA's organizational relationship with ACM?
We're struggling in terms of defining it and it feels as though walking a fine line. To make the claim that CSTA is a voice for K12 CS; there has to be a level of autonomy, an ability to set priorities, to establish structure and maintain internally an organization that has credibility. It's important for teachers to feel they have a voice at a national level. Structurally and legally it is a limited liability corporation of ACM. ACM guides it and is fiscally responsible. Communication has been the difficult part. The Ed Board has had involvement under the leadership of Russ Shackelford, but it's been confusing and upsetting to people. CSTA wants some way to involve anyone at ACM with involvement in K12. A way to get together, inform and support each others programs. Stephenson knows people are concerned and seeks input and guidance for how to do it best. It's an opportunity to benefit ACM and the entire constituency. Eydie Lawson made a request for a formal mechanism to keep one another aware of what's going on. Stephenson was confronted with getting the organization off the ground and hopes to work more aggressively to find that mechanism.

Is CSTA planning on involving ACM student chapters?
There are 5 ACM student chapters at the HS level but only 1 is active. At this time they're not looking at student involvement, they're really focusing on teachers.

What's the structure between ACM and CSTA - both SIGITE and SIGCSE feel that they can represent and focus on the needs of their respective groups within the structure of ACM. What's different for the HS constituency?
There are 2 primary issues: When we began talking about this idea 5 years ago as part of the K12 task force, it was clear that to succeed we needed to develop an organization at a national level that administrators would understand. Relevance and perception entered into the decision to have CSTA formed as it was. It is the right kind of structure to make an impact in this area but that doesn't mean there shouldn't be communication and coordination with the other parts of ACM. If you want to make change you look at models that have worked and you emulate them.

How are other organizations structured?
3 hugely successful - Math Assoc, Sci Teachers, and ISTE. k12 organizations, centrally located and staffed but with affiliate relationships with similar organizations at an international and state level. Have looked at all models and believe ISTE model would be most successful. CSTA already approached by state and international organizations so looking at building those relationships from the ground up.

How will CSTA sustain?
Membership is not and will not be sufficiently large enough to support a large organization. Corporate support, grants fro funding agencies, donations and other funding mechanisms will be required to survive long enough to have an impact. Building relationships and establishing credibility to secure grants and funding takes time. They need to move very quickly to get things done. The more funding you have, the more you seem to get. CSTA is starting to build relationships with funding sources and membership but they know they'll never sustain through membership.

What does the budget look like? What does $100K/year for 5 years do? What would you give up without it? 
That level of funding will allow CSTA to:

  1. Build relationships and partnerships. It is expected that CSTA reps will go and talk to them
  2. Produce a major publication
  3. Broad dissemination of the curriculum document
  4. Follow up meetings with change agents and stakeholders

The current CSTA funding allows some of these things but most of what they can do is narrow. They are unable to do broad based partnership building. Build relationships at the corporate funding structure level and educate them on why this program is beneficial to them. The $100K will provide funding for travel, publishing, printing, mailing and meetings.

Stephenson left the call.

Do we fund and what is the mechanism for funding over next 5 years?

Berenbaum reminded the TF members that the SGB always intended to support good works but for the last few years few were even suggested. The request to fund this program is not out of line for the SGB to consider.

Chesnais explained the various fund balances controlled by the SGB including the Small SIG Project Fund and the SGB fund balance. The money in the Small SIG Project Fund balance has been dwindling over the last several years and the SIGs are not putting money into it. A recommendation could be made to tap into the SGB fund balance but that's money we've accumulated with no way to replace. H. Walker wanted to know if there was money there, why does the allocation continue to go up? Chesnais explained that it's money that could be tapped into once but isn't enough to sustain any ongoing activity.

R. Walker and Berenbaum indicated that using the DL revenue to support this initiative is a good thing that could help us do this in an appropriate way for the 5 year period. The DL revenue return is much higher than the SGB expected and even after taking some of it for what it was originally intended (good works) the return is still more than the SGB expected as individual SIGs. Chesnais asked the group if there was consensus that this was the right thing to do.

Boucher Owens indicated that when an organization gives out money there should be a budget and a plan and she's uncomfortable making a recommendation without detailed information. She'd like to see these things in writing - the relationship of SIGs intimately involved, ed board as well as SGB. What are relationships how do they interact? What does the budget cover and what is the process for funding requests. Burke agreed that more budget and relationship details needed to be supplied.

Chesnais summarized the issue and actions:

We did not feel that we had enough concrete information available to allow us to come to a decision. As a result we are requesting 2 things from Chris:

  • Chris will be asked to provide this task force with a written budget proposal to work from when deciding if it is appropriate to provide the requested level of funding
  • Chris will also be asked to provide this task force with a proposal for how CSTA would establish formal relationships with the other ACM units focusing on education. We did note that these sorts of relationships are not formally established between all of the other ACM units devoted to educational issues at present.

Furthermore the SIGCSE and SIGITE representatives on the call felt that the structure that coordinates the educational activities at ACM was unlcear and, as a result, would like to request the following:

  • we request that the SGB recommend that the Ed Board be identified as the body to oversee and coordinate all educational activities at ACM (there was some concern expressed by Barbara on this issue without having looked into this with the SIGCSE executive committee)


  • Alain Chesnais
  • Eydie Lawson
  • Bob Walker
  • Donna Baglio
  • Hans Boehm
  • Janice Sipior
  • Chris Stephenson
  • Barbara Boucher Owens
  • Alan Berenbaum
  • Henry Walker
  • Mike Burke