College Futures Foundation to Support Data Science Instruction in LA Schools

By John McDonald | UCLA Ed & IS Ampersand

A new grant and partnership between Center X and LAUSD will expand teachers’ skills and opportunities for students.

Since the days of the launch of the Sputnik satellite in the 1950’s, high school mathematics instruction has been driven by the completion of Algebra II. The thinking was that algebraic skills were needed to build the missiles and rockets needed to win the space race. Algebra II grew to become a key requirement for entry into the UC and CSU systems, and even today, the subject remains a gatekeeper for entrance to many colleges and universities. But in a rapidly shifting world where the collection and analysis of “big data” is reshaping our lives and future, that may be changing.  Data Science is in high demand and students need the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills to work with large and complex data sets.

In response, a growing number of schools across California are offering courses in data science. Introduction to Data Science was introduced in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in the 2014-2015 school year and in 2018, UCLA joined with the LAUSD to provide additional support for the course.  Introductory Data Science (IDS), which fulfills the UC/CSU A-G subject matter requirement in mathematics, is currently available in 16 high schools in the school district.