How Arkansas Implemented Its Computer Science Education Program
Computer Science Education (CS) helps students develop skills such as computational thinking, problem solving, and collaboration, among others. It has been linked to higher college enrollment rates (Brown & Brown, 2020; Salehi et al., 2020), and a recent randomized controlled trial study also found that computational thinking lessons improved inhibition of student response, planning, and coding skills (ArfÃ© et., 2020). As these skills take preeminence in the rapidly evolving 21st century, computer science education promises to dramatically improve students’ preparation for the future of work and active citizenship. Computer science education can also reduce skills inequality if education systems make a concerted effort to ensure that all students have equitable access to programs that provide them with the range of skills they need, regardless of their gender. , their ethnic origin or their socio-economic status.
Based on a prior analysis and expert consultation, we have selected 11 national, state and provincial case studies on computer science education with lessons that can be widely applied to others. education systems. These cases come from various regions and global circumstances and have implemented computer education programs for various time periods and at different levels of success. As such, we reviewed the information to draw lessons that could lead to a successful implementation. This study will focus on the development of computer science education in Arkansas.
While this American state is not generally known for its technological advancements, the governor’s strong leadership has led to a rapid and inclusive expansion of computer education, garnering praise from the media and advocacy groups (Nix, 2017). Code.org, the Computer Science Teachers’ Association (CSTA) and the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance even noted in their 2019 State of Computer Science Education report that Arkansas has the highest share of schools. secondary schools that teach computer science (89 percent) of any U.S. state (State of Computer Science Education, 2020). The state also received the Frank Newman Award for Innovation from the State Education Commission in 2020 for its CS education initiative (CS for all, 2020). Given this recognition, the state’s computer education programs deserve careful consideration, as other education systems aim for similar outcomes.
An Overview of Computer Science Education in Arkansas
With steady funding, bipartisan political support, and strong executive leadership, Arkansas has made significant strides in improving computer science education since Governor Hutchinson’s administration began in 2015. To help To guide key policy decisions, Governor Hutchinson appointed task forces that included representatives from teachers’ associations, businesses and government agencies. These stakeholders provided influential advice to policy makers on teacher recruitment and training, student engagement activities, and curriculum standards.
The state has introduced incentives for participation in computer education programs. Since 2015-16 school year, students were able to use computer classes to meet high school science and math requirements, which helped Arkansas be successful growing number of registrations and improving the diversity of CS classes (State of Computer Science Education, 2019; Associated press, 2021). Arkansas has also developed a CS certification for in-service and pre-service teachers that encourages educators to participate in training programs (Code.org, 2017; Lang, Galanos, Goode, Seehorn, Arbres, Phillips & Stephenson, 2013). This is one of the most important aspects of this case study, as research has shown that teachers are one of the most important academic factors in student learning in core academic subjects (Chetty Friedman, & Rockoff, 2014; Rivkin, Hanushek and Kain, 2005). We postulate that this also applies to CS.
- Political leadership and stakeholder support are essential to gain legislative approval and funding for activities that expand quality computer education.
- Clear certification paths, financial incentives and career advancement opportunities encourage teachers to take teacher training.
- A team of full-time administrators working with a working group of industry representatives, teachers and parents can enable decision-makers to consider stakeholder needs and accelerate program improvement. CS.
- Offering computer science in every school and allowing elective computer courses to meet high school graduation and college admission requirements can encourage students to explore their interest in computer science.
- By offering computer education to children from an early age, education systems can enable students to develop a strong interest in the subject and prepare them for advanced courses in high school. This progression throughout the K-12 years may inspire students most interested in majoring in CS.
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