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SOE awarded $375,000 VDOE grant

Initiative's framework will equip teachers with culturally responsive strategies for diverse student audiences

A ninth-grade student explains a new algebraic concept to his classmate. PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action [View Image] [View Image]Under the Virginia Department of Education grant, students will be provided professional learning in areas such as workplace decorum, how to engage with dynamic teams, and acceptable use of social media in the workplace. (Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action/some rights reserved)

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has awarded the VCU School of Education a three-year $374,766 grant titled Aces Over ACSE: A Winning Combination for Advancing Computer Science Education in Virginia (AOAVA).

Working with a regional collaborative that includes the Code RVA Regional High School and CodeVA, a statewide, state-funded no-cost computer science teacher professional development organization, this initiative will help teachers transform a course titled Exploring Computer Science (ECS) into thematic online modules which will be coupled with local student challenges in computer science. ECS is a research-based course and training framework funded by the National Science Foundation that is widely taught in Virginia schools.

SOE will also work closely with students alongside corporate partners from Capital OneCarmax and Bank of America to ensure that the local student challenges in computer science are relevant, authentic and compelling. In addition, volunteer near-peer corporate coaches will participate in Student Innovation Saturdays, working with students to provide insights into the workplace environment and the career opportunities available related to computer science in their business sectors.

Al S. Byers, Ph.D., visiting scholar for STEM education and principal investigator on the project, said that the ECS training framework will equip teachers with culturally responsive strategies when working with diverse student audiences.Headshot of Dr. Al Byers, Visiting Scholar for STEM Education at the VCU School of Education. [View Image] [View Image]Al S. Byers, Ph.D.

“Students will be provided professional learning in areas such as workplace decorum, how to engage with dynamic teams, and acceptable use of social media in the workplace,” said Byers.

“We are pleased and honored to be a part of this targeted, collaborative effort to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the STEM area of computer science in Virginia."

The nine participating school districts are:

Co-principal investigators on the project include Tracy Walker, Ph.D., project director at CodeRVA Regional High School and SOE alumna (Ph.D. '08); Rebecca Dovi. director of education at CodeVA; and Dwayne Ray Cormier, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Foundations of Education and visiting iCubed scholar; and Bryan Wallace, community education manager at CodeVA. Senior project advisors include Chris Dovi, executive director of CodeVA, and Michael Bolling, executive director of CodeRVA Regional High School.

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