GVSU key partner in recently announced statewide effort to boost computer science education

A person typing on a keyboard
Image credit - Sarah Anderson

Grand Valley is a key partner in a pilot program to expand Advanced Placement computer science opportunities in Michigan, one of five states selected for the launch.

The May 10 announcement by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II and other partners outlined how the state will benefit from the $15 million investment by Code.org to launch a program in selected states that expands AP computer science offerings to more students, with an emphasis on equitable access.

Noting the value he has derived from his own background in the computer science field, Gilchrist said expanding opportunities in computer science for all students will equip them for 21st century jobs and strengthen the state's talent pool.

This program builds on work already done through a partnership among GVSU, Code.org, the state's MiSTEM network — designed to strengthen STEM education — and the College Board. Grand Valley leads coordination of K-12 computer science education in the state, while Code.org is a nonprofit computer science organization that provides curriculum and training resources.

Maria Cimitile, provost and executive vice president of academic and student affairs, said she is pleased with Grand Valley's ongoing work to help K-12 colleagues gain the knowledge and skills to become digitally fluent.

"These are skills that our society relies upon and we need our citizenry to be well-versed both in the skills and the ethical issues that accompany this reliance," Cimitile said. "I’m proud of my colleagues in the Regional Math and Science Center who have put professional development in the field of computer science at the forefront of their work."

Kris Pachla
Kris Pachla, director of the Regional Math and Science Center

Kris Pachla, director of the Regional Math and Science Center, said it is gratifying to expand on the work GVSU has already been doing.

“Hosting the Code.org statewide partnership within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has been an honor. We know that digital literacy and the foundations of computer science are interdisciplinary skills that will support 21st century liberal arts education," Pachla said. "The introduction of this new, inclusive college-level computer science curriculum across the state will allow us to build even stronger pathways for students to explore computer science, to strengthen and expand our partnership with Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, and to support the strategic initiatives across the university."

A critical component of the mission all along, and one that will be enhanced through this pilot program, is ensuring equity in access to computer science education, said Larry Wyn, MiSTEM Network CS program manager.

"With GVSU partnered with Code.org, we have the ability to broaden computer science education to all students regardless of gender, race or background. This access starts with a curriculum that intentionally takes into account the unique cultural perspectives, interests and experiences of Black, Latino, Native American (BLNA) and other underrepresented students," Wyn said. "By introducing students to technical courses, we will impact the larger systems by having a more diverse population attending post-secondary institutions and ultimately entering the technical workforce."


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