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Connecting Colleges & High Schools

It's hard to believe that summer is almost over and classes will be starting soon for most of us. I'd like to introduce myself to the blog - I am Dave Reed, the new College Rep on the CSTA Board of Directors. I am computer science faculty at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and come to the CSTA Board after finishing my term as Chief Reader of AP Computer Science.

For those of you who attended the CS&IT Symposium in Washington, D.C., I hope you were able to attend Steve Cooper's informative and entertaining session on funding for CS education. One of the points that Steve made, that I heartily concur with, is that many opportunities currently exist for connecting college and high school teachers. I know numerous college teachers who would love to network with their counterparts at local high schools - to share ideas and resources, or simply find kindred spirits interested in computer science education. Unfortunately, making the connection has not always been easy. Tenure-track faculty at colleges are often under pressure to do scholarship, and time spent away from research or direct student contact may negatively impact chances for promotion.

Two things have changed the culture of connection in the past few years.

1) One positive consequence of the drop in college CS enrollments is that college administrations are now more receptive to outreach. In addition to providing professional development for college teachers, partnering with high school teachers helps them to better understand the students that they are hoping to attract. Furthermore, introducing high school students to CS career opportunities and the specifics of their college program can be effective in raising the number of college CS students.

2) CSTA has stepped up and provided a simple but effective framework for building local networks. Forming a CSTA Chapter is a fairly straightforward task (see http://csta.acm.org/About/sub/CSTAChapters.html for details, or email chapters@csta.acm.org). Once formed, regular CSTA Chapter meetings provide a forum for interested college and high school teachers to get together. The CSTA Chapter Liaison will provide advice and support, and will even provide the chapter with contact information of local CSTA members.

So, if you are a high school teacher interested in knowing how to better prepare your students for college and/or CS careers, or a college teacher who would like the opportunity to better understand and attract high school students, I encourage you to look into organizing a CSTA Chapter.

Dave Reed (davereed@creighton.edu)
CSTA Board of Directors

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