Prairie Lakes AEA receives grant to train more computer science teachers
January 4, 2021
Teachers within Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency (AEA) will be able to enhance their computer science teaching skills thanks to a grant awarded recently by Gov. Kim Reynolds. Prairie Lakes AEA was one of 167 urban, rural and suburban school districts, nonpublic schools and Area Education Agencies receiving an award from the Computer Science Professional Development Incentive Fund which is intended to expand computer science instruction in Iowa’s K-12 schools.
The $68,300 awarded to Prairie Lakes AEA will fund a partnership between Drake University and the agency to offer three different courses: Computer Science Methods, Computer Science in the Elementary Classroom, and Introduction to Computer Science. There are 20 participants for each class and a stipend will pay for the class and credit. Registration for these courses will open soon. Some of the foreseeable outcomes will be increased opportunities for students to work hands-on with robotics, physical computing, along with exposure to a multitude of careers fields connected to computer science.
“It can be difficult for our rural schools to find a teacher who has a strong background in computer science,” said Torrey Proctor, the Prairie Lakes AEA consultant who is coordinating this partnership. “These Drake courses will prepare teachers to deliver CSTA aligned computer science curriculum to their students. Some teachers may even choose to build upon the credit they have earned from their Drake course in order to obtain a computer science teaching endorsement.”
The 2020-21 Incentive Fund drew 33 applications. Of those, 18 awards totaling $883,097 will go to school districts, nonpublic schools and Area Education Agencies that created collaborative proposals to serve multiple schools. Training that will result in teachers being ready to teach computer science in the next six to 12 months is a priority. Recipients will report their progress after the 2020-21 school year
The Computer Science Professional Development Incentive Fund awards are part of a broad commitment to expand computer science instruction in K-12 schools across Iowa. In 2017, Senate File 274 established the fund to pay for teacher professional development, including training to teach specific computer science courses and earning in-depth university endorsements to teach computer science. In 2020, Governor Reynolds proposed and the Legislature passed House File 2629 requiring K-12 schools to offer computer science education to all students, starting with high schools in 2022-23.
The full release from the governor can be found here.