GSE news brief artwork.
Mountain image created by in-service teachers’ coursework projects.

GSE’s computer science offers hands on learning projects for in-service teachers. Above is a sample of work from a current CS student. 

Published March 5, 2024


GSE establishes computer science education program

GSE is now offering one of the first residency-based computer science teacher preparation programs in New York State through the Department of Learning and Instruction.

Chris Proctor.

Chris Proctor, GSE assistant professor of learning and instruction.

GSE recognized that school districts across the state were seeking support implementing K-12 computer science coursework and in finding certified teachers, in response to public desire to see these skills formally taught, as well as a state mandate that schools offer computer science. New York State has also begun to mandate that teachers of computer science courses be certified in New York’s K-12 Computer Science.

That’s where GSE’s computer science program comes in by offering various tracks toward certification. In-service teachers can earn an Advanced Certificate which qualifies them for additional certification in K-12 Computer Science. Undergraduate computer science majors or career-changers who already have a subject-matter background can learn how to be effective and equitable teachers while earning Initial/Professional certification.

For those new to the teaching profession, the computer science (CS) education program will offer GSE’s unique teacher residency. “The book, ‘A Case for Change in Teacher Preparation,’ that many members of our department published about the teacher residency model, makes a persuasive case about the importance of teacher residency,” said Chris Proctor, GSE assistant professor of learning and instruction. “For our pre-service teachers who go into computer science, they will have more leadership and responsibility for carrying a design process in their placements than others who are placed within more established subjects. This provides them a unique experience moving forward to grow this subject in more districts.”

Proctor has led the way in the CS program’s development. He—along with clinical associate professor and associate dean Elisabeth Etopio, associate professor and department chair Erin Kearney, and administrator of UB’s Gifted Math Program Anne Izydorczak, are bringing to life a comprehensive plan that can accommodate a diverse group of students, whether they are completely new to teaching, are currently working in the field, but require a new certification in order to continue teaching their computer science classes, or want to start a new program in their school.    

"Most schools in Western New York that want to get computer science started have experienced educators but don’t necessarily have CS content expertise," said Proctor. "Our pre-service teachers have a background in the subject; we help them grow as educators and help them develop a vision that they are bringing to these schools and districts."

As the push for more computer science education has increased, the New York State Education Department mandated Computer Science and Digital Fluency learning standards to be implemented statewide by 2024. Starting Sept. 1, 2024, teachers must hold a computer science certificate to teach computer science courses.

"We knew that schools wanted to start computer science programs or enrich something they already had. To do that, they need qualified teachers. There was a window of opportunity for current teachers to become certified, but that window was closing," explained Proctor.

To avoid a shortage of CS teachers, GSE offered a two-course sequence in summer and fall 2023 called Computer Science Now. This was a one-time opportunity for teachers to start learning CS and to receive personalized support in teaching CS, while remaining eligible to teach CS through New York’s Statement of Continuing Eligibility and getting started on the Advanced Certificate which will provide them with permanent certification in K-12 CS.

“We didn’t want schools to get stuck because they are being pressured from all sides to have these programs, but the certifications weren’t available yet. Our goal was to have leaders and teachers join this pilot program,” said Proctor. “It was mutually beneficial for us in that we had a small, manageable cohort that we could experiment with, but it also allowed for current teachers to become certified in instructing computer science quickly.”

As GSE’s computer science education program formally rolls out, Proctor knows there will be challenges: “A huge task that our team has been planning revolves around how all of these courses layer on top of each other so that we can offer classes in a way that is economical. This is so people in all the various tracks can take courses at the same time. That first Computer Science Now cohort has really paved the way for their future peers, and I want to highlight their courage in working with us as this program comes to fruition.”

Find out more about application deadlines and program information.

Tuesday News Briefs feature the stories of the Graduate School of Education faculty, students and alumni who are engaged in their communities and making an impact through their hard work, dedication and research initiatives. If you have a story to share, please email us with the details for consideration as a future news feature.