BRIDGEPORT — With students that Skype, tweet and write blogs, Mark Sheridan Math & Science Academy was an ideal place to pilot a new CPS computer science curriculum.
The Bridgeport magnet school, 533 W. 27th St., is one of dozens across the city to get the nod for a newly announced program that aims to boost the level of computer science programming.
“It’s not just to teach technology but to teach it in all subject areas. So [students] are really going to start thinking in different ways,” said assistant principal Elizabeth Nessner.
Eventually, the city's "Computer Science for All" program would see one in four elementary schools offer introductory computer science coursework, at least one computer science class at every high school and would make computer science a core learning subject.
CPS says the goal of the program is to "bridge the digital divide and gender gap" in computer-related occupations.
According to the school district, fewer than 3 percent of American college students will graduate with a computer science degree. Of high school students taking Advanced Placement computer science courses, "fewer than 20 percent are women and fewer than 10 percent are African American or Latino."
The school district isn’t supplying extra equipment or positions for the new pilot program but will provide software and money for training teachers.
At Sheridan, that means revered technology teacher Katie Lavin will train two classroom teachers the finer points of the curriculum, which school leaders say is geared toward critical thinking about technology and its applications in society.
Samples of the coursework, which teaches students basic and advanced programming lessons, can be found at learn.code.org.
O’Connell said school leaders are now figuring out ways to factor in the new computer programs, which will require scheduling shifts because of another CPS mandate that requires more physical education instruction.
“We’re really going to have to go back to the drawing board with schedules and about how our day is going to be broken up. … How that’s going to look we’re not 100 percent sure,” he said.
The citywide push for computer science coursework will bring similar programs to 46 schools — 25 elementary schools and 21 high schools — across the city beginning next year.