The Next Big Policy Innovation: Fixing the K-12 CS Teacher Pipeline

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With skyrocketing interest in computer science courses by students and record enrollment in CS courses, schools and states are looking to expand CS course offerings. The question they are asking themselves is: Where are the teachers going to come from to teach these courses? Part of the answer to that is increased funding for professional learning and part of that is fixing teacher certification and preservice programs.

In 2015, only 51 college graduates across the country received an initial teaching certification in computer science (source: 2015 Title II Reports). Thus far, most CS teachers are already certified teachers in another content area who become CS teachers later. But this isn’t sustainable — we need to support teacher preparation institutions to develop programs in CS education so that teachers graduate ready to teach computer science.

The teaching force puzzle boils down to two main issues:

1. Teacher certification

Without certification, there is confusion and no guarantee that teachers have the knowledge and skills to teach the course; but if the certification is too rigorous, then very few teachers will become certified. So one of the most common questions we get from teachers and state officials is, “what should teacher certification look like?”

2. Preservice teacher preparation

Due to the rapid expansion of CS courses and the dearth of teacher preparation programs in CS, it’s important for states to realize that there is a need to slowly implement a series of initiatives to scale the teaching force quickly while ensuring that those teachers are qualified.

Our new whitepaper breaks down CS teacher pathways into a series of recommended immediate, short term, and long term suggestions for both developing teacher certification and creating a teacher preparation pipeline.

Highlights include:

  • Immediate steps that states can take to build a CS-certified teaching force, including issuing temporary licenses
  • Considerations for states to create add-on endorsements for teachers who are already certified in another subject
  • Steps for states to consider when developing full certification pathways in CS education
  • Ideas for preservice teacher preparation programs to include CS content in all preservice teacher educational technology courses and develop dual-certification pathways
  • Two examples of innovative state licensure systems for computer science (Arkansas and Utah)

Read the full whitepaper, Recommendations for States Developing Computer Science Teacher Pathways, here.

Katie Hendrickson,

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