Blog Post

Access Tools for Assessing CS in Your High School

In a previous post, Assessing CS in Your High School, I wrote about how your classroom and school fit into the larger movement to provide CS education for all students nationwide. That post framed the assessment based on access, diversity, and inclusion, as defined by the Guide to Inclusive Computer Science Education report. This post addresses access, while future ones will address diversity and inclusion.

Tracking Access Data

The first step to providing equitable computer science education is ensuring that all students have access to computer science courses. Three basic goals are:

  • Have at least one CS course available at each grade level.
  • Offer at least four CS courses, so students can study CS in depth.
  • Provide enough capacity in CS courses so they are available to each student.

Capacity is considered to need improvement if a course is at 85% capacity or higher. In these cases, students can be prevented from enrolling in the course due to schedule conflicts. This is a crude measure, but will provide some information when more complex data isn’t available.

To measure these goals, you need the following for each CS course taught:

  • Applicable grades
  • Capacity - How many students can enroll across periods
  • Enrollment - How many students have enrolled across periods

How to Use the Spreadsheet

Make a copy of this spreadsheet and choose the Access tab. The box at the top provides the summary of the goals and if they are met or if improvement is needed.

screen shot of access tracking spreadsheet

 

The grey cells are cells that you edit. The purple text is sample text that you will replace with real data. The other cells are based on formulas and are locked.

screen shot of access tracking spreadsheet

 

Enter the name, applicable grades, capacity and enrollment. The summary at the top will update automatically.

Next Steps

You can use this data to start a conversation about CS at your school with your team lead and your administration. You can build a plan to add courses and additional sections over time. Another option is to encourage integration of CS content into core courses at your school. This will ensure all students get CS experience and this may be easier than adding new courses.

Try to connect with the person at the district level who oversees computer science. This person may be able to track more data more easily across schools. Ideally, the data would also be tracked across school years to show progress. CSforAll’s SCRIPT program is great for a district-level assessment of equitable computer science.

Providing equitable computer science education is a daunting effort! Especially if your school has limited CS now, it might seem like there isn’t much you can do. But strong CS programs are most often started by a single, passionate teacher who begins the conversation. This could be you!

Stay tuned for two additional posts from me on tracking data for diversity and inclusion.

Carol Ramsey is a CS for All Teachers community ambassador whose areas of interest include using narrative as pedagogy to increase interest and engagement in STEM for girls. She previously managed programs developing equity-focused curriculum and teacher professional development. She holds a computer science degree and has 20 years of experience as a software developer and program manager. Carol strives to bring positive tech experiences to under-represented students, to support more student opportunities and a more diverse tech workforce.