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Department of Education-funded Education and Innovation Research project in computational thinking

Updated: Jan 30, 2020

We're pleased to announce that SEG will serve as evaluator for an Education and Innovation Research - Early Phase grant awarded to Tufts University from the US Department of Education. The project, "Coding as Another Language: The Development and Implementation of a Computational Thinking Curriculum and Sustainable Professional Development Model in K-2,” involves a partnership between the DevTech research group at Tufts University and Norfolk Public Schools (NPS) in Virginia, the first state to mandate the teaching of computer science.

The project will accomplish three goals: 1) create a comprehensive, field tested, high quality integrated K-2 computer science (CS) curriculum and suite of teaching materials and implementation supports that will be free and publicly available; 2) achieve high fidelity implementation in all 32 schools in the district resulting in statistically significant student learning outcomes and teacher’s pedagogical and content knowledge to implement the curriculum; and 3) build capacity of leaders, technology coordinators and specialized coaches to replicate and sustain work following the grant period.

Currently, Virginia is the first state to introduce K-12 CS Standards of Learning. However, as both Virginia and other states implement policies, there is a need of developmentally appropriate research-based curriculum as well as rigorous research-based professional development models that can scale up in the K-2 segment. To address the first need, given that ScratchJr is a free programming language designed for that age segment by the DevTech Lab, in collaboration with Mitch Resnick at MIT, and that is used by 13 million users worldwide, the proposed project aims to develop a K-2 CS curriculum, called “Coding as Another Language” (CAL), that integrates math and literacy while engaging children in learning to code with ScratchJr and unplugged activities to promote computational thinking. To address the second need, the proposed project seeks to develop and field test professional development strategies that are scalable for implementing the CAL curriculum and that are supported by evidence of learning outcomes.

The awarded grant builds on earlier pilot work with NPS with KIBO robotics. In 2016, the district was awarded a $1.5-million-dollar grant, “Operation: Break the Code to College and Career Readiness”, to support military dependent students and enhance academic achievement through integrated computer science. The newly funded project seeks to have an impact for all children in the district by significantly increasing early childhood computer science content knowledge and providing scalable strategies for introducing computer science in communities with high need students.

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