This article is published in the February 2016 issue.

Computer Science for All

nsf logoIt is a very exciting time for Computer Science (CS) education! I know our community was proud and excited to hear President Obama explicitly call out CS education in his final State of the Union address. Even more recently, on Saturday, January 30th, the President unveiled the Computer Science for All initiative in his weekly address to “make sure all our kids get an opportunity to learn computer science”. This high-profile attention reflects the central role that computer and information science and engineering has come to play in so many aspects of our daily lives.

Our Nation’s ability to meet the President’s stated goal is only possible because of the efforts of the computing community together with many others across the country – educators; local, state, and federal governments; industry; and private organizations – all of whom have been working to lay the foundations to realize this goal. In fact, leading up to the CS for All announcement, we’ve seen growing interest in CS education from states and cities (e.g., Arkansas, New York City, Chicago).

With this initiative, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is committing $120 million over five years to accelerate its efforts to enable rigorous and engaging CS education in schools across the Nation. This investment will support the development of prototypes of instructional materials, assessments, scalable and sustainable professional development models, and teacher resources, along with research to study their effectiveness. Read more about NSF’s role and commitments in our press release. For more information, you can also check out NSF’s two new websites that help to spotlight NSF’s role in CS education and CS for All.

NSF’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate (particularly under the leadership of Jan Cuny, CISE Program Director for Education and Workforce Development), in collaboration with the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate and the broad CISE PI community have played critical roles in moving CS education forward in the last decade and paving the way for CS for All.  It has been an “all hands on deck” effort, and we are proud to work with partners across the Federal government such as the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Department of Education, the Department of Defense, and the Corporation for National and Community Service; and partners from across the private sector such as, the College Board, the National Math and Science Initiative, Project Lead the Way, Teach for America, and 100Kin10 as part of this initiative.

We can all be proud of the impact of CS, and CISE, and the wide recognition that it is receiving at the national level. We at NSF look forward to continuing to work with you to help empower our Nation’s students with a strong foundation in computer science!