CS Policy to Practice:
Understanding Emerging Approaches to State-Level Computer Science Education Policy Design in the United States
Policy is not just made, but lived and experienced by individuals in local communities. CSforALL, in partnership with the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance and SageFox Consulting have produced a report that seeks to document progress, make recommendations, and highlight questions at the intersection of accountability, alignment, and data related to state CS education policy.
This reports seeks to lift the voices, concerns, and experiences of local education professionals, bridging them with lessons drawn from education policy more broadly. We hope to highlight opportunities to support the early enthusiasts and sole adopters and advocates, while enabling a landscape in which equity is not driven by the tireless actions of the few, but instead is a mutually agreed upon goal of the many.
Key Takeaways are:
- Early teacher advocates are key to building interest and momentum, but insufficient alone to move the mechanisms of power to reach all students.
- Equitable policy outcomes require equity to be a core priority from the start.
- CS education policy design should balance rules and incentives (accountability) with clarity on goals and supports for reaching them (alignment).
- In a strong accountability and high alignment environment, clear targets are more likely to be reached, resulting in equitable institutional implementation.
- The CS education field should embrace the perspectives of “accountability as collective responsibility for learning,” rather than the more traditional ver of “accountability as sticks and carrots”.
- Clear and consistent communication is key.
- Policies must take into account, and directly support, the broader systems supporting classrooms and students.
- Policy needs to be adaptable to individual locations.
- Policy-linked data needs to focus on improvement, not just accountability.
Support for this project was provided by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the foundation.
About the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance
ECEP is an NSF-funded Broadening Participation (BPC) in Computing Alliance that focuses on increasing the number and diversity of students in computing through state-level CS education advocacy and policy reform. The ECEP model emphasizes building state-level capacity to address the diverse and intractable contextual factors that have stymied efforts to expand computing education pathways. ECEP collaborates with broad based teams in 22 states and Puerto Rico to develop and test interventions focused on systemic change. Interventions include: developing tools and resources for state-level support, defining BPC indicators and measuring state BPC goals. website
SageFox is a research and evaluation firm located in Amherst Massachusetts. Our work is based on values of collaboration, transparency and meaningful contribution to the education community. Projects have focused on retrospective studies to uncover the long-term impacts of education programs, aggregating knowledge across programs and/or states and understanding emerging needs in STEM education. In CS education projects we address policy reform, teacher professional development, curriculum, research-practice partnerships, shared data collection and pathway development. website