About LeadCS.org

What is LeadCS.org?

LeadCS.org is a website for K-12 education leaders in schools and districts and their partners looking to begin or improve a computer science education initiative. It houses a collection of research-based tools and recommendations.

Some LeadCS.org tools provide summaries and syntheses of current information, data, and projects. Other tools are “voices of experience” with recommendations coming from leaders who have already navigated the change process. These tools provide key advice from leader reflections on the most critical supports, barriers, and lessons learned in the process of implementing a computer science program. Still others provide guidance and frameworks for leaders ready to take actionable steps toward bringing computer science to their students.

To access the tools that are most useful for your needs, you can navigate LeadCS.org by specific questions you have (Question), by tool name (Title) or by your leadership role (Leader Pathways). Or, you can browse the complete list of tools and select those that interest you.

Who Created LeadCS.org?

LeadCS.org was developed by Outlier Research & Evaluation and others at the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education at the University of Chicago, in collaboration with the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Council of Great City Schools, and Tata Consultancy Services.

Our computer science education research supports the efforts of the computer science education community and the broader education community to develop, implement and expand computer science education opportunities for all learners. Part of this work has focused on clearly describing the status of computer science education in the United States and systematically identifying and measuring supports and barriers to implementing computer science education on a large scale. We are also actively engaged in evaluating computer science professional development models, camps, after school programs, and other large implementation efforts.

This project was made possible with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) (Grant # 1433832, 2014-2015).

The Purpose of LeadCS.org

This is a time of unprecedented opportunity for computer science education. The last few years have seen a large increase in efforts to develop and expand computer science learning opportunities in K-12 education settings at the federal, state, and local levels. Because the field is emerging, with rapidly changing information and resources, it can be challenging for education leaders to navigate the landscape and find the most important and relevant information.

There are many existing websites and resources devoted to K-12 computer science education efforts. LeadCS.org does not re-create or replace these important resources. Rather, LeadCS.org offers leaders original tools to support their computer science education efforts while also directing them to existing key online resources. The goal of LeadCS.org is to streamline and simplify the process of searching for information on how to build, grow and sustain computer science programs in formal K-12 settings.

There is no “one size fits all” solution to computer science education. Each school and district brings its own set of assets, needs, and challenges that will contribute to how computer science education emerges in that setting. Still, both literature and experience suggest some strategies and decisions might be more promising in some contexts than others. LeadCS.org tools have been designed to surface that learning. Therefore, leaders should use these tools flexibly, in different combinations and in sequences, to make better and more informed decisions about computer science in their unique contexts.

Change Process

Initiating a new computer science education initiative in a school or district is a significant undertaking. It involves making thoughtful and coordinated changes among many stakeholders, including district-level leaders and administrators, principals and school administrators, teachers, IT professionals, parents, students, and other community members. Although new instructional programs or classroom practices might play a key role, they are only a part of the changes that take place at multiple levels of your system. Other changes may involve changes in mindsets about what or how students learn, changes in the physical environment of school and district buildings, and changes in organizational communication and policy. To complicate the situation even more, people and groups in every level of the instructional organization vary in their level of “readiness for change.”

Recognizing this complexity, the LeadCS.org tools guide decisions about what changes might be made with regard to computer science education, but also how to implement those changes and monitor how well they are working.

If you are a computer science education leader interested in sharing your experience with other education leaders as a tool in LeadCS.org, please contact us.

Contact Information

Outlier Research & Evaluation, University of Chicago

Outlier Research & Evaluation is a research and evaluation group within the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education described below. Outlier uses diverse strengths and approaches to work with others seeking to solve challenging problems in STEM education. Outlier’s work focuses on STEM Schools, Computer Science, Measuring Implementation of Innovations and Factors that Affect Implementation, and Evaluation. Members of the Outlier team working on LeadCS.org are Director, Jeanne Century and Senior Researchers Sarah Wille and Amy Cassata.

Learn more about Outlier.

Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education, Physical Sciences Division, University of Chicago

The Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education resides in the Physical Sciences Division of the University of Chicago. CEMSE is committed to improving precollege education and aims to support high quality STEM instruction and learning for all students. Through research, the sharing of knowledge and the creation of useful products and programs, CEMSE seeks to make a positive difference for all aspects of STEM education. From CEMSE, the LeadCS.org team includes Mike Lach, Director of STEM Policy.

Learn more about CEMSE.

To contact a specific individual at Outlier or CEMSE, go to the respective website. For general inquiries about LeadCS.org, send an e-mail to leadcs@lists.uchicago.edu.