Building a Coalition to Identify and Address Educator Challenges in CS Education

California’s blueprint to integrate computer science education across the curriculum in grades K-12 lays out a mission that all teachers will be adequately prepared to teach rigorous and relevant CS content aligned to state standards. As envisioned in the state’s Computer Science Strategic Implementation Plan (CSSIP), every student and teacher is capable of learning CS, providing infrastructure is in place, and educator support toward this end is critical.   

Helping students apply conceptual knowledge in computing technology as active innovators presents challenges, and Livable Wage Jobs (LWJ) and its partners are exploring strategies to ease the strain on teachers while building capacity for CS education. From co-designing ready-to-go formative assessment tools to measure student progress by grade level to facilitating hubs for teachers to test new ideas with mentors, professional learning should “emphasize both content and pedagogy to help teachers expand their understanding of CS concepts and pedagogical tools and assessments (Basu et al.). Integrative models that reinforce place-based education equip educators with skills and confidence to assess student learning, differentiate when needed, and continuously improve instruction. Cohesive professional learning builds in time for teachers to reflect on which CS concepts students typically struggle with the most. 

Case studies around the world show promise in creating educator hubs to build capacity, such as the National Center for Computing Education in England, which has trained more than 29,500 teachers in CS skills in the last three years (National Centre for Computing Education, 2020). LWJ and its experienced network connect teachers to evidence-based teaching methods that blend computerized lessons with offline activities to build student engagement, “usable knowledge” and creative problem solving transferable across future careers (Miller & Krajcik, 2019).