“We cannot affect change at the high school level by working only in the high schools. We have to start younger, with all children, so that we can normalize computer science. Only then will it be something that we all do, rather than something that only a small subset of the population does.”
Jim Ryan, SFUSD’s Executive Director for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)
In grades PK-5, our primary goals are to expose all students to computer science in order to generate excitement and develop transferable skills. Every year, all students will receive about 20 hours of CS instruction. While it may be advantageous to have teachers begin teaching CS, many current teachers lack background knowledge and skills, and it would be challenging to train all classroom teachers in a new subject. Instead, centrally-hired and -developed itinerant specialists will push into elementary classrooms for about one hour per week for a semester to deliver content alongside the classroom teacher. On average, full-time itinerant specialists will be shared among two school sites. Most CS lessons will be integrated with literacy and math standards.
Each year in the middle grades, all students will take a quarter- or trimester-long enrichment course that is held during the elective periods. In these courses, students will develop the foundational knowledge and skills that will be necessary for their success in college and career. They will be challenged to think critically, use computing to solve real-world problems, and build upon their mathematical knowledge, as well as explore the societal impacts of computing. The quarter-long courses will be taught by dedicated CS specialists that are hired by school sites but developed and supported centrally. On average, comprehensive middle schools will dedicate 2.0 FTE to CS specialists, while K-8 schools will dedicated about 0.5 FTE.
We expect that exposure to engaging, relevant computer science instruction in earlier grade levels will greatly increase interest in pursuing CS at the high school level. In grades 9-12, students will elect whether to continue studying computer science. All students will have opportunities to take CS courses, no matter in which school they are enrolled. Furthermore, all schools will offer both introductory and advanced CS courses. Our goals are to greatly expand participation in CS courses and prepare students for further studies or work in college and career, but even more importantly, we seek to ensure that the students accessing CS mirror the diverse population of our schools, rather than the narrow population of the current tech workforce.
Draft Implementation Timeline
Our ultimate goal is to reach every child in the district, but we also recognize that this cannot happen overnight. We have already begun to actualize our commitment, by phasing in at the middle school level. In 2015-16, we are piloting a new middle grades CS course at 12 schools, reaching about one-third of all 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in the district. We expect to reach all middle grades schools in 2016-17. Learn more about our middle grades pilot here. Within the next few years, we aim to expand our program to all schools serving students in grades PK-8 and to all high schools.
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