Ohio educators wanting to become part of the state’s drive to improve computer science education must earn additional professional development credits by 2021. Education leaders pushed for the new standard, believing that investment in better-prepared teachers and more quality computer science courses will pay large dividends for Ohio in the long run.
Fresno Pacific University has created a computer science licensure program that meets the state’s new standards. Educators who earn the graduate-level professional development credits offered through the program can qualify to teach computer science courses for grades 7 through 12 in Ohio.
To enter the Fresno Pacific program, teachers must first submit a request for approval from their school district’s administrator or their school’s principal. Approval must come from officials in the district or school where they plan to teach.
What Fresno Pacific University Offers
Ohio lawmakers passed the new regulations with an effective date of July 1, 2021. The motivation behind the law is to increase the number of teachers in Ohio who have professional development, specifically in teaching computer science courses.
Fresno Pacific University has provided online professional development courses to teachers for years. As with other courses, the university offers the computer science licensure program 100% online.
Each 3-unit course in the program lasts eight weeks. Teachers complete one course at a time. Fresno Pacific University hires highly qualified instructors for the course with experience in teaching K-12 and higher education computer science courses. The cost is only $600 per course.
- Information Technology Basics
- Computational Thinking
- Computing Practices and Programming
- The Impacts and Ethics of Computing
Why Ohio Made the Change
Lawmakers passed the law to increase both the number and skill level of computer science teachers in Ohio. In testimony before the Ohio State Senate on the bill, Kelly Gaier Evans with the nonprofit science and technology company Battelle said that better-educated teachers can give students the foundational knowledge of computer science that is “critical for success in today’s world.”
She added, “Every 21st-century student should have a chance to learn how today's digital world works. Computer science builds. It creates. Students deserve to learn how to create algorithms, how to make an app, and how the internet works.”
She also reported that only 37% of Ohio school districts offer at least one high school computer science course, and only 141 Ohio schools offer an AP Computer Science course.
With the change in law, Ohio leaders hope to improve those numbers. To show their commitment, they have offered to reimburse teachers the cost of earning the required professional development credits to teach computer science.
Total funding for the reimbursement is $1.5 million for 2020 and 2021. Teachers can apply for reimbursement of coursework costs and testing fees spent securing a computer science supplemental teaching license.
The state gives priority to those willing to teach at least one remote computer science course for students at a school with no computer science educators. The state also gives “second priority” to teachers who work in schools with more than 50% disadvantaged students and few licensed computer science teachers.
What the New Ohio Law Requires
The amended law allows any “individual who holds a valid educator license in any of grades 7 through 12 to teach a computer science course if, prior to teaching the course, the individual completes a professional development program approved by the district superintendent or school principal that provides content knowledge specific to the course the individual will teach.”
To ensure that a school is accredited, you can check the U.S. Department of Education database. The state of Ohio also maintains a list of accredited institutions approved to offer educator preparation programs in the state.
The Ohio Department of Education does not pre-approve coursework. The state expects teachers to select coursework related to classroom teaching or their area of licensure.