Mar 08 2016

Rhode Island Embraces Bold New Comp Sci Initiative

Calling computer science a “new basic skill,” Rhode Island’s governor wants to make the state a new innovation hub.

A month after President Barack Obama unveiled a $4 billion national Computer Science for All initiative, Rhode Island has launched its own plan for bringing coding to more K–12 classrooms.

Despite Rhode Island's investment in becoming the first "fully blended-learning state," gaps still exist in its technology education. Only 1 percent of state high school students are enrolled in computer science courses, according to the office of Governor Gina Raimondo.

That's something the governor hopes to change with the state’s Computer Science for Rhode Island initiative, which launched Monday.

"Part of turning our economy around and creating jobs is making sure every student, at every level, has access to the new basic skill: computer science," Governor Raimondo says on the initiative's site. "Thanks to the partners we have assembled for this initiative, I know we can achieve this goal."

Joining state education leaders is Rhode Island's first chief innovation officer, Richard Culatta, who, in December, left a senior post with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology. Culatta told Rhode Island Public Radio that he would be working to help foster more collaboration between the state government and the private sector.

Culatta told EdTech that the goal of CS4RI is to have computer science curriculum in every school in the state by 2017, allowing any student to pursue a career in the field.

"I’m excited about extending the opportunities to all students in Rhode Island by creating a talented, diverse pipeline of students with CS expertise. Not only does it provide future career opportunities for students, but is also a signal of how committed we are to making Rhode Island a center for innovation," he says.

Collaboration is at the heart of the CS4RI plan. By bringing together five partners — the University of Rhode Island,, Technology Education and Literacy in Schools, Project Lead the Way, and Bootstrap — the initiative hopes to offer a low-cost or free computer science curriculum to K–12 schools.

A full list of the types of courses, along with their recommended grade levels, are available on the CS4RI website


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