New Va. high school to focus big on coding

By Louis Llovio, Richmond Times-Dispatch
December 16th, 2015

Students will enter an innovative program that teaches core graduation skills alongside industry internships and computer science

coding-schoolHigh school isn’t what it used to be.

That’s the consensus of a growing number of educators who say how and what students are taught must change in order to better prepare them for a rapidly changing workforce that demands new skills.

With that goal in mind, a group of 13 Richmond-area school systems have banded together to start a new regional high school that will allow students to meet their core requirements while getting an education focused on computer science.

The school, now known by the project name Richmond Regional School for Innovation-CodeRVA, is set to open next school year with a class of about 80 ninth-grade students.

The idea is to make sure graduates are better prepared to enter a job market that requires a set of skills not currently taught at schools. Skills, educators say, that are valuable even to students who don’t go into the computer science field.

Students at the new regional school will spend their freshmen and sophomore years taking core classes needed for graduation while also taking computer science and technology courses.

They will then spend their junior and senior years learning real-world job skills through internships while working toward earning a two-year degree from local community colleges.

“If you look at the history of high schools, the high school model of today was built 100 years ago,” said James F. Lane, superintendent of Goochland County Public Schools, who is leading the effort.

“We want to create a high school environment that’s more reflective of modern education and preparation for the modern workforce.”

In making the case for a $50,000 high school innovation planning grant for the new regional school, local officials cited research showing a high demand for software developers and system engineers.

Next page: How the coding-focused high school will operate