As a recent report from the IT + CS Business Advisory Council reveals, America faces a growing demand for workers with IT and computer science skills. Unfortunately, this demand far exceeds the supply of such skilled workers. And the shortage of skilled workers begins long before individuals enter the workforce.
The shortage begins in K-12. Along with undeveloped (and underdeveloped) pathways in computer science and equity challenges, one of the most enduring challenges in overcoming the shortage is finding and training the professional cadre to teach computer science to our K-12 students. In fact, 56% of high school computer science teachers aren’t even certified in computer science.
Image Source: Medium.com/codeorg
Micro-credentials for Computer Science Teachers
A new report from Code.org attempts to help. The report, Micro-credentials: Addressing Certification and Professional Learning in Computer Science, identifies the following findings:
- The majority of computer science teachers do not have a formal computer science certification.
- Current pathways to certification are hard to find, arduous, costly, focused on content rather than pedagogy, and often irrelevant or inappropriate for teachers.
- Micro-credentials allow teachers to earn an endorsement in a way that is job-embedded, less expensive than coursework, and highly accessible.
- State and local education agencies should support the use of micro-credentials in professional learning and as an option for teachers seeking to earn a computer science endorsement.
Because there are few available avenues to demonstrate mastery of computer science teaching or certification, the report promotes the use and recognition of micro-credentials that authenticate when teachers have learned the computer science content and pedagogy to teach computer science to our students. This commonsense solution will help teachers master the skills they need to teach computer science by dramatically reducing the concerns about: teacher time; location, including a lack of access to computer science teacher pathways for rural teachers; and value to the teacher.
We ask a lot of our professional teachers. Let’s meet them where they are to help build their computer science teaching skills to the benefit of our students and ultimately our economy.
Please read the report and find out what you and your state can do to support and prepare computer science teachers. Ninety percent of parents want their students to study computer science, yet it is not a priority in K-12 education.
Let’s give students the learning opportunities families want and our nation’s employers need.
About the author
Lowell is the Director of College and Career Pathways for ExcelinEd. He previously served as Staff Director for the Florida Legislature’s Senate Committees on Education Pre-K-12 and Higher Education, where he helped create Florida’s industry certification incentive to create a nexus between education and the workforce. Lowell is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Vanderbilt University Law School. He also served in the U.S. Army. He lives in Rochester, MN with his wife and two kids.