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Teacher Training Initiative

A significant driver behind the disparities in computer science education is the need for qualified instructors.

Thus, a foremost strategy to increase student access, participation, and engagement in CS learning and career opportunities is through building teacher capacity

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 10% 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 establish statewide CS learning standards in December 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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Preservice Licensure in CS Education

It is critical for the long-term health of CS education in Illinois for teacher preparation programs to continue producing dedicated CS teachers.  DPI is developing a pathway to licensure for undergraduate students to teach computer science and, ultimately, build a dedicated funnel of qualified teachers.

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Advanced CS Course Offerings

Of the CS courses offered in Illinois, more than 80% are introductory or beginner-level courses; only 10% of all school districts offer Advanced Placement CS courses.  Through building teacher capacity, DPI is working to address the greatest barrier to the provision of CS courses, especially in rural areas: a shortage of qualified CS teachers.

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.

Read the Full Report