Despite the Pandemic, 2020 CSforALL Commitment Maker, the Harris County School District (Hamilton, GA), Committed to Implementing a K-12 CSEd Program in the 2020–2021 Academic Year
2020 Commitment: Harris County Schools makes a commitment to develop student problem-solving skills through computational thinking by providing computer science courses to 3,200 students in grades 5–12 in Southwest Georgia.
Check out our CSforALL Commitment Q&A with Harris County School District (HCSD) below:
CSforALL: Why was making a 2020 CSforALL Commitment extremely important and different than any other year?
HCSD: In 2020, we saw a transformative shift in education which may forever change the academic environment. It is imperative we seize that opportunity to make significant change while our society is calling for empowering those who have not always had a voice. We must commit to actions that create a positive impact within our community.
CSforALL: How did Harris County School District develop their specific and measurable action to computer science?
HCSD: By analyzing student data and collaborating with local organizations, the Harris County School District developed a better understanding of community needs, student interests, and student ability. This led to a recognition that students needed to be introduced to problem solving skills through computational thinking at a young age to overcome stereotypes preventing underrepresented groups from pursuing the highly demanded fields in computer science.
The goal is to help students recognize their own potential at an earlier stage and generate a pipeline of talented students who will fill the employment opportunities in the local community.
CSforALL: What does ‘Prepare the Solvers — Problem Solvers Not Process Followers’ mean to your District?
HCSD: Our district motto is “One Team, One Dream.”
Our focus on Pre-K to graduation is to help students recognize and achieve their maximum potential so they can pursue their dreams. To do this we must work together across all grade levels to inspire independent thinking and self-motivated learning. This means preparing students to identify problems, evaluate options, and execute solutions.
CSforALL: What are your biggest learnings from the pandemic and working towards achieving equity?
HCSD: Computer science has the capability of empowering disadvantaged groups. Education in this field has the potential to provide an equal opportunity to underrepresented populations. It is a field where skill and ability are valued regardless of an individual’s background. As educators, we must leverage the power of computer science to level the playing field.
CSforALL: Can you share your action plan for this Commitment?
HCSD: Despite the pandemic, the Harris County School District implemented Phase 1 of our plan for a K-12 computer science program in the 2020–2021 academic year by:
- Expanding the high school program from six to ten classes per year
- Doubling the number of computer science competition teams and increasing involvement in female-only teams/competitions
- Implementing the offering of computer science courses to all 7th and 8th grade students
- Implementing technology and computational thinking connections courses taken by all 5th and 6th grade students
- Beginning the process for seven teachers to complete a computer science endorsement program for certification by November 2020
The Phase 2 plan includes:
- Increasing the high school program to 12 courses per year including four advanced placement courses
- Piloting technology and computational thinking instruction at the K-4 level
- Developing coding and technology clubs at the lower grade levels
About Harris County School District: HCSD is an accredited K-12 school system based in the county seat of Hamilton, Georgia. It serves nearly 5,500 students with four elementary schools, one intermediate school, one middle school, one high school, and one performance learning center. With a vision of “one community committed to educational excellence for every child,” Harris County School District continually strives to provide students what they need to become the future workforce and society.