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K-12 Computer Science Teacher Preparation

Discussion prepared by Phil Sweany.

A widely held belief about our K-12 education system is that we lack qualified math and science teachers. And I certainly agree with that concern. One promising approach is to develop teacher certification programs that provide a 4-year course of study that includes both a 4-year disciplinary degree (in math or a science) and teacher preparation courses. The University of North Texas has adopted such a program, and I'm proud to say that I've been involved in that project as a member of the Teach North Texas (TNT) steering committee.

Compared to math and other sciences however, computer science education in K-12 is a largely neglected problem in our society. Relative to other sciences and math, the number of schools that include any computer science in graduation requirements is shockingly low. I believe there are two major reasons for this. One is that secondary schools have little idea of what computer science curriculum should include. Further, there is a woeful shortage of even marginally qualified secondary-school computer science teachers available. Obviously these two trends are related. To address this problem the National Science Foundation has sponsored the CS 10K program to prepare 10,000 teachers of computer science as soon as possible.

In an attempt to increase the number of qualified computer science teachers in secondary schools, UNT's CSE department has submitted a plan to prepare teachers of secondary computer science. I'm happy to say that, while this has taken some time, we anticipate receiving final state approval for this program in July 2013 and will officially be "enrolling" students into TNT to become teachers of computer science beginning in Fall 2013. Thus I am actively recruiting students to pursue computer science teaching credentials through the CSE department and TNT.

Two innovative high school computer science curricula that we plan to introduce to our computer science teacher graduates are

  • Exploring Computer ECS and
  • CS Principles CSP.

Anyone interested in joining our CS teacher preparation program should contact me, Phil Sweany, at Philip.Sweany@unt.edu.

As part of my efforts to prepare computer science teachers and improve both the curriculum and quality of instruction in high school computer science programs, I am a member of a professional organization, Computer Science Teachers Association that is focused on improving CS education at all levels.

Much of the above information and a great deal more can now be accessed from one website, namely CS10K Community.