Ludington, Pentwater, Baldwin schools to launch state’s new AP computer science courses
BALDWIN — Ludington, Pentwater and Baldwin high schools will be among only 72 schools in Michigan to launch new advanced placement computer science courses next year.
“There are 72 teachers from around the state involved in this and it’s likely to be the biggest AP launch in Michigan’s history,” said Kathy Surd, director of the Mason-Lake Oceana Mathematics and Science Center.
Surd said Code.org is responsible for launching the new program by providing grant money to train the teachers. She said Code.org is a non-profit organization that seeks to provide all students in America access to computer science.
The Michigan Mathematics and Science Centers Network (MMSCN) is the recipient of the grant money for the state and the West Shore Educational Service District will serve as the grant manager and fiscal agent for the program, Surd said.
The amount of money needed to train the 72 Michigan teachers is not yet known, said Surd, but will be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“We’ve had such a great response in Michigan,” she said. “It’s a statewide initiative coming out of Ludington, which is pretty impressive. We were selected by Code.org to do this.”
Those 72 teachers are scheduled for a week’s worth of training in Philadelphia during the summer and then begin teaching the new AP computer science principles classes in the fall.
Surd said the teachers will also receive four more days of follow-up training during the school year and also be supported online.
“We will support them for the full first year of teaching students,” she said.
Teaching the new class locally will be Jon Stowe at Ludington High School, Miguel Quinteros at Pentwater High School and Brandi Paepke at Baldwin High School.
Surd informed the Ludington school board about the new program during the board’s regular meeting Monday.
Need for the class
According to information Surd provided to the school board Monday, computing occupations are the number one source of all new wages in the United States.
The information also showed the average salary for a computing occupation in Michigan is $78,001, which is higher than the average salary of $46,310.
According to the MMSCN, the AP computer science principles classes are also designed to engage students who are traditionally underrepresented in computer science — including females, underrepresented minorities and rural students — by introducing them to the field’s foundational concepts through creative problem solving and real-world applications of technology.
“In Michigan, there are more than nine open computing jobs for every student who earns a computing degree,” said Trevor Packer, senior vice president of advanced placement instruction at the College Board. “We designed AP computer science principles to increase career readiness among students in all types of schools, from small, rural schools — where connectivity is currently limited — to large, urban schools that serve many low-income students. The MMSCN-Code.org collaboration will significantly increase access to computer science education in Michigan high schools. It is a model for how sustainable, high-quality, computer science professional development can be done.”
“Math and science centers play an integral role in providing STEM programming for students across the state while ensuring our educators have access to necessary professional learning opportunities“, said Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, who is chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12 School Aid and Education. “This exciting, new partnership will allow for educators to better prepare our students to be able to compete for the jobs that await them in this global economy. It is important that we continue to invest in math and science centers and their programming so that Michigan can become a premier STEM education state.”
“Giving our students every advantage possible will help make Michigan a top 10 education state in 10 years,” said State Superintendent Brian Whiston. “Preparing our educators and students with informed and structured content for computer science and coding is a major step in that direction. It is exciting to now be able to expand these opportunities for students throughout Michigan.”
“Computer science is important for Michigan students,” said Surd. “The Michigan Mathematics and Science Centers Network is excited to work with the College Board and Code.org to make these opportunities viable for students in Michigan.