UCLA Researchers Awarded $2M NSF Grant to Improve Equity in Computer Science Education

By Joanie Harmon, Ampersand

Julie Flapan, Jane Margolis, and Jean Ryoo, education researchers at UCLA’s Center X, were recently awarded a four-year $2 million dollar National Science Foundation grant to create a Networked Improvement Community to scale teacher professional development, build the capacity of education leaders for local implementation, and contribute to the research base on expanding equity-minded computer science (CS) teaching and learning opportunities across the state. The project which is called SCALE-CA (Supporting Computer Science Access, Leadership and Equity in California) will use a three-pronged strategy that includes interlocking interventions at the classroom, district and state levels. The focus of SCALE-CA is to build leadership capacity to ensure that equity is kept at the core of CS education expansion efforts and to ensure those efforts involve interventions that are scalable and sustainable.

Flapan, who is the director of the Computer Science Project at UCLA and the executive director of the Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools (ACCESS), says that SCALE-CA presents an unparalleled opportunity for California schools to meet the challenges of providing quality CS education to propel students of color to academic and career success.

“SCALE-CA challenges practitioners, policymakers and researchers to examine our biased beliefs about who is cut out for computer science and as a result, who has access to it,” she says. “As computer science education builds momentum and California scales CS statewide, we are committed to centering equity to increase access, inclusion, andengagement in high quality computer science for all students. Rather than being the next ‘flavor of the day’ in our schools, SCALE-CA hopes to build the necessary infrastructure to ensure computer science education is equitable, scalable, and sustainable.”