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Virginia Governor Northam Announces $1.3 Million in Grants to Advance Computer Science Education in Virginia Schools

(STL.News) – Governor Ralph Northam today announced more than $1.3 million in state grants to support the implementation of Virginia’s Computer Science Standards of Learning.  In 2016, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation requiring that the Standards of Learning include computer science and coding.  The standards, which were adopted by the state Board of Education in 2017, are the nation’s first mandatory K-12 computer science standards.

“Knowing the basics of computer science can open doors to virtually any career in our fast-growing 21st-century economy,” said Governor Northam.  “We are working to expand career-connected learning and integrate computer science into the curriculum at every grade level.  With these grants, we have a tremendous opportunity to put today’s students on a path to developing the key computer science and coding skills they need to compete for the jobs of tomorrow.”

The 2019 General Assembly authorized up to $1.35 million in grants to provide professional development for teachers, create computer science curriculum, instructional resources, and assessments, support summer and after-school programs, and provide career exposure and work-based learning opportunities for high school students.  The legislature directed that underserved students and schools performing below state standards receive priority in the awarding of the grants.

“Computer science is a core competency Virginia students need to succeed in the workforce, but educational inequities too often limit access to the resources schools can provide for students to receive a world-class STEM education,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni.  “Through funding work-based learning, after-school programs, and other hands-on learning opportunities, with an emphasis on equity, these grants will catalyze a love of computer science within students across the Commonwealth.”

The grants were awarded as follows:

  • Radford Public Schools — $149,983 to integrate computer science in K-8 instruction and to create simulated work environments in partnership with Radford University and area businesses
  • Virginia Beach Public Schools — $148,678 to create college-level computer science courses, extra-curricular computer science clubs, career labs, and regional partnerships to provide work-based learning opportunities for students
  • Charlottesville Public Schools — $124,000 to create a partnership with the University of Virginia, Tech-Girls, and Computers4Kids to develop resources, train teachers, and engage K-8 students in computer science
  • Cumberland County Public Schools — $99,800 to provide professional development in computer science for K-8 teachers in Region 8 and to create a career connections course incorporating robotics and unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Floyd County Public Schools — $77,166 to provide interdisciplinary professional development in computer science and to integrate the Computer Science Standards of Learning into instruction with an emphasis on underrepresented student groups
  • George Mason University — $125,000 to create a partnership between educational agencies and school divisions to improve the pedagogical practices and content knowledge of teachers and undergraduates in computer science and computational thinking
  • Old Dominion University — $125,000 to develop a regional partnership between Old Dominion University, school divisions, and educational organizations to broaden teacher and student access to and participation in computer science learning by training teachers, developing classroom resources, increasing knowledge of computer science career pathways, and developing computer science micro-credentials
  • Prince William County Public Schools — $125,000 to form partnerships with local institutions of higher education and local and state agencies, providing professional development opportunities for teachers and increasing awareness of the importance of computer science skills in a variety of careers
  • Stafford County Public Schools — $118,481 to form a regional consortium to develop, disseminate, and evaluate computer science resources for grades 3-8 and create a partnership with other school divisions, institutions of higher education, military agencies, and educational organizations that will develop curricular resources, performance assessments, and lead professional development in effective computer science pedagogy
  • University of Virginia’s College at Wise — $125,000 to support a collaborative effort between Region 7 school divisions and education agencies offering professional development in computer science, including workshops, conferences, and coursework for teachers in the region
  • Virginia Commonwealth University — $124,922 to create a collaborative that combines teams from CodeRVA Regional High School partner school divisions to transform existing computer science courses into thematic online modules coupled with locally relevant and authentic student challenges, and to equip teachers with culturally responsive strategies for working with diverse students

“The funded projects will equip our teachers to present the content of the Computer Science Standards of Learning in the context of real-life challenges and create school-to-work partnerships to connect students with career opportunities,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane.  “It is truly exciting to see school divisions, colleges and universities, and the private sector collaborate to implement the standards in ways that prepare students for postsecondary and career success.”

There is no applicable Standards of Learning test associated with computer science instruction.  These academic standards were developed to provide students with a detailed understanding of the study of computers, their hardware and software designs, their applications, and their impact on society.

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