Interested in becoming a middle or high school CS teacher in Washington state?

We’re creating a state-approved pathway for aspiring teachers to do exactly that. And it couldn’t be more needed: fewer than half of middle and high schools in Washington state teach any CS, and when they do, only a fraction of students engage. Less than 1% of students in Washington state learn anything about CS. Additionally, 90% of CS teachers in Washington state are White men or women, even though only 75% of Washington youth are White. Schools desperately need teachers of color in the classroom, across the state.

The new program is part of the University of Washington’s existing top-ranked 1-year Masters in Teaching (called STEP, short for Secondary Teacher Education Program), which starts in Spring each year. We’re creating a 5th quarter add-on endorsement, which means that teacher candidates enroll in the 1-year degree, earn a first endorsement in math, science, social students, language arts, or world languages, then stay for an additional quarter to earn a second endorsement in CS.

This dual-endorsement structure not only makes you a competitive candidate for teaching positions, but positions you well to teach both standalone CS courses, as well as integrate CS into other subject areas that you teach.

Don’t see your question below? Write Professor Amy J. Ko and she’ll answer it!

Do I have to have a CS background to enroll?

No. The only CS content knowledge we expect teachers to have is some exposure to programming. An introductory programming course would suffice, as would any practical experience with programming equivalent to a 1-quarter or 1-semester programming course. We will teach much of the CS content knowledge needed to teach a range of middle and high school courses; having more extensive CS experience will broaden your range. The program will likely involve using and learning a combination of Python and Scratch.

For those with more substantial CS backgrounds (several courses, a bachelor’s degree, or perhaps experience as a professional software developer), this program is an opportunity to learn foundational concepts in teaching in general, as well as CS teaching and one other subject area. Knowing CS isn’t the same as knowing how to teach CS; this program will teach you the foundational skills for being an outstanding, equity and justice-focused CS teacher.

Do I have to be a STEP student to participate?

Two groups can participate:

  • Fully-enrolled STEP graduate students staying for a 5th quarter.
  • In-service teachers with prior teaching experience who want deeper preparation in critical CS pedagogy. Teachers can enroll à la carte in individual courses.

Undergraduates may not participate; the program assumes at least a year of full-time education or experience in secondary teaching. However, we highly encourage you to apply to STEP to get this experience!

What courses does the endorsement include?

The course are taught by faculty in across the College of Education, The Information School, and the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, all with extensive experience teaching CS in middle and/or high school.

The additional 5th quarter includes four CS-specific courses:

  • EDTEP 577 Justice and Equity in Computer Science Teaching. This course covers foundational intersections between computer science content knowledge and issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Addresses these issues in the computer science classroom, as well as society more broadly, developing critical consciousness of computer science and society. This course is taught by Professor Amy Ko, who is an experienced higher education and high school CS teacher, but also a leading researcher in CS education.

  • EDTEP 590 Teaching Computer Science in Secondary Schools. This course develops skills in developing, rehearsing, enacting, and reflecting upon developmentally appropriate computer science lesson and unit plans. Students write learning objectives that consider prior knowledge and specific needs of a diversity of learners, developing skills to deconstruct and analyze lessons and plan the scope and sequence of longer units of study. Draws upon culturally relevant computing, project-based learning, and critical consciousness. This course is taught by Assistant Teaching Professor Brett Wortzman, who is an experienced high school and higher education CS teacher, as well as an extensive CS professional development provider.

  • EDTEP 574 Assessment in Secondary Education - Computer Science. This course Surveys approaches to formative and summative assessment of computer science knowledge from both equity and psychometrics perspectives, and impacts of assessments on identity, interest, self-efficacy, and mindset. Emphasizes deliberate practice on computer science assessment design and critique and the tradeoffs of assessment automation technologies in supporting learning. This course is taught by Ph.D. student Jayne Everson, who is an experienced high school math, physics, and robotics teacher, and who is studying critical CS pedagogy in her research.

  • EDTEP 602 Field Experience Computer Science - Secondary. Practice teaching computer science in a supervised middle or high school placement in partner schools and districts who are working to diversify the teaching field. Candidates critique their own practices and receive feedback on ways to align their practices with equity and justice teaching pedagogy. You’ll be placed with a CS teacher and school in Puget Sound, likely in in one of our partner districts in Seattle Public Schools, Highline Schools, or Shoreline Schools.

How do I get certified to teach?

Before you graduate, you’ll take the NES Computer Science exam, which primarily tests CS content knowledge. Passing this exam certifies you to teach CS in Washington state. You’ll have extensive support in preparing for this exam, including learning CS concepts in EDTEP 577 and study groups led by the teaching team. If you’re already confident in your CS content knowledge, you can take the exam at any time before you start teaching. Alternatively, you can take it near the end of your 5th quarter, studying with your peers with the support of the faculty.

What about tuition and fees?

For the Spring 2022 and 2023 cohort (which began in Spring 2021), Spring quarter tuition, fees, and the NES exam fee will be covered by a grant the team has received from the National Science Foundation. Support will come in the form of stipends, which candidates can use to cover their costs. The team is seeking funding to subsidize future cohorts.

If demand exceeds our resources, we will prioritize stipends for candidates underrepresented amongst secondary CS teachers, particularly Black, Hispanic, Native, and/or Asian candidates, and/or candidates with disabilities.

How do I apply?

To apply to the Secondary Masters in Teaching program, first review the admissions requirements and the online application. All secondary candidates have a range of exams to complete prior to applying. You’ll want to think carefully about which endorsement area in addition to CS you’d like to pursue (math, science, social studies, language arts, or world languages), and be sure to complete the coursework necessary for those specific endorsements prior to applying.

The deadlines for the program are the beginning of October each year, for Spring start the following calendar year. That means you’ll want to prepare materials and ask any questions that you have the summer before you want to apply.

If you’re currently an undergrad, here are a few possible timelines:

  • Apply in Autumn, graduate in Winter, start in Spring. This doesn’t leave much time for a break, but doesn’t require planning any gap time.
  • Graduate in Spring, apply in Autumn, start the next Spring. This offers a 9 month gap, which is time for a break and time to work. You can even apply to substitute teach without certification, giving you a bit of experience in secondary classrooms before you begin.

Reach out to the College for any questions about the Masters in Teaching. If you have questions about the CS endorsement, you can reach Professor Amy J. Ko with any questions.