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Rhode Island’s ambitious computer science goal

By Linda Borg, The Providence Journal
March 10th, 2016

computer science

‘CS4RI’ initiative aims for computer science to be taught in every R.I. public school by Dec. 2017

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has announced a comprehensive computer science education initiative in partnership with Microsoft, Code.org, colleges and universities across Rhode Island, and others.

Computer Science for Rhode Island (CS4RI) brings together the following partners, including Microsoft TEALS, Code.org, Project Lead the Way, Brown University’s Bootstrap, and University of Rhode Island’s computer science curricula for high school, which will offer eight options for schools to expand education in kindergarten through grade 12.

This effort is coordinated by the Rhode Island Innovation Office at Rhode Island College, in partnership with the RI STEM Center at Rhode Island College and the Rhode Island Department of Education.

CS4RI combines national leadership with homegrown talent, Raimondo said. The focus is on curriculum, software, and professional development for educators.

CS4RI, Raimondo said, will help provide quality computer science education and professional development to all Rhode Island schools in the years ahead. The goal is to have the subject taught in every public school by December 2017. Governor Raimondo’s current budget proposal includes $260,000 to expand the availability of computer science education in Rhode Island’s schools.

The initiative also calls for the creation of a pilot teacher computer science boot camp in Rhode Island.

“Our kids deserve the best opportunities in the 21st century tech-driven economy, so we need to do everything we can to help them get ahead by developing the skills that matter,” Raimondo said. “Part of turning our economy around and creating jobs is making sure every student, at every level, has access to the new basic skill: computer science. Thanks to the partners we have assembled for this initiative, I know we can achieve this goal.”

By 2022, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training projects that there will be more than 4,000 openings in computer and math jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the median annual wage for computer and IT jobs is about $80,000.

“We must ensure all students have the skills they need to compete in today’s innovation economy and that means making computer science much more accessible for all learners,” Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said. “President Obama’s budget includes funding for states and districts to increase access to computer science by providing training for educators, expanding access to high-quality instructional materials, and building effective regional partnerships. By offering [it] in every public school and every grade, Rhode Island has become the latest state to lead the way in offering computer science for all.”

“Digital technology is democratizing access to knowledge and opportunity at a rapid pace.
Computational thinking and problem-solving skills are critical to every job in the future,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said. “We aim to empower every educator and student in the State of Rhode Island to prepare for this future by fostering new levels of collaboration and creativity in the classroom through computer science education.”

“Rhode Island today joins a short list of states leading the country in embracing computer science,” Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi said. “We are proud to partner with Governor Gina Raimondo and CS4RI to prepare teachers to introduce the state’s youngest learners to foundational computer science skills. This initiative is an important step in opening doors for today’s generation of Rhode Island students, readying them to pursue the best opportunities in today’s high-tech economy, in every field.”

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