The CS4TX Statewide Meeting, held in Houston on October 19, 2016, brought together education leaders, teachers, business leaders, policy makers, parents, and CS professionals to address the challenges we face in K-12 CS education as we work to bring about CS for All in Texas. This year’s event was sponsored by the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance.
The CS4TX Statewide Meeting was a great opportunity for teachers to meet leaders in the CS education field, learn about current initiatives to promote equity and access, and contribute to the conversation on pressing issues in K-12 CS education.
Innovative Specialist, Innovative Curriculum
Houston Independent School Distrcit
The meeting started with acknowledgement and recognition for educators who have already dedicated themselves to improving CS education in Texas, including Astra Zeno from Houston ISD’s Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy (YWCPA) who was named as NCWIT Houston Educator of the Year. She was joined by one of her students, Sadie Randall, who was part of the team of girls who won this year’s ABI.HOU FOSS Saturdays Codeathon. The evening’s featured speaker, Dr. Jennifer Wang, Google Computer Science Education Outreach Program Manager, shared results from a Google-Gallup research study on CS education. The presentation focused on the issue of diversity and representation, which is one of the major challenges facing proponents of CS education.
It was great to be able to share our latest data as a tool for the CS4TX group. They are a group of extremely motivated and passionate individuals who are working hard to make CS for all students in Texas a reality.
Jennifer Wang, Ph.D.
Program Manager, Computer Science Education Outreach
This was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Carol Fletcher, Deputy Director of UT Austin’s Center for STEM Education and head of its WeTeach_CS program. The panel of CS education leaders included, Ruthe Farmer of The White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, Dr. Richard Tapia of Rice University, Dr. Katie Hendrickson of Code.org, and Hal Speed of CS4TX. Having heard many of the challenges that face CS education, as educators and policy makers work towards CS for All, the panel focused on ideas and initiatives designed to address and overcome these issues. The crowd of over 100 gathered for the event, were engaged and enjoyed the opportunity to connect and share with others dedicated to the CS education cause. All left understanding the challenges CS education faces in Texas, but also motivated to work towards the goal of CS for All in Texas with the belief that this is a goal we can achieve.
Sitting in the audience it was obvious from their reactions that Texans are engaged in the broadening participation for all students discussion and that they want to strategically address the lack of access to CS education in K-12 as well as higher education. I spoke with multiple people who were on the bubble of CS education reform and wanted to know how they could do more to address the issues of equity and access in CS education through PD, volunteerism, mentoring and industry support. I left the meeting feeling hopeful. We have a long way to go before we reach CS for All but it is clear that the work in Texas is already impacting students, teachers and districts across your very large state.
Sarah Dunton, M.Ed.
Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance