Through a partnership with nonprofit Nextech and a collaboration with Apple, the Metropolitan School District (MSD) of Decatur Township in Indiana became the first school district in the state to implement a K-12 Computer Science Pathway.

MSD of Decatur Township is a diverse, nationally recognized school district that uses an innovative and personalized, small-learning community approach. The entire district offers multiple learning pathways to its students, encouraging a deeper, more applicable learning environment.

An Exciting, New Computer Science Program

This new program gives all district students the opportunity to develop a foundation of computer science knowledge and learn new approaches to problem solving, creativity and critical thinking in a world that is increasingly influenced by technology.

Throughout the Decatur Township school system, more than 200 middle and high school students have enrolled in three different computer science courses covering topics ranging from simple design, coding and strategies to more technical courses including app development, cyber security and database analytics.

That number is expected to grow, as the district’s nonprofit partner Nextech typically sees an average of a 580 percent increase in student enrollment over a three-year period.

How the Program Works

Nextech connects educators, nonprofits and entrepreneurs to deliver K-12 computer science education and work-based learning programs with the end goal of inspiring and enabling students from all backgrounds to pursue careers in technology. Nextech’s training program serves as more than just an educational workshop, and instead offers a continuous, year-long professional development program that provides teachers with the content, instructional strategies and real-world context needed to teach computer science.

Prior to this school year, nearly 150 Decatur Township teachers participated in Nextech’s training on a variety of computer science-related topics and were provided with additional content knowledge, instructional strategies, industry experience and resources to deliver the district’s new computer science curriculum to students. The training sessions required a rigorous 74-hour commitment where teachers learned the ins and outs of the Code.org curriculum and received a first-hand look into the computer science industry. In addition, Decatur elementary and middle school teachers underwent intensive training to learn how to seamlessly incorporate basic computer science skills into their existing curriculum and lesson plans.

(Next page: Leading the pack in computer science programs with more partnerships; innovative curriculum)

About the Author:

Nate Davis is assistant superintendent of schools at MSD of Decatur Township. He has an extensive background in education and is dedicated to 21st century learning. Nate believes in developing compassionate leadership in others, while possessing the relentless drive to close the achievement gap for Decatur township students and helping each community member realize the potential they have for success. For more information on Decatur Township, please visit www.decaturproud.org.