CS4NorCal Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is CS4NorCal?
A: CS4NorCal is a unique 5-year regional research and innovation project sponsored by the California Small School Districts' Association to create K-12 computer science pathways in small rural schools in 6 northern California counties: Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta and Siskiyou. Through 2024-2025, CS4NorCal is an opportunity for education leaders from county offices of education, districts and schools to investigate and design implementation models to integrate the 2018 state CS standards into their educational programs and provide students with access to one of the core subjects of a “well-rounded” education.
With guidance from the Sacramento County Office of Education, local planning teams are co-designing professional learning and school implementation models. Researchers from the University of California at Davis are evaluating the process to inform the refinement of a high-quality product that can be replicated in similar rural communities. Educators are participating in up to 3 years of compensated professional learning and have formed a regional CS community of practice in conjunction with the Far North Chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association. Schools receive access to no-cost or low-cost, nationally-validated, standards-aligned CS curriculum. Community partners will integrate CS pathways into postsecondary preparation and workforce development initiatives.
For more information: CS4NorCal One-Pager
Q: How can I/my school participate?
A: SSDA is recruiting school teams from Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta and Siskiyou counties. No prior experience with computer science is necessary! Each team will include at least 2 teachers and an administrator. At the high school level, the team also will include a counselor. Schools will commit to implementing CS instruction across at least 2 grade levels.
Participants -- up to 265 teachers -- will be assigned to one of four cohorts:
Pilot (3 years starting in summer 2021)
Expansion (3 years starting in summer 2022)
Comparison 1 (2 years starting in summer 2023)
Comparison 2 (1 year, starting in summer 2024)
Please complete a CS4NorCal Interest Form whether you want to participate or just learn more about participating. Click here to access a printable Invitation to Participate flyer to share with your colleagues.
Q: Is there a cost to participate?
A: Because CS4NorCal is funded by a federal grant, SSDA will cover costs associated with participation. All professional learning activities -- including summer boot camps, academic year workshops, quarterly communities of practice and ongoing technical assistance -- will be free of charge. Access to all of the nationally validated, standards-aligned curriculum will be provided at no cost or low cost. SSDA will provide stipends to teachers who participate in the project.
Q: What will the amount of the stipend be for participating teachers?
$175 for completion of each day-long (6-hour) workshop session
ES PL experience is 5 days/year for up to 2 years
HS PL experience is 10 days/year for up to 2 years
$100/community of practice meeting; up to 10/year (stipend)
$100/year to provide data for the study outside of PL time (gift card)
Occasional $100 gift cards for participating in special activities
For more information, click here.
Q: What are the expectations of schools and teachers?
A: Participating schools and teachers in each cohort will commit to providing computer science instruction, at a minimum of:
30 hours a year for students in grades K-5
50 hours a year for students in grades 6-8
300 hours during a student’s enrollment in grades 9-12
Computer science instruction may occur across a variety of experiences and settings (e.g., integrated with math or science, standalone electives or technology class, CTE pathway, extended-day events or summer school). CS pathways also will include work-based learning and college- and career-readiness activities pertaining to computer science.
Q: Is the 30-hour instructional requirement for grades K-5 30 hours per grade level?
A: Yes, that is the intent. There may be variations for multi-grade courses. We will measure whether you/your school are able to hit that target in the second year of participation. (We do hope that you will offer some CS instruction during your first year.) It’s important for students to receive instruction each year.
Q: What are the benefits of participating?
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 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.
Q: What is computer science (CS)?
A: Put simply, computer science (CS) is learning how to use the power of computers to solve problems. It’s the study of computers and algorithmic processes, their principles, their designs, their applications, and their impact on society. CS core concepts provide foundational knowledge of computing principles, giving students opportunities to develop as logical thinkers who carefully weigh the societal and cultural impacts of computing, promote inclusion and celebrate diversity.
Computer science is:
A standards-based discipline
A theory and practice that allows you to program a computer to do what you want it to
A tool that helps you tell a story or make something happen with technology
A discipline that emphasizes persistence in problem solving — a skill that is applicable across disciplines, driving job growth and innovation across all sectors of the workforce
A skill that teaches students how to use computers to create, not just consume
Computer science is NOT:
Learning how to type or use a mouse
Learning to use word processing, spreadsheet, or presentation software (e.g., Word, PowerPoint, Google Docs & Drive)
Learning how to build or repair computers
Playing video games
SmarterBalanced (SBAC) skills
~ adapted from CS First
Q: Why is K-12 CS education important?
A: CS teaches problem solving and important skills like communication, collaboration, and design. CS is an essential component of a broad and comprehensive education, a core competency that is increasingly important in a world where computing is ubiquitous. There are tremendous career opportunities, and CS is relevant to all career pathways. Digital technologies are largely responsible for the global connectivity of the economy.
This fundamental knowledge prepares students to flourish as 21st-century workers and citizens, regardless of their ultimate field of study or occupation. CS permeates many aspects of daily life and big data, software, and the Internet are integrated into businesses and products throughout society. The knowledge and skills learned from studying CS prepare students for careers in many sectors, including manufacturing, healthcare, retail, graphic arts and management of natural resources. A computer science education prepares youth to enter a high-demand, high-wage workforce.
Q: What is a CS pathway?
A: A CS pathway is a multi-grade sequence of instruction aligned with the California CS standards that prepares a student to pursue CS/STEM post-secondary study and careers. The pathway can be integrated into the master schedule in a variety of configurations. For example, instruction can be integrated with math or science content, offered as a standalone elective or technology class, featured in a CTE pathway, and/or supported by extended-day events or summer school). Click on this link for more information about the potential components of a CS pathway: Sample Computer Science Pathways
Q: Can a school offer a push-in or lab instructional approach?
A: Yes, schools can offer CS instruction through a push-in or lab model.
Q: Can a paraprofessional or classified employee participate in the project and as part of a school’s CS instructional delivery model?
A: Yes, a paraprofessional or classified employee may participate as a part of a professional learning team from a school (which might include certificated instructors, counselors, and administrators).
Q: What curriculum is available for CS content?
A: CS4NorCal will provide free access to a variety of high quality, free or low-cost, industry-validated CS curriculum. Resources include:
CS Fundamentals from Code.org
CS First, from Google for Education
Scratch Jr Extension and Scratch Encore, from MIT
Middle school grades:
CS Discoveries, from Code.org
Bootstrap Algebra, from Brown University (integrating CS and algebra)
High school grades:
Exploring CS, from UCLA and the University of Oregon
CS Principles & AP CS Principles, from Code.org
AP Computer Science A, from the College Board
Click on this link for a flow chart of the CS curricular options: Curriculum Pathway
CS4NorCal will provide professional learning workshops for all products listed here.
Q: What are the elements of CS4NorCal’s professional learning model?
A: CS4NorCal’s professional learning model includes 10 days of summer and academic year workshops across 2 years for elementary school teachers and up to 20 days of summer and academic year workshops across 2 years for middle and high school teachers. Also, participating teachers may access quarterly community of practice meetings affiliated with the Far North chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association and on-going technical assistance and coaching. Click here for more information about the professional learning model.
Q: What will be the focus of the Summer of CS workshops?
A: During the Summer of CS, a statewide program, participants will experience a deep induction into CS content and pedagogy. During the second summer, they also will learn about other elements of a CS pathway, including data science and equity-minded instructional CS approaches.
Q: How do I register for 2023 Summer of CS workshops?
A: Registration information for the 2023 Summer of CS workshops is available on the CS4NorCal home page: Home .
Q: I am a high school math teacher. Which summer course is most likely to identify math curriculum in CS?
A: Both Exploring Computer Science and Computer Science Principles have connections to math. Also, a math integration workshop for all CS curricula is offered during the academic year and the second summer institute includes workshops for Bootstrap Algebra and Bootstrap Data Science.
Exploring Computer Science is more focused on CS concepts for grades 9 and 10. Computer Science Principles is more focused on CS concepts for grades 11 and 12. Choose the CS course that best aligns with the grade levels of math you will be teaching.
Q: Are the Academic Year Workshops (AYWs) a full-day event/training?
A: Some are broken into four 1.5-hour chunks and offered in the after-school space across consecutive days in a single week. Some are full-day events; funding for substitute teachers is available from SSDA. All AYWs feature asynchronous and synchronous delivery of content. Sample workshop schedule from 2022-23: 2022-23 CS4NorCal Academic Year Workshops and CoP Meetings
Q: Will workshops during the school year be virtual or in person?
A: In 2022-23, all school-year workshops are being offered virtually via a Zoom link. Some workshops feature both synchronous and asynchronous elements.The schedule for and format of the 2023-24 workshops has not yet been finalized.
Q: Where can I find the dates for the Professional Learning Calendar?
A: The Professional Learning calendars can be found on both the CS4NorCal website (www.cs4norcal.org ) home page and in the Educator Portal on the website. As an example, here is a link to the calendar for the 2022-23 academic year workshop calendar: 2022-23 CS4NorCal Academic Year Workshops and CoP Meetings.
Q: During the academic year, must we participate in all workshop sessions and all community of practice meetings?
A: While CS4NorCal does not have an attendance requirement, in order to receive the full benefit of the training opportunities, regular attendance is recommended. Also, regular attendance is the only way to assure that you will maximize the amount of the stipend you will receive.
Q: Must participants commit to multiple years of participation?
Because CS4NorCal is funded through a federal Education Innovation and Research grant, participants will be placed in staggered cohorts, allowing the SSDA team to co-design the implementation with local partners from each county office of education, evaluate processes and refine the model over the course of the project. Each cohort will receive intensive professional development that will start a year at a time, commencing during summer 2021.
SSDA currently is seeking schools and teachers willing to join a cohort starting in summer 2022 or summer 2024.
Click here to learn more about the cohort experience.
Q: CS4NorCal is a research project. How will that impact participants?
A: In conjunction with our research partner, UC Davis, SSDA will evaluate project implementation each year, learning from participant and student outcomes how to refine the professional learning and instructional delivery models. Throughout the process, SSDA and UCD also will evaluate student and teacher outcomes of a control group, which will participate in the project’s professional learning intervention at the project’s end, 2024-25.
In each year of participation, all teachers will participate in data collection activities to support the learning and evaluation of the project. Data collection activities may include, taking surveys, participating in interviews and/or focus groups, collecting student participation and outcome data, and sharing artifacts of teaching and learning.
Prior to participating in professional learning, teachers in either of the control groups (starting in summer 2023 or summer 2024) also will participate in data collection activities that will inform the project’s study and evaluation. Data collection activities will be compensated and include administering a student CS interest survey, a short assessment of CS skills, and district provision of SBAC data.
Some data collection will occur during the compensated professional learning workshops. However, participants also will receive $100/year for time spent collecting data.
Q: How can we access links to forms, such as the travel reimbursement claim and the W-9?
A: Links are posted in the Educator Portal on CS4NorCal’s webpage www.cs4norcal.org.
Q: Will an IPad work for the training?
A: A Chromebook, laptop or desktop computer are needed for these training sessions. An iPad has limited capabilities in platform support for the curricula offered.
Q: When do I receive my stipend?
A: The Small School Districts' Association sends stipends to participants twice a year, generally at the end of the first semester of the school year and at the end of the school year. Gift cards (for data reporting or other special events) may be provided throughout the year upon completion of particular deliverables.
Q: Why do I have to fill out the W9 form?
A: In order to receive professional learning stipends, you must complete a W-9 form because stipends (and gift cards) are reportable income. The link to the W-9 can be found in the Educator Portal on the CS4NorCal website www.cs4norcal.org.