Get Coding: Building a CS Educational Pipeline for Underserved Students
What does your organization do?
At 9 Dots, we are a community of educators, researchers, and engineers committed to bringing an exceptional computer science to all students, particularly those from underserved communities.
Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.
Carla is a first-generation American from a Honduran family who began taking 9 Dots coding classes in her local elementary school. Initially, she thought that coding was not for her. “At first, I was intimidated, I thought only a genius or some guy at NASA can do things like this,” she said. 9 Dots Coding Coordinators worked alongside her teacher to help Carla work through our curriculum and develop a “debugging mindset,” which accepts that getting stuck is a normal part of the learning process and to teach her problem solving strategies for identifying errors and making her code work. She quickly got over her fear of making mistakes and learned to work collaboratively with her peers to find solutions. Carla believes that her experience learning coding and debugging in elementary school has helped her in math, but notes that it has also helped her to gain confidence in herself as she progresses along the path of her education. Now in 7th grade, Carla believes she has many options she might pursue in the future; she is interested in a career in architecture, or in coding, or maybe even at NASA. But her experience with 9 Dots has also interested her in becoming a CS educator, “I’d like to give other kids the same chance I had.”
Which of the learn metrics will your submission impact?
- Students’ immersion in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math content
- Student education pipeline
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Compton Unified Schools District (CUSD)
How will your project make LA the best place to learn?
a. Program strategy:
Get Coding provides local Title I elementary schools with everything they need to offer fun and rigorous coding classes that prepare young students for future educational and professional opportunities in STEM and a wide range of other fields. Teachers are central to our strategy. 9 Dots Coding Coordinators work side by side with teachers at all levels of prior CS experience to assist in planning, setting up, and delivering each coding class. Coding Coordinators model best practices in CS instruction, conduct quarterly professional development workshops, and provide office hours for additional CS content knowledge or technical support until every teacher is ready to teach CS independently.
b. Population served:
Get Coding is currently being implemented in 21 Title 1 K-6 partner Los Angeles (LAUSD) and Compton Unified (CUSD) schools, reaching 5000 students and 186 teachers. Nearly 25% of LAUSD and 36% of CUSD students are English Language Learners, compared to the state average of 21.4%. The average Free and Reduced Price Meal (FRPM) rate across the 21 schools we serve is 88%, and the average student racial demographics are as follows: 14.5% African AmericanÍ¾ .35% American Indian or Alaska NativeÍ¾ 2.4% Asian/Pacific IslanderÍ¾ 76% Hispanic / LatinoÍ¾ 5% White/Caucasian, and 1.75% Other. 47% of students are boys and 53% are girls.
9 Dots will serve an estimated 6500 students and 200 teachers in at least 25 Title I K-6 schools in the 2019-20 school year. Get Coding is structured as a one-hour weekly class, taught over 30 weeks. In addition to supporting teachers and students as they progress through our original coding curriculum, 9 Dots Coding Coordinators work with teachers and school administrators to host community events and showcases that help build a culture of awareness and CS participation for families in Los Angeles low-income communities.
With some variance by district and by school, the timeline for the Get Coding program is as follows:
July- Summer Conference: a three-day educator engagement and professional development workshop (PDW 1) for current and new teacher onboarding
August- Coding Coordinators join classrooms
September- PDW 2, National Coding week/family events
October/November- Independent Coding Challenge (ICC) 1 (see project success measures)
December - PDW 3, Hour of Code/family events
February/March- PDW 4, ICC 2
June- Classroom coding projects and family showcases
d. Measurable progress towards LA2050 goals:
9 Dots Get Coding program meets LA 2050 LEARN goals by making an early CS education pipeline accessible for up to 6500 K-6 students in Los Angeles low-income communities, preparing them for future educational success and 21st century careers, while creating at least three community event opportunities for parent and family engagement in our schools.
In what stage of innovation is this project?
Expand existing program (expanding and continuing ongoing successful projects)
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
9 Dots defines success for this project as 1) completing K-6 CS education pathways in at least 10 of our partner schools; 2) “graduating” 100 local teachers as independent and effective coding instructors; and 3) achieving a 90% grade level coding proficiency rate for all students served.
9 Dots tracks the numbers of students, teachers, and schools that we serve to assess the scale of our impact while gathering quantitative and qualitative data to assess program outcomes. Student proficiency rates are measured through 9 Dots’ Independent Coding Challenge (ICC). The ICC assessment is administered after the completion of content lessons before students begin to work on classroom projects. It includes up to 12 coding challenges based on the previous lessons, and tagged for both the coding and the problem solving skills required to complete them.
9 Dots surveys teachers after every quarterly PDW, using Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) indicators to analyze results on 1) how likely teachers are to recommend our program to a colleague, and 2) how satisfied teachers are with their Coding Coordinator. Educator progress towards independent teaching or “graduation” is assessed collaboratively with teachers and administrators based on a range of indicators including comfort with using tech in the classroomÍ¾ classroom managementÍ¾ and lesson preparedness.
How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?
- Access to LA2050 community
- Host public events on the topic your organization’s issue area (e.g. access to capital, education reform, clean energy, etc.)
- Communications support, including traditional media, social media, and LA2050 newsletter
- Capacity, including staff
- Strategy assistance and implementation
Transforming School Libraries in Low Income Neighborhoods
We transform dilapidated school libraries in L.A. Since 1999, Access Books has donated well over 1.7 million books to over 300 school and community libraries. We serve schools with a high population of children receiving Title I funds in underserved communities such as Watts, South Central, Compton, parts of the Valley, downtown and East Los Angeles. We donate thousands of books and paint literacy themed murals for each school as well as donate reading furniture and rugs.
WriteGirl, a project of Community Partners
In March 2020, WriteGirl moved quickly towards shifting all in-person creative writing workshops, one-to-one mentoring and college entrance guidance to a digital platform in response to COVID-19. WriteGirl Connected would be a digital suite of interactive programming that will engage hundreds of home-bound Los Angeles youth and keep them on track to graduate from high school and enroll in college. Funding will support the development of a robust suite of digital programming so that teens can create, learn and connect from anywhere.