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Clear Lake and Osage among schools, districts awarded funding to expand computer science

DES MOINES – Forty-nine Iowa school districts and schools will receive money from a new $1 million fund to build their computer science teacher workforce, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced on Tuesday.

The funding is part of a broader effort to expand computer science education in schools across the state. This effort is in line with the Future Ready Iowa initiative, which is about preparing more Iowans for rewarding, high-demand jobs and getting employers the skilled workers they need.

“This funding for teachers underscores Iowa’s commitment to giving all students access to the computer science skills and training necessary to fill the jobs of the future,” Gov. Reynolds said. “In a technology-driven economy, it’s essential that students learn the basics of computer science, starting in elementary school, so they have the opportunity to explore these career paths and the foundation to take more advanced courses. They deserve to be prepared for great Iowa computer science jobs, if that is what they want to do.”

The new computer science professional development incentive fund, along with new voluntary statewide computer science standards, were established as part of a 2017 bill that encourages high-quality computer science instruction in every elementary, middle and high school.

Schools will use the incentive fund to pay for professional learning or university coursework for teaching endorsements in computer science.

The incentive fund, announced in June, drew 29 applications representing 49 public school districts and nonpublic schools in urban, rural and suburban parts of the state. One application represented a team of rural elementary, middle and high schools within Keystone Area Education Agency in northeast Iowa.

All 49 schools and districts will receive funding to pay for a range of teacher preparation, including courses for teaching endorsements, intensive training, conferences and professional learning programs that prepare educators to provide high-quality instruction in computer science. Award recipients will report on their progress by the end of the 2018-19 school year.

“This is a great opportunity for schools and districts that are just getting started in computer science, as well as those that have a solid foundation from which to build,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “There are many talented, dedicated educators throughout Iowa, and this is about building their capacity to deliver high-quality computer science instruction at every grade level.”

Iowa legislators set aside $500,000 for the incentive fund. The rest of the money will come from a 2007 settlement of an Iowa class-action anti-trust lawsuit filed against Microsoft Corp. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Iowans who had bought the company’s programs at allegedly inflated prices, and the settlement agreement included setting aside a portion of unclaimed money for technology in Iowa schools.

Click here to see the list of 49 schools and districts.

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