National Science Foundation grant to develop pathways from high school to career
CLEVELAND, OH (September 24, 2020) – Cleveland State University has received a four-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop and support college and career pathways for high school students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) who are interested in pursuing careers in computer science and information technology. A key goal of this project is to broaden participation in the field of computing by providing specific supports to students of color and women – populations that have traditionally been underrepresented in computing and IT careers.
The Cleveland Tech Talent Pipeline project, led by Debbie Jackson, Ed.D., chair of CSU’s department of Teacher Education, is a collaborative initiative involving CSU, CMSD, TECH CORPS and Teaching & Learning Collaborative, Health IT Talent and the Cleveland Foundation. Co-principal investigators are Chansu Yu, Ph.D., professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Brian Harper, Ph.D., JD, associate professor in CSU’s department of Curriculum and Foundations.
“We are extremely excited to continue the work of ensuring that CMSD students have opportunities and access to computer science education and careers,” said Jackson. “There are currently 32 CMSD teachers who have been trained to teach high school computer science courses; the next step is to develop a program for CMSD students that includes internship and summer opportunities as well as mentoring and support from 9th grade through college and career.”
The grant will enable the partners to develop a series of summer workshop and internship programs beginning in 2021 for CMSD high school students, and a mentoring program for students who matriculate to college and careers. The research, led by Dr. Brian Harper, will study the impacts of the programs on the students – particularly students of color – and on the businesses that provide internships with the goal of developing a model that could be used by other school districts. CSU will also continue to provide professional development to teachers to teach computer science and information technology and research the impacts of the curriculum.
“We welcome CSU’s creation of a pipeline that leads our graduates to futures in computer science and IT,” CMSD Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon said. “A primary goal of The Cleveland Plan, our blueprint for education reform, is to prepare students for college and careers that are in demand. That includes providing real-world experience like internships and connecting them to mentors in the field.”
Students in the program will also be able to transition from CMSD to two- and four-year degree programs building on the supports that are currently available at both Cuyahoga Community College and CSU, or directly into a computer science or information technology career that do not require college degrees. The principal investigators will work with Expanding Computing Education Pathways (an NSF-funded national alliance) and the Ohio STEM Learning Network to share what they learn with other districts in the local, state and national communities.
CSU formed a partnership with CMSD several years ago with a research practice partnership, which provided professional development to teachers with the goal of having at least one computer science class taught at each CMSD high school. In addition, CSU provides opportunities for CMSD K-8 teachers to learn to integrate computer science and computational thinking in math and science lessons.