RD244 - CodeVA 2019-20 State Report
Four years ago, the Virginia General Assembly passed groundbreaking, first-in-the-nation legislation mandating computer science (CS) literacy as a requirement for all Virginia students. The legislation, and the resulting Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) for CS, requires CS as an integrated subject for all Virginia students from kindergarten to 8th grade, and establishes mandatory standards for a pathway sequence of elective courses for middle and high school.
This legislation, along with CodeVA’s computer science-focused professional development program for K-12 public school teachers and validated awareness by state leaders of the importance of CS to Virginia’s present and future economy, have helped define a series of recent successes promoting Virginia as a state that invests in future workforce necessary to high tech industry and advancement. Not the least among these successes have been announcements by companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and others of significant business development investments in the Commonwealth. Amazon explicitly cited the K-12 CS SOL as an influence in its decision to locate its HQ2 in Virginia.
Policy and implementation are two different things: In 2019, the Virginia budget took an important step of providing direct state funding to the state’s existing computer science teacher professional development initiative, CodeVA. CodeVA is a nonprofit organization founded in 2013, which in addition to providing statewide scaled teacher professional development at no cost to school divisions and teachers, also has served as an advocacy resource for the state, and played a role in the 2016 CS SOL mandate legislation by crafting the legislation that was adopted. While the organization is independent in its governance, it works closely with the Virginia Department of Education and other education and industry stakeholders to ensure Virginia has regionally accessible capacity for teacher professional development and school division resources.
In addition to state funding, CodeVA also brings to bear resources from other state agencies, including the Virginia Tobacco Commission, numerous higher education centers in southwest and Southside Virginia, Federal research funding from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education, as well as corporate and foundation dollars.
At its core, CodeVA is a comprehensive, scalable, statewide Computer Science teacher training, support and curriculum development nonprofit organization, founded with the intention of ensuring that Virginia students are ready to meet the demands of a 21st century workforce.
CodeVA’s combination of funding, public and private partnerships, expertise and capacity provide a path forward to ensuring computer science literacy for all Virginia learners.
A national model for other states also engaged nationally in what is known as CSforALL, CodeVA is a proven and cost-effective means of ensuring high-quality, teacher led Computer Science professional development is available to Virginia classroom teachers. The program also works with national partners, research institutions, and - most importantly - Virginia teachers to develop and iterate curriculum and resources that follow a student from K-5 formative literacy to middle school embedded use of concepts in other subjects like math, science and social studies, and on to high school language-specific standard and advanced-level pathways classes.