Code.org wants more high schools to offer computer science courses, and now it’s getting help from the College Board to do so.
Seattle-based Code.org today announced a new partnership with College Board, a non-profit organization that administers standardized tests as part of the college application process.
As part of the alliance, College Board and Code.org will help 35 of the nation’s largest school districts — many of which are located in urban areas — implement new computer science education classes.
Code.org co-founder Hadi Partovi said a partnership with “one of the largest and most respected organizations in education” is a key milestone.
“This is a big step for computer science and for Code.org,” he said.
College Board is endorsing Code.org as a coursework and teacher training provider for its upcoming AP Computer Science Principles course and will help Code.org fund the teacher training work required to establish new computer science classes.
Schools that commit to using the PSAT to identify middle school students who have potential for success in computer science will be eligible to receive curriculum, training, and funding for programming classes.
One key part of the agreement is to help encourage more women and minorities to study computer science. Partovi said the new PSAT exam for eighth and ninth-graders will help identify which students have an aptitude for computer science, no matter their gender or skin color.
Among the high school graduating class of 2014 who took the PSAT, more than 165,000 female students showed aptitude for computer science, but only 2.5 percent enrolled in the AP Computer Science course and exam. Of the 33,000 black and hispanic students that also showed potential for programming, only 4.7 percent gained access to the AP course.
“Low-income urban schools regularly assume ‘our kids can’t do it’ and school administrators often assume the girls can’t do computer science,” he explained. “This will help dispelled these myths.”
Founded in 2013 by Partovi and his brother Hadi, Code.org offers free online learning courses to help expand participation in computer science. The organization’s goal is to get computer science education in every U.S. school. So far, more than 70 of the largest U.S. school districts have partnered with Code.org, which is also helping 10,000 teachers per year with computer science education training.