Teachers within Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency (AEA) will be able to continue enhancing their computer science teaching skills thanks to a grant awarded recently by Gov. Kim Reynolds. This is the second year that Prairie Lakes AEA has received this grant which funds a partnership with Drake University which enables teachers to take Computer Science courses tuition-free.
Registration and course information has been shared with teachers in Prairie Lakes AEA. However, educators from all Iowa schools are welcome to participate in any, or all, of the three courses (Computer Science Methods, Computer Science in the Elementary Classroom, and Introduction to Computer Science). With the $68,800 award, Prairie Lakes AEA strives to have 80 teachers participate. (The agency met its 2021 target as 60 teachers participated.)
Teachers will receive a stipend that will pay for the class and credit. 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 career 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 a computer science curriculum to their students that aligns to the standards established by the Computer Science Teachers Association. 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.”
Iowa’s students and teachers will also benefit from another grant focused on computer science. Iowa’s nine Area Education Agencies also have received computer science grant funding from the Iowa Department of Education that will provide close to $1 million in computer science professional development and impact nearly 850 educators this summer. The grant will be used to pay for the professional learning opportunity, and it also provides a stipend for teachers who participate in that professional development.
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.