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Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21)

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The Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21) program aims to build a computationally savvy 21st century workforce that positions the US to demonstrate a leadership role in the global economy. Innovations in computing and more broadly, information technology (IT), drive our economy, underlie many new advances in science and engineering, and contribute to our national security. Projected job growth in IT is very strong. Despite these very positive indicators, student interest in computing has declined dramatically over the last decade. For example, the percentage of college freshmen indicating an intent to major in computing has declined overall by 70% in the last decade; for women, the decline was 80% (HERI, 2000-2009). Recent data show that student interest in computing majors has fallen behind projected job openings by a factor of five and a half (ACT, 2010). The CE21 program seeks to reverse this troubling trend by engaging larger numbers of students, teachers, and educators in computing education and learning at earlier stages in the education pipeline. While interventions in primary education are within scope, the CE21 program focuses special attention on activities targeted at the middle and high school levels (i.e., secondary education) and in early undergraduate education. The goals of the CE21 program are to: Increase the number and diversity of K-14 students and teachers who develop and practice computational competencies in a variety of contexts; and Increase the number and diversity of early postsecondary students who are engaged and have the background in computing necessary to successfully pursue degrees in computing-related and computationally-intensive fields of study. The program seeks to increase computational competencies for all students, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, disability status, or socioeconomic status, and regardless, too, of eventual career choices. By promoting and enhancing computing K-14 education, the CE21 program seeks to increase interest in computing as a field in its own right, and also to better prepare students for successful careers in other computing-intensive fields. All CE21 projects are expected to: Contribute to the creation of a rich research base that informs our understanding of effective teaching and learning in computing; and Draw on partnerships among the computing and teaching and learning communities, institutions of learning, including primary, secondary and post-secondary institutions and organizations, and other stakeholders. In addition, all CE21 projects must make contributions in one or more of the following areas: Design, develop and study the effectiveness of new instructional materials and interventions; Design, develop, and evaluate the impact of pre-service and in-service efforts and strategies that enhance K-14 teaching expertise in computing; and/or Implement and test promising computing education interventions at scale. The CE21 program especially encourages proposals that align with, and promise to contribute to, the success of the NSF-initiated CS 10K Project. CS 10K aims to increase the effectiveness of computing education in high school through the introduction of an entirely new curriculum (based on a proposed, new Advanced Placement course) concomitant with the preparation of 10,000 high school teachers prepared to teach the new curriculum in 10,000 schools by 2015.