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L.A. Unified makes computer science accessible

With President Obama calling math and science education the key to good jobs in our future economy, Congress was told May 20 that a pilot program in Los Angeles schools has started to show promising results in computer science, reports the Los Angeles Times. Over the last five years, the program — which was established in six schools and focused on persuading more students to enroll in computer technology classes — doubled the number of African American students taking Advanced Placement computer science and tripled the numbers of Latinos and females. Although only a handful of schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District were involved, researchers said the results were so promising that the program would soon be expanded into 20 more schools. Joanna Goode, assistant professor of education at the University of Oregon and a co-leader of the program, said the key to changing student attitudes was demonstrating that what seemed like a distant subject was already at the center of their lives. "Computer science is the iPhone. It is social networking and downloading MP3s," she said. If schools approach the subject as a way to study how technology powers "the things they already do for fun, it is much more effective."

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