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High school CS initiative offers certification

Source%3A+Luc+Paquette+
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High school CS initiative offers certification

Source: Luc Paquette

Source: Luc Paquette

Cindy Om

Source: Luc Paquette

Cindy Om

Cindy Om

Source: Luc Paquette

By Ashley Fu, Staff Writer

As technology is constantly evolving, computer science education needs to keep up with the times. While there aren’t enough certified or endorsed high school teachers qualified to teach the advancements in the state of Illinois, the University is aiming to make changes by implementing a support initiative.

The College of Education and the Department of Computer Science created the Illinois Secondary Teacher Education and Computer Science Initiative to endorse current high school computer science teachers and certify future teachers.

The initiative consists of two programs. The endorsement program, which the team plans on having ready by 2020, focuses on the training of high school computer science teachers. The certification program, which is planned to be ready by 2021, focuses on certifying the trained teachers.

Luc Paquette, professor in Education and coordinator of this five-year initiative, said there is currently no certification program for computer science education at the state level and that the I-STECS team will need to work with Illinois State Board of Education to create one.

Paquette is laying the groundwork and thinking of the sequence of courses necessary for the endorsement program.

Paquette said the endorsement program in the initiative will have teachers in the Champaign-Urbana area enroll in night or weekend classes with in-person and online options. Undergraduate students often attend the program because they are aspiring teachers, he said.

“What we did is put together this proposal and say there’s a big need in computer science education,” Paquette said. “We have one of the top computer sciences schools in the country here, and there’s not that many people doing computer science education in Illinois.”

Craig Zilles, professor in engineering and consultant for the initiative, sequences necessary courses for the endorsement program of the initiative. As a professor in this field, Zilles said he has a good sense of the type of courses necessary for a computer science endorsement.

“It’s increasingly clear that people that have computing skills have an advantage in the job market place that more and more disciplines are being influenced by things like big data and machine learning and automation,” Zilles said.

Zilles said the residents in the state are going to be more competitive in their careers due to more access to computing content, including at the high school level.

Paquette said Zilles has been helpful in this initiative by offering his insight on the logistics of the programs.

“I have had a great time collaborating with people in the College of Education on this. I am excited,” Zilles said. “It’s a great opportunity. It’s something that the way the University of Illinois can continue to contribute to the state.”

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