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Expanding Access to Computer Science Education in Alabama:
A+ Advocacy and Practice

 

Alabama is a national leader in K-12 computer science education. A+ Education Partnership and our program, A+ College Ready, have worked to build a growing, equitable computer science education infrastructure statewide. We have led the way to ensure that students are being taught the skills they need to succeed in college, career, and life. In 2019, our advocacy was successful in passing the Computer Science Bill, which requires every K-12 school to offer a high-quality computer science course. By 2022, Alabama will officially offer a computer science course in every grade from Kindergarten to 12th grade as a result of both our statewide advocacy and programmatic work. 

Why is Computer Science Education Important?

Computing is now a foundational skill for success.

Computing is becoming the third most important literacy following reading and math. It develops students’ computational and critical thinking skills and teaches them how to create and use new technologies. A survey from Code.org found that 90% of parents want their child’s school to teach computer science. Additionally, 67% of parents and 57% of teachers believe students should be required to learn computer science.

It prepares students for a modern, changing workforce.

Computing jobs are the largest source of new wages and comprise half of the new jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields in the United States, according to Code.org. This year in Alabama, there are approximately 5,800 open computing jobs in sectors like cyber security, data analysis, and manufacturing with an average salary of over $80,000 a year. This number will only grow over time as technology continues to change not only the economy but our everyday lives. 

Computer Science Expansion History

 

Computer Science Access by the Numbers

3,389

total teachers have been trained by A+ College Ready since 2016

2,358

elementary teachers trained

477

middle school teachers trained

350

high school teachers trained

21,819

middle school students were enrolled in computer science courses in the 2021-2022 school year

10,756

high school students in CS courses in 2021-2022 school year

 

 

Equity in Computer Science Education

Prior to the passage of the 2019 Computer Science Bill, it was not required for schools to offer computer science courses. There were fewer pathways for teachers to become certified to teach these courses, and training for teachers was not readily subsidized by the state, making it cost-prohibitive for many local districts. Districts with more resources were able to offer these courses to their students while districts with high-poverty populations could not.

With the passage of this legislation, the state made a commitment to equity in computer science education. It required schools to offer courses, created more pathways for educators to become certified to teach these courses, and was coupled with state funding to support teacher training.

As a result, computer science courses became much more accessible to all students statewide. The requirement coupled with targeted resources to help schools adapt to this need continues to create a much more equitable infrastructure, ensuring that students in poverty, students of color, and female students have an opportunity to access computer science education. In fact, as of 2021, no computer science participation disparities exist for students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in Alabama according to the 2021 State of Computer Science Education: Accelerating Action Through Advocacy.

Preparing the Teacher Workforce

In order to successfully expand computer science courses statewide, Alabama must have a highly-trained, prepared teacher workforce ready to teach these courses. The 2019 Computer Science Bill created more pathways for teachers - and industry professionals looking to become teachers - to become certified to teach computer science courses. Additionally, our A+ College Ready has developed high-quality, content-specific teacher training for each of the computer science courses offered in Alabama's schools (listed below) along with a "Praxis Prep" course to prepare teachers for the certification exam. To date, A+ College Ready has trained over 3,000 computer science teachers statewide.

Computer Science Course Pathways for Students

By 2022, an Alabama student will be able to engage in computer science coursework every year from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade. A+ College Ready has developed teacher training for each of these courses. (LINK TO CR COURSES SUPPORTED PAGE)

Grades K - 5:   Computer Science Fundamentals

Grade 6:           Computer Science Endeavors (under development)

Grade 7:           Computer Science Discoveries Alabama

Grade 8:           Computer Science & Society

Grades 9/10:  Computer Science Horizons (under development)

Grade 11:          AP Computer Science Principles

Grade 12:         AP Computer Science A

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