MassCAN Initiatives

MassCAN focused strategically on three initiatives-programs, policy and national leadership as follows:

In its first three years, MassCAN’s program initiatives initially focused on teacher professional development. Over the next two years, the focus shifted to a broad-based district engagement strategy.

As we analyzed our data from the first three years, there were two key learnings:

  • We and our partners had provided computer science (CS) PD to more than 800 teachers from 150 of the state’s 350 school districts—and there are 75,000 teachers in the state. With fewer than half the districts represented and an average of five teachers trained per participating district, far too many students would have no access to CS, and those who did would have only an episodic engagement with it. While this strategy of primarily encouraging individual teachers to self-select CS PD might lead to a small increase in students prepared to pursue CS after high school, it would not benefit all students, nor would it effectively address inequitable access to CS education.
  • With only 800 of the state’s 75,000 teachers trained in CS, we saw no credible path forward that relied primarily on teacher PD as the strategy to bring standards-based CS education to all students.

The second program initiative, titled Programing the Acceleration of Computing and Equity (PACE), focused on a two-year effort to develop a partnership with the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. We had several goals for this partnership:

  • Educate superintendents about why CS was an essential 21st century skill for virtually all careers
  • Build their interest in becoming champions of a district-based approach to implementing the state’s standards-based curriculum frameworks
  • Design a support system for an initial group of school districts who would embark on a four- to six-year implementation strategy

A design outline for PACE has been created, but implementation of this initiative awaits resolution of MassCAN’s funding issues.

The third program initiative focused on developing a Massachusetts K–12 Computer Science Curriculum Guide to support the many school superintendents, teachers, and parents interested in CS education. The guide aimed to demystify CS resources by offering a basic process for understanding key elements of various elementary, middle, and high school CS curricula and tools and creating a common template for comparing their key elements.

More information on the three program initiatives is available by clicking on the links to the left.

MassCAN’s policy initiatives focus largely on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)’s and MassCAN’s collaborative work to facilitate the development of the following:

  • The 2016 Massachusetts Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS) Curriculum Framework.
  • Recommendations for the criteria teachers need to meet to qualify for the state’s new DLCS 5–12 Teaching License. The primary avenue for teachers to qualify for this license is to demonstrate expertise in subject-matter content knowledge. As of fall 2018, Mass. DESE is working with Pearson, the state’s test provider, to develop a new Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL) for this license.
  • On June 18, 2018, the Massachusetts Board of Education amended MassCore, the state-recommended program of study intended to align high school coursework with college and workforce expectations. The amended version now allows a recognized CS course to qualify as either one of four math courses or one of three lab-based science courses required by MassCore.

More information on the three policy initiatives is available by clicking on the links on this page.

MassCAN’s National Leadership role consisted of:

  • attending and often speaking at a wide range of national and regional meetings organized by the National Science Foundation, White House office of Science and Technology Policy, Education Commission of the States,, ACM’s Special Interest Group for Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) , Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP), Infosys Foundation, General Electric Foundation, CSNYC, etc. These meetings presented an opportunity to both learn from a wide range of leaders from other parts of the country about their K-12 CS Education journey and to share with these leaders MassCAN’s challenges, lessons learned and achievements here in Massachusetts, and
  • planning and hosting the “Building State Capacity for Leadership in K-12 Computer Science Education National Workshop”. Information about the workshop held April 3-4, 2017 is available by clicking on the National Leadership menu link on this page.