Building the CS4NC Initiative

CS4NC: NC Chapter of ECEP

Started in 2016, CS4NC is the North Carolina chapter of the Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance — a consortium of states taking the lead to innovate with coordinated statewide computing education initiatives. CS4NC is a collective from across NC with representatives from the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State’s College of Education, the NC Department of Public Instruction, the UNC-Charlotte College of Computing and Informatics, the NC State Department of Computer Science, the NC School of Science and Math, and the Computer Science Teachers Association. CS4NC is focused on increasing awareness of computing education and coordinating activities and initiatives that will help us grow our computing education networks of educators and computing industry professionals alike.

Igniting the CS4NC Initiative

In the Spring of 2017, CS4NC convened the NC Computing Education Summit on the campus of NC State University at the Friday Institute. The cross-sector event served as the kick-off to the statewide coordinated effort to advance Computing Education and Computer Science for All in North Carolina. With a wealth of computer science activities emerging in North Carolina, it was a unique opportunity to connect and leverage efforts into a statewide initiative.

Based on conversations kindled at the summit, legislative leaders passed a resolution calling for the Superintendent of North Carolina to make recommendations to the General Assembly “to further the teaching and student learning of computational thinking and computer science in North Carolina K-12 schools.” This legislation and the subsequnt report to the NC Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee directly led to the CS4NC Initiative, and these recommendations have served as the roadmap for Phase 1 of the CS4NC Initiative.

As part of the 2018-2019 state budget, the NC General Assembly called for the implementation of the State’s Computer Science Plan. The recurring funds were allocated to create a position in the Department of Public Instruction to oversee the implementation of the plan. Effectively this codified the CS4NC Initiative into Law.

CS4NC Initiative: Implementation Begins

In January 2019, the State Board of Education created the Special Committee of Digital Learning and Computer Science to oversee the for delivering high quality Computer Science Education to all over our public schools. Chaired by Lt. Governor Dan Forest, the Special Committe formed a Computer Science Steering Committee of cross-sector experts on computer science, technology, and education. The Steering Committee initial goal was to to vet and present Computer Science standards to the State Board of Education. Working with the Friday Institute, the Committee members reviewed national standards as well as peer state standards. The Committee engaged members of the State’s technology industry as well as national experts on Computer Science education to prepare the draft NC K-12 Computer Science Standards.

In April of 2019, Dr. Mary Hemphill became the State’s first Director of Computer Science and Technology Education. She joined the Steering Committee and presented these standards to the State Board of Education in June of 2019. At this meeting the Board of Education, unanimously voted to add Computer Science to the NC Standard Course of Study.