The push for computer science education and computational thinking in K-12 schools is spreading across the nation, but many districts struggle with equity issues as they ensure economically disadvantaged students and students with special needs have access to the same resources.
Springfield (MA) Public Schools (SPS) is committed to ensuring all students in the district are able to learn computer science and computational thinking, and during a CoSN 2019 session, Paul Foster, the district’s chief information officer, outlined how SPS is taking steps to ensure equity of access for all students.
“While we’re in this movement of computer science for all, what happens to districts like Springfield?” Foster asked, noting the district’s 21.9 percent special education and 77 percent economically disadvantaged rates. “The suburbs are always out in front and they always go faster than us. If we want to broaden participation in the computer science field, it’s districts like Springfield where we have to get ahead of the curve.”
SPS is in the middle of a multi-year process focusing not just on computer science education in its classrooms, but on expanding diversity in computer science and identifying the best ways to help administrators and teachers become comfortable with teaching the concepts of computer science and computational thinking.