Group hopes to bring more computer science to rural Missouri students

A San Francisco-based teaching platform recently announced its new initiative to bring computer science coursework to rural Missouri students.

Claire Sindlinger, marketing manager for CodeHS, described the namesake teaching platform as pretty much everything a school needs to implement a computer science program. That includes "web-based curriculum, teacher tools and resources, and professional development," according to a news release.

CodeHS announced its "Code Missouri" initiative at the 2017 CS for All Summit in St. Louis.

Sindlinger said the initiative's goal is to select 15 rural school districts in the state to implement computer science programs in for the 2018-19 school year.

She said it's still being worked out what exactly qualifies a district as rural and how CodeHS could work around a possible lack of high-speed internet infrastructure in certain areas.

"We're really just trying to get as many schools as we can to hear about it and apply," she said.

The deadline for applying at is Dec. 6.

Sindlinger said what likely will determine whether an application is approved is if a school district is "set up to be successful" with the initiative. CodeHS is looking for a plan for implementation and a dedicated principal and teacher who will oversee the program at their school, she said.

CodeHS does offer AP Computer Science courses, but she said it's probably recommended that "(selected) schools be starting off with the introductory computer science classes" that introduce students to the internet, "how technology works and why it's important." Ultimately, she added, CodeHS will work with schools to determine what coursework offerings best suit their needs.

"Selected schools will be provided free sixth- through 12th-grade computer science curriculum pathway, professional development training for teachers, CodeHS Pro accounts for the district and ongoing implementation support," according to the news release.

Sindlinger said students who learn coding skills will learn to work with software like Javascript and Python, and eventually will build their own mobile app.

Code Missouri has a pilot program at Fayette High School.

"In a technology-driven world, coding is now a foundational (skill) for students. In 2015-16, only 14 percent of Missouri schools offered AP Computer Science courses. This percentage is even smaller in rural districts despite the fact that there are over 8,000 open computing jobs across Missouri," according to the news release.