The Pennsylvania Department of Education awarded Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) with the PA Smart Advancing Grant to expand access to Computer Science (CS) and STEM education. The total award amount is $479,202.

With grant dollars, Pittsburgh Public Schools will partner with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit and Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science on a 16-school pilot program to develop a PreK-12 vertical approach to CS education.

“The PA Smart Advancing Grant will make computer science and STEM learning opportunities accessible to all Pittsburgh Public Schools students and diversify the repertoire of our teachers to include age-appropriate computer science content, skills, and instruction,” said Dr. Anthony Hamlet, Superintendent. “We would like to thank the PA Department of Education and Acting Secretary Noe Ortega for the support.”

Currently, only five District schools offer vertically aligned CS instruction that prepares students for high school level course work. Most PPS students enter high school having little or no CS exposure in school, and teachers need the professional learning experience and instructional resources to remedy this.

Over the grant period, PPS will refine and edit curricular pacing, resource management, and course structure with pilot schools prior to opening up courses to all schools. An intensive professional learning pathway will be established for teachers, including a summer conference, ongoing support via on-site visits, virtual support, and quarterly cohort collaboration.

To address the District’s gap in material resources, PPS will launch a STEAM Instructional Resource Circulation System to provide educators with access to necessary supplemental materials and hardware, including Bee-Bot, “Puzzlets”, Hummingbird Bits, and STEAM prototyping kits.

After the grant, the course structures will be in place to expand districtwide, providing equity and access to all students in the 2022-2023 school year. All students will receive CS instruction in PreK-8 with more students annually able to access more rigorous options on the high school level.

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