Pittsburgh Technical Council

White House Recognizes the AIU for Its Commitment to Computer Science Education

White House Recognizes the AIU for Its Commitment to Computer Science Education

Article Published: February 2, 2016

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU) announced today that it has been recognized by the White House for its commitment to computer science education.

During his weekly address to the nation on Saturday, President Obama unveiled his Computer Science for All Initiative, a plan that would give all students across the country the opportunity to learn computer science in school. The AIU is the only intermediate unit in the Commonwealth and one of a small handful of organizations from Pennsylvania that
were recognized for this commitment to prepare students for success in college and the workforce.

In recent years, the AIU’s Teaching and Learning Division has spearheaded a variety of collaborative efforts with local, state and national businesses, foundations and school districts in order to equip teachers and students with coding and computer science skills.

  • As part of its commitment to this effort, the AIU has partnered with Code.org, the national association that launched the Hour of Code and created a free curriculum for the brand new AP computer science principles test, which students will take next year. The AIU’s Megan Cicconi and Brian Stamford are certified National Affiliates for Code.org, and are on track to triple the number of computer science-ready elementary educators in local school districts by 2017. Currently, the AIU provides training for an elementary curriculum. In addition, the AIU will offer more than 100 free professional development sessions this year, primarily focused on infusing computer science principles into other content areas.

  • In 2015, the AIU, in partnership with the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and the Citrone Fund, created the STEAM Lending Library for PreK-12 educators in Allegheny County. This library features class sets of instructional materials, such as Hummingbird Robots, Puzzlets and littleBits, which are specifically designed to introduce students in all grades to computer science and coding concepts. Since August, teachers from 40 school districts have participated in training and have learned how to incorporate the materials in their classroom instruction.

  • The AIU’s commitment to computer science is reflective of efforts to remake learning in the region through the dissemination of STEAM grants. STEAM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics. Thanks to the partnership and generosity of Chevron along with the Benedum and Grable foundations, since 2009 the AIU has awarded nearly $3 million in STEAM grants to school districts across nine counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. Because of the grants, hundreds of educators and thousands of students throughout the region have gained valuable skills that will lead to success in post-secondary education and the workforce of tomorrow.

Dr. Linda B. Hippert, executive director of the AIU, said that the organization is honored to be recognized by the White House and that the commitment to computer science education will help schools across the region become models for others in the nation.

“So much of our region’s future, and our Nation’s future, is a result of what we do in our schools today. We are thrilled and proud to have been recognized for our commitment to computer science education. It is part of the AIU’s mission to maximize educational opportunities for all learners. This honor strengthens our belief that by continuing to build capacity and excitement for computer science education, we will be able to engage more students and build a strong and educated workforce in our region,” she said.

In addition to the AIU, four school districts in Allegheny County have also been recognized. They are the Avonworth, Elizabeth Forward, Fox Chapel Area and South Fayette Township school districts.

In his weekly address from the White House, President Obama discussed the Computer Science for All Initiative and how it will ensure that students can compete in a high-tech, global economy. He stated that he will seek funding from Congress so that elementary, middle and high schools can provide more opportunities in general.

The President’s Computer Science for All Initiative calls for $4 billion in funding for states, and $100 million specifically for school districts so that they can train teachers, expand access to high-quality instructional materials and build effective regional partnerships. In addition, over the next five years, more than $135 million in investments are expected to be made by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to support and train teachers, who are the most critical ingredient to offering computer science education in schools. The AIU’s Teaching and Learning Division is a state-wide leader in teacher professional development. The division provides leading-edge, research-based practices to engage all learners and
to generate effective solutions to educational challenges.

The President’s address is available at www.whitehouse.gov.

Further media queries can be directed to Sarah McCluan at 412.394.3472 or sarah.mccluan@aiu3.net.

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU) is a branch of the Pennsylvania Department of Education and provides specialized education services to 42 suburban public school districts, five vocational and technical schools, and operates 10 family centers and three schools for exceptional children.

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