The Center for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (CEMaST), in partnership with the College of Education and Integrative Studies (CEIS), has received a $105,000, multi-year grant from SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union to establish the SchoolsFirst FCU Computer Science Authorization Awards. The fund will support students and local teachers in their pathway to teaching and obtaining a supplemental authorization in computer science (CS).
The supplemental authorization aims to prepare educators to teach a comprehensive computer science curriculum including computational thinking, computing practice and programming, software design, data structure and algorithms. This teaching authorization is added to an existing credential and requires 10 upper division units in computer science.
Laurie Riggs, professor and project director, said CEMaST is especially interested in training teachers in computer science given the lack of classes in the subject available in our local area.
“There is a shortage of qualified teachers in designated fields like special education, science, computer science and mathematics,” said Riggs. “Increasing access to computer science courses has become a top priority in California because our state has the greatest need for these teachers compared to other states across the country.”
In a report by Code.org, a nonprofit agency dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools, only 47 percent of California high schools offer computer science courses. In addition, California has roughly 79,000 computer science job openings, yet the state only produced 7,311 computer science graduates in 2018. The average salary for a computing job is $115,000.
“In the fast, ever-changing and connected world, computer science is a key area for future careers globally. We are proud to partner and support educators through the SchoolsFirst FCU Computer Science Authorization Awards, an important aspect of computer science is problem solving, which is an essential skill for life,” said Bill Cheney, President/CEO of SchoolsFirst FCU. “The CPP program helps build a brighter future for our communities.”
To meet the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) requirements for a supplemental authorization in CS, CEMaST invested Mathematics and Science Teacher Initiative (MSTI) funds from the Chancellor’s Office to develop coursework that satisfies the supplemental authorization. The SchoolsFirst FCU grant will further support these efforts by funding student scholarships and incentives to current preservice teachers in the form of the SchoolsFirst FCU Computer Science Authorization Awards.
“The Department of Computer Science is thrilled to partner with SchoolsFirst FCU to provide scholarship and incentives for teachers to complete their training for CS specific supplementary authorizations,” said Professor Daisy Tang, chair of the Department of Computer Science. “This is a step in the right direction towards addressing California’s teacher shortage. In the past year, CS faculty worked with CEMaST to prepare a suite of CS upper division courses specifically designed for teachers to cover the topics required in the authorization. We are currently offering them to our first cohort of high school teachers who are supported through the SchoolsFirst FCU grant. They are on track to complete the requirements by the spring semester.”
CPP endeavors to have the CS authorization become a part of an undergraduate focus for liberal studies majors as well as a part of a CS teaching minor. This goal fulfills the university’s primary objective of increasing its capacity to offer programs that will support current and future teachers as well as institutionalize additional pathways to increase the STEM teacher pipeline.
“The College of Education and Integrative Studies is excited to partner with SchoolsFirst FCU and CEMaST to provide CPP students, current and future teachers with the opportunity to obtain a supplemental authorization in CS, a highly needed area of teaching expertise for our local schools and districts,” said CEIS Interim Dean Hend Gilli-Elewy. “The SchoolsFirst FCU grant makes it possible to further support CPP students by offering awards.”
For more information about the CS supplemental authorization program, contact Professor Laurie Riggs at firstname.lastname@example.org.