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December 13, 2011 > Computer Science Education Week raises awareness

Computer Science Education Week raises awareness

Submitted By Brandon Thomas

While current labor projections show the creation of 800,000 new computing jobs by 2018, our nation's education system is doing little to prepare students for these future careers. Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) is celebrating its third year, December 4 - 10, on the need to build strong computer science education programs in schools, giving students the opportunity to explore this growing field and supporting the country's need for a workforce skilled in computing.

A main focus of this year's CSEdWeek is to demonstrate how local, grassroots efforts can raise the status and quality of computer science education. Fewer than ten states count high school computer science courses as a core academic subject in graduation requirements, and computer science education suffers from a lack of teacher professional development, quality curriculum, student diversity and teacher certification.

To address the challenges in computer science education, the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), founded by ACM (the Association for Computing Machinery), is releasing a revised version of its computer science education standards, CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards, during CSEdWeek. These learning standards, which have evolved from the models released in 2003 and 2006, will serve as a catalyst for widespread adoption of computer science education for all K-12 students.

"These standards represent the work of experts across all educational levels. They are our community's best effort to identify the computer science skills that students need at every stage of their K-12 education to ensure that they are prepared to thrive in the new global economy" said Chris Stephenson, Executive Director of CSTA. "We decided that the release of our standards should coincide with CSEdWeek because this week is all about celebrating the importance of computing and our commitment to ensuring that our students have the skills and knowledge they need."

To date, CSEdWeek has registered over 2,000 pledges of support by individuals, with support from organizations such as Microsoft, CA Technologies, Google, Change the Equation, National Science Foundation, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Inc. and the American Association of Engineering Education and others. Some of the local celebrations include:

The CSEdWeek website, -a Davey Award winning site-houses many resources and tools, including an event planning toolkit, suggestions for celebrations, reports and statistics, lesson plans, event listings across the U.S. and Canada, and links to the official CSEdWeek communities on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr among many others.

Building on a foundation of recent national-level progress on computer science education, the third annual CSEdWeek also aims to call attention to the support of the United States Congress through the introduction of the Computer Science Education Act in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

"At a time when the country is talking about jobs-where they are, and how to create them-the computing industry is desperate to fill thousands of vacancies," said Computing in the Core (CinC) Representative Della Cronin. "Computer science is where the jobs are, and through efforts such as CSEdWeek, we aim to eliminate misperceptions about the discipline and to educate young people, their parents, educators and others about how important it is to include computer science in K-12 education in this country."

Held the second week in December, CSEdWeek was established in 2009 by the CinC coalition in honor of Grace Murray Hopper, a pioneer in computer science, who was born on December 9, 1906. She engineered new programming languages and developed standards for computer systems that laid the foundation for many advances in computer science from the late 1940s through the 1970s. CSEdWeek is a collaborative activity of CinC, a non-partisan advocacy coalition of associations, corporations, scientific societies, and other non-profits that strive to elevate computer science education to a core academic subject in K-12 education.

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