Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Q&A: San Francisco Expands Computer Science Classes

The San Francisco school district announced last month that it will phase in computer science instruction for all students at all grade levels.

It's an ambitious plan. Chicago is the only other major urban district attempting to integrate computer science instruction in similarly broad scope—and San Francisco's plan goes even further by bringing the topic to students as young as prekindergarten.

Funding for the computer science expansion will come from the district, industry partnerships, and a deal with the Salesforce.com Foundation that brought the school system $5 million to increase resources for science, technology, engineering, and math.

Education Week spoke last month with James Ryan, the district's executive director for STEM, about the new initiative. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What was the impetus behind this change? Why did the school board vote to make this happen?
Mr. Ryan: Computer science currently in the district is a few courses students can take in high school, mostly when they're either juniors or seniors, some as sophomores. But it's 5 percent or less of the students [taking it] and not even at every high school. In middle school, it's less than half a percent of kids who get exposed to computer science or coding courses, and essentially zero at the K-5 level.

Read more at www.sfusd.edu

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