Code.org Partnership Provides Schools with Free Computer Science Curriculum Materials

ksurd@wsesd.org's picture

Written by Kathy Surd, Director, Mason-Lake Oceana Mathematics and Science Center and General Education Coordinator, West Shore ESD. Kathy is also the Past-President, Michigan Mathematics and Science Centers Network

K-12 Computer Science Standards are currently being developed by a group of stakeholders led by the Michigan Department of Education. The committee will present draft standards to the State Board of Education (SBE) in January 2019. After the presentation to the SBE, the proposed standards will be posted for a period of public comment with a final presentation tentatively scheduled to the SBE in April 2019 for approval and adoption.

So, how can schools prepare now for success on these standards? The Code.org partnership in Michigan provides schools with free access to all curriculum materials for their K-12 program. Professional learning is also currently offered at no cost to Michigan educators. Here is an overview of what schools can expect:

Elementary—Computer Science Fundamentals

  • Curriculum is offered by grade level for grades K-5
  • One-day professional learning options can be scheduled year-round for a cohort of teachers

Middle School—Computer Science Discoveries

  • Curriculum is a best fit for sixth through ninth grades
  • Professional learning provides five days of summer training with four follow-up school-year workshops
  • The teachers in professional learning are part of a cohort
  • To qualify for the professional learning, schools need to commit to offering at least one semester of the CS Discoveries Course (50+ hours) in the fall of 2019
  • Applications for the professional learning program will become available in January 2019

High School—AP Computer Science Principles

  • Curriculum is a best fit for 10th – 12th grades
  • Professional learning provides five days of summer training with four follow-up school-year workshops
  • The teachers in professional learning are part of a cohort
  • To qualify for the professional learning, schools need to commit to offering at least two trimesters (or a full year for semester-based schools) of the CS Principles Course (100+ hours) in the fall of 2019
  • The Code.org AP Course Audit is available at no cost to schools and is pre-approved by the College Board
  • Schools can offer this course as an AP course or not. Schools using the AP option score higher on the professional learning application

Now is the right time for schools considering the middle school or high school program to get the courses in catalogs for the fall of 2019. When teachers apply in January, they will be asked if their school is committed to running the class in the fall. Only schools that commit to offering the class can have teachers in professional learning at no cost.

During the 2017-18 school year, 100 Michigan teachers were part of the Code.org secondary program; increasing to 200 participating in 2018-2019. This rate of growth is quickly increasing the number of AP CSP courses offered in the state. Sixty-five percent of Michigan students who took the AP CSP exam in 2018 were from classrooms taught by teachers in the Code.org professional learning program. For teachers in the Code.org professional learning program in 2018, 79% of their students who took the AP CSP assessment scored a 3 or higher on the assessment.

The AP CSP curriculum also fits with the Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program, which is a hands-on course operated by Microsoft Philanthropies that is team taught by training computer science professionals and classroom teachers. Teachers in the Code.org AP CSP program, like Zach Sweet from Detroit’s Renaissance High School, can also be engaged in TEALS. Sweet’s class alone showed a 225% increase between 2017 and 2018 in the number of African-American students who passed the AP CS Principles exam in the whole state of Michigan.

For information on code.org programs in Michigan, please contact me at ksurd@wsesd.org or visit www.mi-coding.com. There you can sign up to have an application emailed to you when they open in January. Apply early! Seats are limited and teachers are accepted on a rolling basis once applications become available.