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NMSI-led Coalition Commits to Providing School Supports for Computer Science Learning Across Courses and Grade Levels

The new approach, launching in three military-connected Texas communities, will be incorporated into NMSI’s widely recognized College Readiness Program

DETROIT – Oct. 9, 2018 – Speaking at the annual CSforALL Summit, the National Math and Science Initiative today announced a collaborative effort to enable K-12 schools to expand student access to computer science by incorporating its lessons across classes and grade levels.

Computer science often is mistaken as a course exclusively focused on computer coding. In fact, computer science also teaches computational thinking – the process of breaking down large problems or data sets, recognizing patterns, reorganizing information and testing potential solutions.

“From scientists to farmers, everyone is inundated with valuable information these days, and that’s only increasing,” said Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr., NMSI’s CEO and a history-making astronaut. “Computational thinking is critical to successfully processing all that information and outside of work, the ability to break down seemingly large problems contributes to personal and civic wellbeing. NMSI is dedicated to expanding access to high-quality education and this new collaborative work will contribute to those efforts.”

The new support for schools, launching in 2019, is backed by seven national educational groups and has initial funding from the Dallas-based O’Donnell Foundation. It will start with training for teachers in three San Antonio districts that participate in NMSI’s College Readiness Program through support from the Department of Defense. The support will be available to any school in NMSI’s CRP beginning in the 2020-21 school year.

“NMSI’s College Readiness Program is known for creating immediate and long-lasting benefits through unique teacher training and year-round support for participating teachers and schools,” said Kimberly Hughes, director of the UTeach Institute, which houses UTeach Computer Science. “We signed onto this coalition because we’re confident that incorporating computer science across classes and grade levels is the right approach to improving access and because we’re confident in the CRP model.”

In addition to its commitment to helping schools incorporate computer science across curriculum and grade levels, the coalition will work with schools to customize their approach, including the option for stand-alone computer science courses where that fits.

Across the country, state and local education leaders acknowledge the importance of computer science but wrestle with whether and how to incorporate it into high school graduation requirements. In some states,
computer science can be used to meet language requirements for graduation. In others, it can be used as a math or science credit. None of those solutions are considered ideal because students are forced to choose between computer science and advanced language, math or science courses.

“By helping schools incorporate computer science across courses and grade levels, we are increasing students’ opportunities to develop these skills within the context of the math, science, arts and language courses they already are taking,” said Emmanuel Schanzer of Bootstrap. “Education research confirms that students and teachers excel when classwork is tied to familiar experiences. This approach supports that type of learning.”

In addition to UTeach Computer Science and Bootstrap, the coalition includes Exploring Computer Science, MIT App Inventor, Mobile CSP, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), and Project GUTS.

About NMSI

Founded in 2007, NMSI's mission is to advance STEM education to ensure all students, especially those furthest from opportunity, thrive and reach their highest potential as problem solvers and lifelong learners. The nonprofit organization helps develop new STEM teachers through its Teacher Pathways programs, and supports schools, teachers and AP® students through Laying the Foundation and the College Readiness Program. Learn more at nms.org.

Media Contact
Juan Elizondo, NMSI, jelizondo@nms.org, 214-346-1249