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REL Midwest Ask A REL Response

College and Career Readiness

September 2017

Questions:

What research is available on the impact of integrating computer science requirements into curriculum on high school mathematics and science coursetaking, graduation, postsecondary remedial coursework, and postsecondary success?

What research is available on the impact of changing computer science standards/policies (at the local or state level) on teacher recruitment and retention?



Response:

Following an established Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest protocol, we conducted a search for research reports and descriptive studies on the impact of integrating computer science requirements into high school mathematics and science curricula on student outcomes involving coursetaking, graduation, postsecondary remedial coursework, and postsecondary success. We also conducted a search concerning the impact of changing computer science standards and policies on teacher recruitment and retention. For details on the databases and sources, keywords, and selection criteria used to create this response, please see the methods section at the end of this memo.

Below, we share a sampling of the publicly accessible resources on this topic. The search conducted is not comprehensive; other relevant references and resources may exist. We have not evaluated the quality of references and resources provided in this response, but offer this list to you for your information only.

Research References

1. What research is available on the impact of integrating computer science requirements into curriculum on high school mathematics and science coursetaking, graduation, postsecondary remedial coursework, and postsecondary success?

Burdman, P. (2015). Degrees of freedom: Diversifying math requirements for college readiness and graduation (report 1 of a 3-part series). Berkeley, CA: Policy Analysis for California Education. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED564291

From the ERIC abstract: “Since the mid-20th century, the standard U.S. high school and college math curriculum has been based on two years of algebra and a year of geometry, preparing students to take classes in pre-calculus followed by calculus. Students’ math pursuits have been differentiated primarily by how far or how rapidly they proceed along a clearly defined trajectory that has changed little since then. Evolutions in various disciplines and in learning sciences are calling into question the relevance and utility of this trajectory as a requirement for all students. The emerging movement is toward differentiated ‘math pathways’ with distinct trajectories tied to students’ goals. Alternatives emphasizing statistics, modeling, computer science, and quantitative reasoning that are cropping up in high schools and colleges are beginning to challenge the dominance of the familiar math sequence. The drive toward acknowledging the importance of multiple domains within math is prompted largely by two developments: (1) technological tectonics; and (2) demand for deeper learning. Decisions about math requirements and expectations will have a major impact on the academic opportunities of millions of students nationally. This is the first report in ‘Degrees of Freedom,’ a series that explores the role of math as a gatekeeper in higher education. This report examines the move toward differentiated math pathways linked to students’ academic majors, highlights some obstacles to implementing them, and discusses some principles for addressing those obstacles. [For part 2 of this series, see ED564295. For part 3 of this series, see ED564294.]”

Goldberg, D. S., Grunwald, D., Lewis, C., Feld, J. A., & Hug, S. (2012). Engaging computer science in traditional education: The ECSITE project. In Proceedings of the 17th ACM annual conference on innovation and technology in computer science education (pp. 351–356). New York, NY: ACM.

From the abstract: “Engaging Computer Science in Traditional Education (ECSITE, pronounced ‘excite’) is a 5-year program that began in 2009 to bring computer science into traditional K-12 classrooms. Rather than seeking to draw students into computing courses, we bring computing into the courses that students are already taking. To date, these have included art, biology, health education, mathematics, and social studies courses as well as a Native American focus program. Middle school and high school students are introduced to computational thinking and computer science concepts including algorithms, graph theory, and simulations in interdisciplinary contexts, mirroring the ways in which computing technologies are utilized in research and industry. Teachers report that students increase their understanding and perception of computer science, and that participating K-12 teachers increase their knowledge about computing and will continue to include the computational curriculum after their involvement with ECSITE.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. While REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Gottfried, M., & Bozick, R. (2012). The role of applied engineering and computer science courses in the production of math achievement in high school. Paper presented at the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness Conference, Washington, DC. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED530537

From the ERIC abstract: “Academic math and science courses have been long shown to increase learning and educational attainment, but are they sufficient on their own to prepare youth for the challenges and rigor of the STEM workforce? Or, are there distinctive benefits to complementing these traditional academic courses with applied ones? Answers to these questions are particularly critical as schools try to balance the competing demands of providing youth with the applied skills and knowledge to thrive in the adult labor force while at the same time ensuring they are meeting high standards of academic competency that are required for college. With respect to the latter, the emphasis on standardized testing has exacerbated these concerns, and in some cases, test preparation and an over emphasis on academic subjects has ‘crowded out’ other components of the curriculum. With these competing demands and faced with limited resources, education policy makers must make informed choices regarding how to best structure their curriculum to meet the needs of a diverse student population. To this end, the proposed project will address three research questions: (1) What applied STEM courses are most commonly taken by high school students?; (2) To what extent are high school students taking both academic and applied STEM courses?; and (3) Do applied STEM courses in high school improve achievement in math?”

Lekes, N., Bragg, D. D., Loeb, J. W., Oleksiw, C. A., Marszalek, J., Brooks-LaRaviere, M., … Hood, L. K. (2007). Career and technical education pathway programs, academic performance, and the transition to college and career. Minneapolis, MN: National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, University of Minnesota. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED497342

From the ERIC abstract: “This mixed method study examined secondary student matriculation to two selected community colleges offering career and technical education (CTE) transition programs through partnerships with K-12 and secondary districts having numerous high schools. The study had two distinct components: (1) a secondary study that compared CTE and non-CTE students on academic experiences, achievement, and transition into the first semester of college; and (2) a postsecondary study that examined CTE pathway students’ transition experiences and outcomes associated with enrollment at the local community college. Both study components utilized qualitative methods to describe policies and practices and quantitative methods to assess how student participation affected student outcomes. The results of this study describe students’ high school performance, their transition from high school to college and careers, and their college performance, persistence, and credential attainment. The secondary study showed that CTE students took significantly more CTE courses and course credits than their matched counterparts. A significant difference was also noted between the groups on dual credit courses, with CTE students taking more than the non-CTE group. A follow-up survey conducted as part of the secondary study revealed that CTE students in both sites felt more prepared than their matched non-CTE counterparts to transition to college and careers. This study offers implications for policymakers and practitioners: (1) Results suggest that participation in CTE transition programs does not interfere with academic course-taking in that CTE students were equally as academically prepared as matched non-CTE students and other relevant comparison groups; (2) Student participation in CTE transition programs was associated with the students feeling more prepared for the transition to college and careers, with numerous results pointing to feelings of confidence and satisfaction regarding choices about college and careers; (3) Despite rather high incidence of remediation, students who required remedial coursework were often retained in college-credit courses and were not impeded in their persistence in college, raising questions about the presumed detrimental impact of remediation on persistence; and (4) Dual credit played a role in participants’ accelerated progress and success at earning college certificates and degrees, and therefore suggests that dual credit, in association with academics and CTE, may be an incentive for college persistence and completion.”

Nager, A., & Atkinson, R. (2016). The case for improving U.S. computer science education. NCSSS Journal, 21(1), 18–19. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1121431

From the ERIC abstract: “Despite the growing use of computers and software in every facet of our economy, not until recently has computer science education begun to gain traction in American school systems. The current focus on improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the U.S. School system has disregarded differences within STEM fields. Indeed, the most important STEM field for a modern economy is not only one that is not represented by its own initial in “STEM” but also the field with the fewest number of high school students taking its classes. It is also by far the one that has the most room for improvement, and that is computer science. Among the key findings in this report: (1) Only a quarter of high schools offer computer science, and often these courses lack rigor or focus on computer use or just coding instead of delving into computer science principles; (2) Only 18 percent of schools accredited to offer advanced placement exams offer the computer science AP exam; (3) Access to computer science is concentrated in affluent schools; (4) Only 22 percent of students who take the AP exam in computer science are female, the largest gender disparity of any AP exam; (5) Less than 10 percent of students who take the AP computer science exam are Hispanic, and less than 4 percent are black; and (6) Access to computer science is also limited at universities. This report offers a series of policy recommendations to improve computer science education in the United States. They include: (1) Policymakers should reform curricula to focus on core concepts of computer science in primary and secondary schools and provide resources to train and recruit high-quality computer science teachers; (2) All states should allow computer science to count as either a math or science requirement, and more STEM-intensive public high schools that give students in-depth exposure to computer science should be established to allow students with the aptitude and interest in computer science to more deeply explore the subject; and (3) Universities should be incentivized to expand their offerings in computer science and prioritize retaining students interested in majoring, minoring, or taking courses in computer science. Not only is computer science a powerful educational tool for fostering critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity, computer skills and competencies are in high demand among employers in a wide range of industries, not just the tech industry.”

Zinth, J. (2016). Computer science in high school graduation requirements. ECS education trends (Updated). Denver, CO: Education Commission of the States. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED568885

From the ERIC abstract: “Allowing high school students to fulfill a math or science high school graduation requirement via a computer science credit may encourage more student to pursue computer science coursework. This Education Trends report is an update to the original report released in April 2015 and explores state policies that allow or require districts to apply computer science coursework toward completion of high school graduation requirements in math, science or foreign language.”

2. What research is available on the impact of changing computer science standards/policies (at the local or state level) on teacher recruitment and retention?

Bernier, D., & Margolis, J. (2014). The revolving door: Computer science for all and the challenge of teacher retention (Working paper 3). Los Angeles, CA: Exploring Computer Science. Retrieved from http://www.exploringcs.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/The-Revolving-Door-CS-for-All-and-the-Challenge-of-Teacher-Retention-Final.pdf

From the introduction of the report: “Momentum behind increasing K-12 computer science (CS) learning opportunities is rising, resulting in more school districts agreeing that CS is an important component of students’ academic and career pathways. Yet, as this is happening, particular attention must be paid to recruiting, mentoring, supporting, and retaining CS teachers. In this paper we discuss our investigation into the factors that have threatened the staffing and retention of ECS teachers in LA schools. This is especially the case in schools serving low-income African-American and Latino students, schools that are already challenged with recruiting and retaining effective STEM educators. In this paper we offer considerations for addressing these challenges in the work to broaden participation in computing.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to confirm whether this resource is peer reviewed. Although REL Midwest tries to provide peer-reviewed resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you.

Franke, B., Century, J., Lach, M., Wilson, C., Guzdial, M., Chapman, G., & Astrachan, O. (2013). Expanding access to K-12 computer science education: Research on the landscape of computer science professional development. In Proceedings of the 44th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (pp. 541–542). New York, NY: ACM.

From the abstract: “This session will present the research findings to date from an 18-month study commissioned by the ACM in partnership with the National Science Foundation, Google, Computer Science Teachers Association, Microsoft, and the National Center for Woman and Information Technology that started in July, 2012, and invite an open discussion about them. The study seeks to understand the national landscape of K-12 computer science (CS) professional development (PD) and the capacity to provide high quality CS PD on a large scale. The study is being conducted by The University of Chicago’s Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education (CEMSE) who will present findings from the landscape study conducted in the Summer and Fall of 2012, as well as preliminary findings about the CS community’s capacity for increasing the ranks of K-12 CS teachers in light NSF’s stated goal of preparing 10,000 secondary education teachers to teach high-quality computer science. A goal for this work is to produce actionable findings that will be of use to the broad CS education community. In the spirit of togetherness and engendering some collective action toward a coherent national strategy for expanding computer science education, it’s vital that the SIGCSE community be both aware of this study’s findings and be given an opportunity to reflect on its implications. Therefore, over half the time of this session will be devoted to open discussion during which several key questions stemming from the findings will be raised as well as questions raised by audience members. This session is an important opportunity for the SIGCSE community to offer feedback and help to guide the future direction of this study to ensure that the findings and plans for the remainder of the study are useful and actionable.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Hu, H. H., Heiner, C., Gagne, T., & Lyman, C. (2017). Building a statewide computer science teacher pipeline. In Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGCSE technical symposium on computer science education (pp. 291–296). New York, NY: ACM.

From the ACM abstract: “From 2012 to 2015, the number of Utah secondary teachers teaching computer science courses grew from 38 to 164. This growth was made possible by introducing three new CS teacher endorsements, which reduced the effort required for existing teachers to start teaching CS. Instead of committing to completing five college-level CS courses in two years, an existing but new-to-CS Utah teacher could complete an Exploring Computer Science (ECS) endorsement in half a year. Thanks to changes to high school graduation requirements, students were able to take a CS course without using an elective credit, boosting enrollment and broadening participation. Analysis of ECS teacher surveys and student surveys found surprisingly few differences between CS-experienced teachers and new-to-CS teachers in their ability to teach CS. By the end of the ECS course, even ECS students with low confidence in their own CS abilities believed that anyone could succeed in CS, regardless of their teacher’s CS background. All students’ interest in taking additional CS classes significantly increased after taking ECS, although CS-experienced teachers had a stronger impact on ECS students with low confidence than new-to-CS teachers. These results suggest that school districts seeking to provide computer science education for all their students can successfully staff their CS classes by supporting existing secondary teachers with no prior CS background with quality CS professional development and mentoring.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. While REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Menekse, M. (2015). Computer science teacher professional development in the United States: A review of studies published between 2004 and 2014. Computer Science Education, 25(4), 325–350. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1094232

From the ERIC abstract: “While there has been a remarkable interest to make computer science a core K-12 academic subject in the United States, there is a shortage of K-12 computer science teachers to successfully implement computer sciences courses in schools. In order to enhance computer science teacher capacity, training programs have been offered through teacher professional development. In this study, the main goal was to systematically review the studies regarding computer science professional development to understand the scope, context, and effectiveness of these programs in the past decade (2004-2014). Based on 21 journal articles and conference proceedings, this study explored: (1) Type of professional development organization and source of funding, (2) professional development structure and participants, (3) goal of professional development and type of evaluation used, (4) specific computer science concepts and training tools used, (5) and their effectiveness to improve teacher practice and student learning.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Nager, A., & Atkinson, R. (2016). The case for improving U.S. computer science education. NCSSS Journal, 21(1), 18–19. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1121431

From the ERIC abstract: “Despite the growing use of computers and software in every facet of our economy, not until recently has computer science education begun to gain traction in American school systems. The current focus on improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the U.S. School system has disregarded differences within STEM fields. Indeed, the most important STEM field for a modern economy is not only one that is not represented by its own initial in ‘STEM’ but also the field with the fewest number of high school students taking its classes. It is also by far the one that has the most room for improvement, and that is computer science. Among the key findings in this report: (1) Only a quarter of high schools offer computer science, and often these courses lack rigor or focus on computer use or just coding instead of delving into computer science principles; (2) Only 18 percent of schools accredited to offer advanced placement exams offer the computer science AP exam; (3) Access to computer science is concentrated in affluent schools; (4) Only 22 percent of students who take the AP exam in computer science are female, the largest gender disparity of any AP exam; (5) Less than 10 percent of students who take the AP computer science exam are Hispanic, and less than 4 percent are black; and (6) Access to computer science is also limited at universities. This report offers a series of policy recommendations to improve computer science education in the United States. They include: (1) Policymakers should reform curricula to focus on core concepts of computer science in primary and secondary schools and provide resources to train and recruit high-quality computer science teachers; (2) All states should allow computer science to count as either a math or science requirement, and more STEM-intensive public high schools that give students in-depth exposure to computer science should be established to allow students with the aptitude and interest in computer science to more deeply explore the subject; and (3) Universities should be incentivized to expand their offerings in computer science and prioritize retaining students interested in majoring, minoring, or taking courses in computer science. Not only is computer science a powerful educational tool for fostering critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity, computer skills and competencies are in high demand among employers in a wide range of industries, not just the tech industry.”

Ni, L., Guzdial, M., Tew, A. E., Morrison, B., & Galanos, R. (2011). Building a community to support HS CS teachers: The disciplinary commons for computing educators. In Proceedings of the 42nd ACM technical symposium on computer science education (pp. 553–558). New York, NY: ACM.

From the abstract: “In this paper, we describe our experience in supporting high school CS teachers by building a local community through the Disciplinary Commons for Computing Educators (DCCE) project. The DCCE project is an effort to explore ways of supporting these CS teachers through the creation of a local community and by promoting teacher reflection. DCCE achieved this goal through an academic-year-long program where a cohort of CS teachers engaged in collaborative portfolio creation and peer observation of classroom teaching. We describe the design of the DCCE activities and present preliminary results from initial evaluations. Our short-term evaluations indicate that this project was successful in creating a supportive community, promoting teacher reflection, and advancing change in teaching practices among a group of computing educators.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. While REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Stanton, J., Goldsmith, L., Adrion, W. R., Dunton, S., Hendrickson, K. A., Peterfreund, A., … Zinth, J. D. (2017). State of the States landscape report: State-level policies supporting equitable K-12 computer science education. Retrieved from https://www.ecs.org/state-of-the-states-landscape-report-state-level-policies-supporting-equitable-k-12-computer-science-education/

From the “Goals for This Report” section of the report: “In this report, we summarize states’ progress in developing state-level policies that support equitable K-12 CS education for today’s students, with two main goals in mind:

  • To provide a resource for states to use in reflecting on their own progress toward realization of K-12 CS education for all
  • To help states identify other states as possible resources

To this end, the report does the following:

  • Summarizes, across all states, current progress toward establishing policy priorities for the advancement of equitable K-12 CS education
  • Identifies some best practices that states have developed to build momentum toward expanding CS education and implementing policies
  • Identifies issues that states are facing in their policy development and implementation efforts
  • Shares approaches that states have found to be useful in addressing some of these issues, with the hope that they will be relevant and useful to other states as they continue to develop their own plans.”

Additional Organizations to Consult

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) : – https://www.acm.org

From the website: “ACM brings together computing educators, researchers, and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources, and address the field's challenges. As the world’s largest computing society, ACM strengthens the profession's collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for lifelong learning, career development, and professional networking.

Founded at the dawn of the computer age, ACM’s reach extends to every part of the globe, with more than half of its 100,000 members residing outside the U.S. Its growing membership has led to Councils in Europe, India, and China, fostering networking opportunities that strengthen ties within and across countries and technical communities. Their actions enhance ACM’s ability to raise awareness of computing’s important technical, educational, and social issues around the world.”

Code.org : – https://code.org

From the website: “Code.org® is a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities. Our vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science, just like biology, chemistry or algebra. Code.org organizes the annual Hour of Code campaign which has engaged 10% of all students in the world and provides the leading curriculum for K-12 computer science in the largest school districts in the United States. Code.org is supported by generous donors including Microsoft, Facebook, the Infosys Foundation, Google, Omidyar Network, and many more.”

Exploring Computer Science : – http://www.exploringcs.org

From the website: “Our mission is to increase and enhance the computer science learning opportunities in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest school district in the country, and to broaden the participation of African-American, Latino/a, and female students in learning computer science. To do so we have founded a K-12/university partnership, which is working on changes at multiple levels:

  • Technical (curriculum, professional development, counselor education);
  • Belief systems (stereotypes about what type of student can do computer science, low expectations);
  • Political (policy changes that must occur to institutionalize computer science learning at the high school level, especially in schools with high numbers of students of color).

While we partner to deepen the capacity of LAUSD to support these reforms, we are developing a model and repository of best practices that can help spread and inform similar efforts in other school districts.”

Methods

Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • Computer science AND high school

  • Computer science AND postsecondary success

  • Computer science AND postsecondary remedial coursework

  • Computer science AND teacher professional development

  • Computer science AND secondary education

  • Computer science AND policies k-12

  • Computer literacy AND high school

  • (Programming OR computer science) AND curriculum AND (“high school” OR secondary)

Databases and Search Engines

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published over the last 15 years, from 2002 to present, were include in the search and review.

  • Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations.

  • Methodology: We used the following methodological priorities/considerations in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types—randomized control trials, quasi-experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, and so forth, generally in this order, (b) target population, samples (e.g., representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected), study duration, and so forth, and (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, and so forth.
This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Midwest Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL Region) at American Institutes for Research. This memorandum was prepared by REL Midwest under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007, administered by American Institutes for Research. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.