Broadening Student Participation in Secondary Computer Science Through Principled Assessment of Computational Thinking 

As part of the NSF-funded Principled Assessment of Computational Thinking (PACT) projects, SRI Education has been working with curriculum authors and teachers, assessment experts, and computer scientists to develop assessments for Exploring Computer Science (ECS). ECS is a new high school curriculum that focuses on developing students’ problem-solving and computational thinking skills.

ECS was designed to support the creation a more diverse pipeline to computer science education and careers by targeting urban high schools and expanding the participation of traditionally underrepresented students in introductory computer science. The goal of this effort is to increase the enrollment of women and minorities who remain underrepresented in those attaining computer science degrees and entering computer science careers.

The ECS curriculum is spreading rapidly in response to demand from school districts nationwide. Teachers implementing the curriculum need high-quality assessments of student learning so they can understand their students’ computational thinking skills and help students learn those skills. The SRI PACT team designed and developed assessment tasks that elicited students’ problem solving and inquiry skills in authentic contexts and gave them opportunities to represent their skills in their own words and ways. Continue reading about PACT and the ECS assessments.

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