The digital divide is one of the country's most challenging civil rights issues. The CS4NorCal project acts on this issue by equipping hundreds of rural educators with the skills to teach computer science so their students are prepared for 21st-century jobs.
Tim Taylor ~ Executive Director ~ Small School Districts' Association
CS4NorCal Project Goals
In collaboration with the Sacramento County Office of Education and other partners, SSDA will:
Deliver in-depth professional development in computer science concepts, practices, and pedagogy for elementary, middle and high school teachers, and school and district leadership.
Implement an engaging multi-year computer science curriculum pathway, including opportunities for integration with math and science instruction, in grades K-12 at participating schools.
Provide work-based learning and postsecondary transition activities to give students the opportunity to explore and prepare for CS-related careers.
Demonstrate a commitment to growing and sustaining computer science instructional experiences, courses and pathways
Benefits of Participation
Participating teachers will receive intensive compensated professional learning and, if desired, opportunity to earn CEUs and/or CS micro-credentials.
Educators will receive support to develop a regional CS network
Schools will receive nationally validated, online CS curriculum and jump-start their efforts to integrate CS into their regular instructional program.
Schools will gain support to add elective courses and/or integrate standards-aligned CS instructional units into their math and science curriculum and increase the real-world relevance and application of Common Core math and Next Generation Science Standards.
Schools will have have opportunities to provide students with CS-relevant experiences through Work-based Learning and College- and Career-Readiness activities.
Students will be better prepared to succeed in postsecondary education and 21st-century careers.
Further benefits by grade span are described here.
CS4NorCal Addresses Challenges Rural Educators Face to Implement CS Pathways
CS4NorCal addresses the need to prepare more students to meet the demand for workers in CS and STEM careers and the need to build regional capacity to support CS program implementation and professional learning in small rural school districts.
Meeting the demand for a skilled workforce
Nationally, there are 1.4 million CS jobs but only 400,000 qualified applicants to fill them.
Higher education cannot produce enough CS graduates to meet demand; only 3% of graduates have a CS degree.
In CA, CS instruction is the exception, not the norm. Statewide, only 45% of high schools offer at least one CS course. In the 6 targeted CS4NorCal counties, only 32% of high schools offer at least one CS course. Meanwhile elementary school CS, if provided, likely is an extended-day activity.
Program and professional learning in rural areas
A lack of access to CS/STEM instruction and opportunities in high-need rural areas inhibits potential college and career opportunities for students in high-demand industry sectors. Also, small rural districts and schools face unique challenges when implementing new initiatives: geographic isolation, limited resources and lack of specialized expertise. The county office of education often is the sole source of professional learning, but may lack the capacity and expertise to support efforts to support educators with building CS knowledge and skills.