A new $5 million grant from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) aims to increase the number of Texas educators certified to teach computer science. UT Austin’s WeTeach_CS program will use the grant to provide intensive, sustained K-12 professional development. “TEA’s previous support of WeTeach_CS has already been transformative for districts across the spectrum—from giant urban districts like Houston and Dallas to remote rural districts like Presidio and Iraan-Sheffield,” says Carol Fletcher, director of WeTeach_CS.
“In the Houston ISD, for example, the number of certified computer science teachers has grown from eight to 29 since 2015 as a result of the HISDWeTeach_CS partnership. In 2015, the number of students in the district who were enrolled in advanced computer science courses was 151. In 2016, they had 1,042.”
Approximately half of the grant will be used to fund 29 computer science collaboratives around the state to provide direct training and support for teachers in their region. The grant will also fund pilot teacher externship projects that connect Texas educators to industry experiences in STEM fields. “TEA is thrilled to partner with UT on these initiatives,” says Penny Schwinn, the TEA’s deputy commissioner of academics. “We believe deeply in Texas educators and know that this investment in their collaboration with industry partners will not only enrich their ongoing professional learning, but significantly impact the achievement of their students.”