Struggling teacher in front of a growing pile of books

Is Washington Ready for a CS Graduation Requirement?

On Dec 15, Sen. Wellman (D) and Sen. Nobles (D) prefiled SB 5849 (2024) Relating to a computer science competency graduation requirement.   SB 5849 specifies that by the Class of 2029 must show competency in computer science by taking a stand-alone CS course, passing a competency exam, or through some other means.  From a practical standpoint, taking a CS course becomes a graduation requirement that all students must fulfill starting from the 2025-26 school year.   If SB 5849 passes as is, our school system has one year to prepare for the transition.    
SB 5849 does not provide any additional services or funding to schools or teachers beyond what is already available to assist in the transition of CS from an optional CTE subject taken by a fraction of students to something closer to a "core" subject taken by all students.  SB 5849 does not increase the number of high school credits required for graduation.
According to Lawrence Tanimoto, PSCSTA Advocacy Lead, "SB 5849 deserves the CS education community's full attention.   I believe that a CS graduation requirement is the only way that we will significantly increase both the quality and the quantity of CS education in Washington. For that, I am thankful that Sen Wellman and Sen Nobles are considering this bill. However, given the current low rate of students currently enrolled in CS courses and severe shortage of qualified CS teachers throughout Washington, introducing a CS graduation requirement without a credible plan or budget to achieve it, enacting the bill will lead to more harm than good."
What are your thoughts on SB 5849?   Share your thoughts and get updates by visiting the PSCSTA community thread (👥) Is Washington Ready for A CS Education Requirement?

Why are people so afraid of computers?

Probably because they byte.

February 2024 Issue

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Welcome Washington CS Ed Community!

How are you going to be spending the extra day this month? Will you be in the classroom or celebrating a birthday that hasn't happened in 4 years? Regardless, welcome to the February 2024 edition of the CSTA Puget Sound (aka "PSCSTA") newsletter.

This month we have insightful articles on Washington being ready for possible graduation requirements, opportunities to host your own educational meetup, a variety of Washington PD Clock Hours, and more to share that are unique from our January connector. Didn't see the January issue? Don't fret, you can now view all issues by clicking on the drop-down menu under News at the top of our home page!
We hope you find our monthly connector useful and entertaining. If you have any comments about the current edition or ideas  for future editions, please email :)
Please forward this newsletter to others you know in the CS education community.  This content and most links will also be publicly available on our website.   A few links designated by (👥) require a chapter membership to access our community content.   Not a member?   It's free.  Just visit our website and press the "Join CSTA Puget Sound" button. 
animated PNW Snow Computer Science
Member Spotlight: Rena Clark
Rena Clark is a district STEM Facilitator and CS education champion in the Renton School District.   She works on district-level projects and directly supports four elementary schools.   
Rena is also a member of the CSTA Conference Committee - the CSTA 2024 Annual Conference is July 16-19 in Las Vegas.   She has actively contributed to AVID's open education resource, including the series Demystifying Computational Thinking, and hosts the podcast Unpacking Education by AVID Open Access.
Population Supported:
  • Schools: Benson Hill (471 students), Cascade (445 students), Renton Park (371 students), Tiffany Park (372 students)
  • Renton School District consists of 16 elementary schools with 6572 students (14,156 Total)
Notable projects/courses:
  • Currently serves as an elementary STEM Facilitator for the Renton School District. In her present capacity, Rena mostly supports math and science while also championing the implementation of CS in elementary education.
  • Actively teaches CS in two 4th-grade classrooms and one 5th-grade classroom, collaborating closely with classroom teachers.  The teachers aim to take over parts of the lessons and then feel confident enough to teach independently next year.
  • Earlier this year, Rena collaborated with elementary librarians to create several 20-minute CS lessons designed for library time and utilizing the Code & Go Mouse.  These lessons were an initial effort to expand CS opportunities in the library.
  • In addition to special programs at Renton's STEM school and within schools in the Renton Innovation Zone, elementary schools in the Renton SD focus on creating CS pathways for students, ensuring and creating a comprehensive and integrated approach to CS education.
  • Renton SD recently received a CS grant via FP777 that the Renton School Foundation matched.   The grant will enable the district to offer paid professional learning, support, creation of additional lessons, and physical materials to 30 elementary teachers for teaching CS.

Areas of pride:
  • Renton SD keeps trying to provide CS opportunities for our students despite many obstacles.
  • Partnership between the CTE department and elementary to think about CS Pathways K-12.
  • How our Teacher Academy provides and teaches CS lessons to elementary students.
Biggest challenge:
Our biggest challenge now is time. Our limited resources and time constraints underscore the urgency of integrating CS into the curriculum. Overcoming these hurdles will require us to be innovative and commit to creating dedicated space and time for CS education.
How PSCSTA can best support CS in elementary schools:
Local chapters can support elementary school educators by supporting the integration of CS into teacher prep programs. Showing up and actively contributing to these programs will create CS pathways going forward. 
  • Started teaching 6th grade CS in Kent SD, in my 9th year of teaching. 
  • Digital Learning Coach in Renton SD in 2016.   Launched and contributed to the collaborative development of elementary CS materials, including several cross-district and state collaborations.
  • Graduate Certificate in K-12 Computer Science from Michigan State (2021).
  • University of Washington Danforth Educational Leadership for Principal and Program Administration certifications (2023).
Data Corner: CS Enrollment Percentage 
CS Enrollment Percentage 2023 (Washington 5.0%, National 5.8%)
According to the 2023 State of CS Education Report, the CS Enrollment Percentage in Washington was 5.0% vs. the national average of 5.8%. The CS Enrollment Percentage is the number of CS course enrollments divided by the number of students. 
Washington's CS Enrollment Percentage of 5.0% is also far below the 12.5% expected if a semester-long introductory CS course were mandatory for all students. And many students may want to take more than an introductory CS course.
The 2021-22 K-12 Computer Science Education Data Summary Report (XLSX) summarized on the CS for Washington indicates that the CS Enrollment percentage was 8.4% in 2021-22. 
The reason for the differences between these two data points (5.0% in 2022-23 vs. 8.4% in 2021-22) should be investigated even considering different time frames.  Two known factors:
  • The state data include course enrollments that the national data does not.  Example: About 25% of state data comes from Web Design courses not included in national data.
  • Although the summary provided by in the state report indicates CSE of 8.4%, summarizing the separate school data also provided by the report indicates a CSE of 7.6%   

Regional Meetups

Catherine Wyman and Jennifer Styer organized our first regional meetup on Jan 16th at Skagit Valley College. This meetup was a blast full of peer collaboration, pizza eating, and learning about CS pathways for students. Particularly from Skagit Valley College, Everett Community College, and Western Washington University. There was a total of 27 attendees, and those individuals were able to earn 1 STEM Clock Hour provided by SVC. 
After that meetup one thing is clear, there is a desire for more conversation across CS Educators. Educators want to collaborate with the curriculum, talk about how to better align HS classes to colleges, and more. It's never too late to organize your own in-person meetup. Whether it be - regional, topic-specific, or just fun, PSCSTA will support your meeting endeavors by helping fund the meetup. This amount funded will be based on the number of members attending.  See Create your own CS Educator meetup to learn more.
Picture of swag from the NW Regional Meetup 
If you live or work in an area supported by one of the other Washington CSTA Chapters:  Mid-Columbia, Spokane, or Central Washington, please view those chapters to view their local offerings.   Joining one or more CSTA chapters - including PSCSTA - is free.
Picture from the NW Regional Meetup
Partner Spotlight: Amazon Future Engineer
Amazon Future Engineer - a childhood-to-Career STEM education program- encourages students around the world- particularly those from underserved and historically underrepresented communities - to explore and pursue Computer Science (CS) and STEM careers.  In 2023, 3.9 million students globally participated in Amazon's education programs. About 80% of these students were Title 1 eligible.

Beyond inspiring the students from underrepresented communities, Amazon Future Engineer extends its impact to the Puget Sound community through philanthropic education initiatives. Last year, 189 schools and over 49,000 Puget Sound students immersed themselves in STEM education, literacy programs, and career exploration courses funded by Amazon Future Engineer. Notably, $360,000 in scholarships brightened the future for nine Puget Sound students, offering them the chance to study CS or related fields at their chosen colleges, coupled with a paid internship at Amazon for hands-on experience and mentorship from tech leaders.

Since November 2018, Amazon Future Engineer has fervently invested in the future of students, teachers, and education systems, enhancing access to CS education in three impactful ways:

  1. Curriculum Enhancement: Amazon Future Engineer provides funds for high-quality CS curriculum and educator professional learning, fostering sustainable K–12 CS initiatives. This includes a noteworthy commitment of $2.25 million to support Indigenous schools in accessing culturally responsive CS curriculums.

  2. Virtual Engagement: Amazon Future Engineer facilitates learning through virtual class chats, career tours, and project-based learning modules, enriching the educational experience for students.

  3. Empowering Futures: Amazon Future Engineer shapes futures by offering college scholarships, paid internships, and industry mentors, paving the way for success.

Amazon has also collaborated with the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) to strengthen CS education in the United States. A recent milestone includes a substantial $1.5 million donation to CSTA, empowering the future of CS Education. Explore the impact of this donation and dive deeper into the collaboration HERE.

Educators that are interested in learning more about what Amazon Future Engineer has to offer check out their website HERE. Make sure to also subscribe to their Newsletter to stay up to date on all of Amazon Future Engineer opportunities.

February Education Updates
The Jan 2024 cohort of the PSCSTA CS Endorsement Exam Prep Course for Washington commenced on Jan 22 with 4 participants.  
If you know of a teacher or junior/senior in a teacher prep program interested in getting endorsed in CS in preparation for SB 5849, let them know about this course and the scholarships that are available.
The Winter Session of CSTA online courses is from Jan 8 to Mar 17.  These courses are free to CSTA+ members.  PSCSTA provides free Washington clock hours for these courses for all its members - CSTA+ membership not required. Visit the PSCSTA website for the list of available courses and more details. 
February Event Updates
Going to NCCE 2024 in Seattle Feb 14 -16? Be sure to join PSCSTA Board members Jacqueline Russell and Elizabeth Bacon for their presentation "How CSTA Can Help You!"   The first 12 attendees will receive a slice of pie.  
Going to SIGCSE 2024 in Portland Mar 20-23?   PSCSTA President Lauren Bricker is hosting a Birds of a Feather event for CSTA members on Mar 21 at 4:30.  We will also be looking for other opportunities to connect with CSTA members in southwest Washington who cannot attend SIGCSE during this week. 
Where's the Extravaganza?
In Sep 2023, PSCSTA announced the Washington Computer Science Education Extravaganza - an online competition for schools running culminating with CSEd week.  Computer science teachers and their students participate in various pro-CSEd activities to earn points for their school to determine "the most fabulous" computer science high schools in Washington.
Despite high hopes, the start of the Extravaganza was first postponed from Oct 2023 to Feb 2024.  We are now postponing the Extravaganza indefinitely.  Establishing the critical mass of volunteers, sponsors, teachers, and students has been far more challenging to make the event worthwhile than we had contemplated.
PSCSTA will continue to look for ways to replace the benefits we hoped to bring to Washington's CS education community through the Extravaganza - the Connector is one of these - and asks for your understanding.       

Become More Involved in PSCSTA

Interested in becoming more involved in PSCSTA? Come join us for our next general meeting over zoom on Wednesday, March 6th at 6:30PM which will have also have a facilitated discussion regarding AI topics. We are always looking for your input and this is a great place to do just that! The Leadership board meets monthly and opens up meetings to general members once each quarter. 
If you are interested in joining the Leadership board stay tuned for election information coming soon. We are hoping new folks are interested in taking on Leadership roles for the PSCSTA, elections will be taking place in June. 
Upcoming Events
PSCSTA Donate via Credit Card "Event"
Sep 01, 2023 - Aug 31, 2024
CS Endorsement Exam Prep Course for Washington State - June 2024 Cohort
Mar 01, 2024 - Mar 31, 2025
View entire list
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