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Computer Science Teacher Training Initiative

A significant driver behind the disparities in computer science education is the need for qualified instructors. Over the next 5-10 years, we aim to endorse hundreds of teachers in computer science and support hundreds more through ongoing professional learning activities so that every Illinois high school is equipped with a qualified CS teacher.

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Illinois is behind:

  • Today, there is no pathway to licensure for prospective CS teachers, and most of the state’s CS teachers do not have any formal endorsement or certification in CS education and have never taken a college-level CS course.
  • Only 15% of the more than 1,000 high schools in Illinois offer AP CS courses, largely because of a shortage of CS instructors.
  • Illinois is expected to officially establish statewide CS learning standards in 2021, but many school districts will struggle to implement them without support in training and endorsing teachers in CS.

We urgently need to address the disparities that exist in CS education in Illinois, which, make no mistake, is a social justice issue. And we need to start with the quality, delivery, and accessibility of K-12 computer science instruction in Illinois.

Our Plan

We are partnering with the College of Education at UIUC, Chicago Public Schools, other universities, nonprofits, and companies to improve the way computer science is taught in Illinois.

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Professional Development

DPI offers professional development workshops for educators that focus on current gaps in existing PD offerings, such as AR/VR, Cybersecurity, Data Science, Game Programming and Design, and Text-Based Programming.

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Undergraduate Teacher Licensure

It is critical for teacher preparation programs in the state to produce dedicated CS teachers. In partnership with UIUC’s College of Education, a pre-service, undergraduate licensure will be developed and vetted by the State Board of Education.

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CS Course Expansion

Working with statewide policymakers, school administrators, and educators, we will expand the number of schools offering computer science courses and more advanced courses (including Advanced Placement CS A and CS Principles).

Landscape Report of K-12 Computer Science Education in Illinois

With funding from the CME Group Foundation, our partners at UIUC’s College of Education conducted a comprehensive study among K-12 teachers and school and district-level administrators throughout the state on computing education.

The report uncovered data points including current CS course offerings, teachers’ qualifications, disparities in access to CS education, and perceived barriers to providing CS courses in Illinois schools. The research team, led by Dr. Raya Hegeman-Davis, notes that educators and administrators indicated the lack of trained CS teachers and the need for funding to train in-service teachers as the greatest barriers to offering CS courses in their schools.

This landscape report also highlighted the critical need for teacher certification programs, including both pre-service and in-service endorsement programs, as well as funding support for professional development for current teachers, especially in rural school districts. These and other findings establish a baseline for DPI’s goals and will be used to inform the necessity, relevance, and trajectory of our teacher-focused programming activities and funding initiatives.