Will be trained to deliver practical computer science and digital literacy skills to their students across the city, thanks to an ambitious, four-year, $14 million initiative. This partnership between a higher education institution and the K-12 public school system to help teachers gain computer science and digital literacy skills is believed to be the largest effort of its kind in the nation.
The Computing Integrated Teacher Education initiative — or CITE — is funded through a public-private partnership that includes New York City Public Schools, CUNY, Google, Robin Hood and Gotham Gives. The recently launched initiative has already engaged 100 faculty across 12 CUNY colleges and will ultimately train more than 800 New York City teachers along with 200 future teachers.
“CITE builds upon the Adams administration’s early investments in youth pathways – the expansion of Summer Youth Employment Program, CUNY’s Inclusive Economies, and the DOE’s Career Readiness and Modern Youth Apprenticeship (CRMYA) program,” said Sheena Wright Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives. “CITE will help connect the dots between all of these efforts – career exposure, real-world work experiences and in-school education – by prioritizing the development of computational thinking skills in our classrooms.”
“We are focused on an ambitious goal to provide our students with a clear pathway to and preparation for a rewarding career and long-term economic security,” said Chancellor David C. Banks. “This initiative will play a key role in our reaching that goal by ensuring our educators are equipped to provide their students with the practical computer science and digital literacy skills they will need to succeed in the fields of computer science and technology more broadly. What our children can achieve is unlimited with the support of our teachers in preparing them for the 21st-century economy.”
“CUNY prepares a third of New York City’s new public school teachers each year, more than any other university, and the CITE initiative will help us contribute to public K-12 education in an important, new way,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “This initiative will teach more of the city’s public school teachers how computer science can be integrated into their students’ lives and enhance their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Bringing digital literacy into more classrooms will strengthen educational equity and, by extension, advance social justice and mobility, which are central to everything we do.”
The CITE initiative advances the city and state’s commitment to providing all K-12 students with computational thinking skills that are relevant to their lives. This work will further the progress of the Computer Science for All initiative of NYC Public Schools, which has expanded the number of computer science education opportunities available to students in New York City since 2015. Importantly, it will prepare them to incorporate computing as they advance in their education and begin to think about career paths.
The funding will support curriculum development, faculty training and scholarships for teachers. It will enable CUNY faculty to design new courses, enhance existing ones, and prepare public school teachers and education students to teach a range of computing topics, skills and issues. The initiative will provide scholarships that will cover course tuition for at least 800 working city teachers.
CITE brings CUNY together with New York City Public School’s Computer Science for All initiative, computing education researchers, and with community-based organizations that are working with schools to increase access to computing education. The initiative builds on innovative pilot projects at Hunter College and Queens College.
“The Robin Hood Learning + Technology Fund is proud of our investment in CUNY teacher education,” said Richard R. Buery Jr., CEO of Robin Hood. “In New York City, as is true throughout our country, you can map the opportunities a child has access to according to the zip code where they live. That is no less true for the core computational and technology skills critical to education opportunities and high-paying careers. To change this paradigm, we need to train thousands of teachers to support our students in their learning journeys. CUNY’s scale, vision and commitment to this work will prepare those teachers to bring quality K-12 computing education to all NYC public school students. We are confident that CUNY’s impressive work can catalyze a systemic shift in computer science education and economic opportunity in New York City.”
“Gotham Gives is proud to support this bold initiative, which is an important component of our efforts to bring high-quality computer science education to all New York City public school children,” said Fred Wilson, co-founder of Gotham Gives. “We are convinced that CUNY is the right partner to build this pipeline of prepared and skilled teachers.”
“One of the biggest challenges in trying to increase access to computer science is obviously teachers,” said Justin Steele, the Americas director for Google’s charitable arm, Google.org. “We know that low-income schools have half as many computer science offerings as higher-income schools, and a big reason for that is just the availability of teachers to teach the curriculum, and so the CUNY partnership is going to be really critical.”
Support for CITE comes at a crucial moment for New York City public schools, when many K-12 students have experienced pandemic-related learning interruptions and delays. The initiative will help teachers and their schools integrate computational thinking methods and digital technology in classes — enhancements that can broadly bolster their students’ learning. For instance, teachers who go through the training will be able to teach their students how to use computer algorithms to tackle complex tasks to bolster math and reading skills.
Teachers will also learn skills that they can turn into class projects — assigning students, for instance, to create apps for practical needs such as accessing nutritional information for foods or finding safe passage home at night. In addition, teachers will be able to use assistive technology such as screen readers, text-to-speech programs and special keyboards to expand access to learning and activities.
To give teachers the knowledge and skills they need to teach computer literacy more effectively, CITE courses will explore areas such as the impact of computing on society and students’ lives, with the goal of bringing these conversations into their classrooms. Teacher candidates will work on projects such as analyzing data about the school where they will student teach to better understand the needs of their students. Others could use computational thinking to create instruction approaches for students with different abilities or linguistic backgrounds.
The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university, a transformative engine of social mobility that is a critical component of the lifeblood of New York City. Founded in 1847 as the nation’s first free public institution of higher education, CUNY today has seven community colleges, 11 senior colleges and seven graduate or professional institutions spread across New York City’s five boroughs, serving over 243,000 undergraduate and graduate students and awarding 55,000 degrees each year. CUNY’s mix of quality and affordability propels almost six times as many low-income students into the middle class and beyond as all the Ivy League colleges combined. More than 80 percent of the University’s graduates stay in New York, contributing to all aspects of the city’s economic, civic and cultural life and diversifying the city’s workforce in every sector. CUNY’s graduates and faculty have received many prestigious honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 26 MacArthur “Genius” Grants. The University’s historic mission continues to this day: provide a first-rate public education to all students, regardless of means or background.
Photo credit: Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, CUNY.