We are grateful for our partnerships as critical friends and sponsors of our ongoing work to broaden participation in computing.
The Beauty and Joy of Computing
The Beauty and Joy of Computing (BJC) is a CS Principles (CSP) course developed at UC Berkeley for high school juniors through university non-majors. UC Berkeley, the Education Development Center (EDC) and NC State have collaborated to bring BJC to over 700 teachers nationwide. Since 2011, NC State has developed regional partnerships and a train-the-trainer model to offer professional development to over 600 high school teachers across the US. Through partnerships with EDC, the New York City Department of Education, and CSNYC, the NSF-funded BJC4NYC project has brought BJC to 100 high school teachers in New York City, the largest and one of the most diverse school districts in the country. Our guiding philosophy is to meet students where they are, but not to leave them there. BJC covers the big ideas and computational thinking practices in the AP CSP curriculum framework using an easy-to-learn blocks-based programming language called Snap!, and powerful computer science ideas like recursion, higher-order functions, and computability. Through the course, students learn to create beautiful images, and realize that code itself can be beautiful. Having fun is an explicit course goal. We take a “lab-centric” approach, and much of the learning occurs through guided programming labs that ask students to explore and play.
Expanding Computing Education Pathways
ACCESS participates in a national collaboration, Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP), a Broadening Participation in Computing Alliance funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), whose primary goal is to increase the number and diversity of students in the pipeline to computing and computing-intensive degrees. ACCESS joins the Commonwealth Alliance for Information Technology Education (CAITE) in Massachusetts, Georgia Computes! and South Carolina to share strategies and best practices to expand quality computing education pathways in California.
Code.org is a non-profit dedicated to growing computer science education by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Code.org’s vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer programming and that computer science should be part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses. To this end, Code.org advocates and lobbys for CS as a college preparatory, core credit (Math or Science) at the state and district levels. ACCESS collaborates with Code.org on this advocacy throughout California.
Computer Science Teachers Association
The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) is a membership organization that supports and promotes the teaching of computer science and other computing disciplines. CSTA provides opportunities for K–12 teachers and students to better understand the computing disciplines and to more successfully prepare themselves to teach and learn. CSTA has been supporting ACCESS since its inception, in exploring and informing issues in credentialing and professional development for computer science teachers in California.
Computing in the Core
Computing in the Core (CinC) is a non-partisan advocacy coalition of associations, corporations, scientific societies, and other non-profits to elevate computer science education to a core academic subject in K-12 education, giving young people the college- and career-readiness knowledge and skills necessary in a technology-focused society. CinC encourages awareness building activities, policy changes and research at national, state, and local levels to build a strong foundation for the future of computer science instruction. It will engage federal and state policy makers, educators, the public, and the media to meet these goals. ACCESS works with Computing in the Core in advocating for policy changes with respect to computer science education in California.
Exploring Computer Science
Exploring Computer Science (ECS) is a K-12/University partnership committed to democratizing computer science by creating a model curriculum, professional development for teachers and a repository of best practices that can be scaled up nationwide. ECS was developed in California via a partnership with UCLA, the Computer Science Teachers Association, and the National Science Foundation. ECS is currently being taught in high schools in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, as well as schools in major urban cities throughout the nation.
AP Computer Science: Principles
Launched in 2016-17, AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) had the most successful course launch in AP history and has led to a dramatic increase in the number of students from all backgrounds engaging in computer science and broadening career opportunities. Participation in APCSP among underrepresented student groups have all increased by more than 65% between 2017 and 2018; that includes females, African-American students, Latino students, American Indian students and rural students.
AP CSP introduces students to the foundational concepts of computer science and challenges them to explore how computing and technology impact the world. AP CSP is designed to attract a greater diversity of students, including those traditionally underrepresented in computer science, such as women and students of color, to the field. Through creative problem solving and real-world application, students become better prepared for college and career.
The AP CSP Curriculum Framework focuses on the innovative aspects of computing and the computational thinking that helps students make connections to their everyday lives. AP CSP is designed to open a pathway for students to continue studies in college-level STEM and computing courses, but also positions them for success in a wide variety of disciplines and industries. Students cultivate their understanding of computer science through working with data, collaborating to solve problems, and developing computer programs as they explore concepts like creativity, abstraction, data and information, algorithms, programming, the internet, and the global impact of computing.
Students do not need previous computer science experience to take this course. The only recommended prerequisite is to complete Algebra I.
AP computer science courses fulfill math and science high school requirements in California. AP CSP has been approved as a Laboratory Science (D) / Computer Science course and fulfills high school student requirements for University of California’s admissions. The course counts as a student’s 3rd or 4th recommended year of science.
In an effort to scale up equitable and sustainable computer science education in California, ACCESS was awarded a Research-Practice-Partnership grant from the NSF to create a Network Improvement Community (NIC) to build capacity among teachers, school leaders, and policymakers. This grant, titled SCALE-CA (Supporting Computing Access, Leadership and Equity in California), aims to contribute vital research, provide on-the-ground implementation experiences, and inform policy to support the expansion of equity-minded CS education across California.