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MORE CS FUNDING: Hutchinson has made computer science his signature education issue (file photo).
Due to high demand from teachers, Governor Hutchinson on Wednesday allocated an additional $300,000 to provide stipends for elementary and middle school educators who complete training modules in teaching computer science.
The money will fund stipends for 150 teachers statewide who pursue the training, which begins this summer. The $300,000 announced Wednesday is in addition to $500,000 the governor originally allocated in December for 250 stipend slots statewide. Hutchinson has made K-12 computer science programming his hallmark education initiative.
Funding for the new stipend slots will come from the Arkansas Department of Education's Office of Computer Science. The training will be administered through Arkansas's regional education co-ops by dedicated computer science specialists from the ADE.
To sign up for the training, teachers should contact the ADE's Anthony Owen, the state director of Computer Science Education, or their local cooperative. There will be 25 seats available per cooperative, and the new funding will also allow for an additional training site in the greater Little Rock area. There's no limitation on the number of teachers per school or per district that are eligible, but based on past experience, the seats will fill up very fast, Owen said.
"Honestly, I did not dream that we would fill all of the 250 slots that we had initially announced ... less than a week after we launched," he told the Arkansas Times
. He said that 500 slots was
likely the maximum the state could support in its initial year of the program.
After finishing the training this summer, teachers should then complete the Grade 4-12 Praxis exam for computer science, allowing them to become fully certified to teach the subject. (The ADE will reimburse teachers the $120 for the cost of the Praxis, Owen said.) They then are expected to provide professional development to other teachers in their school on basic digital literacy standards and other topics.
Any licensed elementary or middle school teacher in any subject is eligible for the training, Owen said, not just science and math teachers. "Almost every teacher can incorporate digital literacy in their classroom. ... We’re not identifying a single group of teachers at the K-8 level that we’re specifying should do this," he said.
The ADE also has a similar stipend program for high school teachers, but it requires participants to teach a state-approved computer science class after completion.
The full press release from the governor's office:
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson has added $300,000 to the initial $500,000 he allocated last year to train K-8 teachers to teach computer science, he announced on Tuesday.
The money for the K-8 Computer Science Lead Teacher Stipend and Training Program comes from the budget of the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) Office of Computer Science.
The Governor announced creation of the K-8 stipend program during Computer Science Education Week in December of last year and authorized the initial $500,000 for training elementary and middle school teachers to become Computer Science Lead teachers.
Governor Hutchinson allocated the additional $300,000 for stipends because of the high level of interest and the high demand for computer science teachers in Arkansas’s elementary and middle schools.
“Every educator who takes up the challenge to teach computer science to our youngest students not only enhances the life of the student but is building on Arkansas’s reputation as a high-tech leader,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This is the way to an even stronger workforce and economy that will improve the quality of life for all Arkansans. I am grateful to lead a state whose educators and lawmakers understand this and are willing to fund it.”
The additional money will support 150 more teachers to join the 250 who already have signed up for the training, said Anthony Owen, state director of Computer Science Education.
“When the ADE Computer Science team started planning the K-8 Lead Teacher program, we knew it would be successful,” Director Owen said. “However, the interest locally and nationally has grown well beyond our expectations. Almost every spot that was originally allocated for the program was taken within a week of Governor Hutchinson’s announcement in December. This additional funding is important for the #CSforAR / #ARKidsCanCode initiative. The governor recognizes that in order for Arkansas to continue to lead the nation in the Computer Science Education, we need teachers.”
To be eligible for the full $2,000 stipend, a computer science lead teacher must be a licensed educator at an Arkansas public elementary or middle school; attend a five-day professional development session provided at no cost by the Arkansas Department of Education Office of Computer Science; obtain the 528 Computer Science Endorsement; and provide a requisite number of one-on-one support and school-wide professional development hours to other educators.
Additional information of the K-8 Computer Science Lead Teacher Program can be accessed at http://adecm.arkansas.gov/ViewApprovedMemo.aspx?Id=3443.