OSU-Cascades computer scientist receives $628,000 award to increase Oregon K-12 student participation in computer science

An award received by Jill Hubbard, a computer scientist and professor of practice, will help expand an inclusive computer science education for Oregon K-12 students.
Jan. 22, 2024

An Oregon State University - Cascades professor has been assigned a $628,000 award from the Oregon Department of Education to expand universally engaging, culturally appropriate and inclusive computer science education for K-12 students. 

The award is part of a statewide plan which aims to ensure computer science education is available to public school students on an equitable basis and to broaden participation for all students by 2027-28. It has been funded in part through a $9.8 million federal grant awarded to the Oregon Department of Education. In addition to OSU-Cascades, the plan was also developed in partnership with the University of Oregon and Portland State University.

Roughly 41% of high schools in Oregon offer students a foundational computer science course according to the Oregon Department of Education, but just 4% of the state’s high schoolers are taking one of those classes, and only 2% of those students are female. 

“An understanding of computing is necessary, foundational knowledge in a world where technology is part of our everyday lives, no matter our career choices,” said the award administrator Jill Hubbard, an associate professor of practice in computer science who also coordinates the degree program at OSU-Cascades. 

“This award will enhance Oregon K-12 teachers’ ability to familiarize every student, including underserved students, in their classrooms with computing. As a byproduct, society will benefit from more diversity in the technology workforce and in approaches to problem-solving using computing.”

The award will build support structures that create systematic changes focused on equity and inclusion in computer science education. 

According to Hubbard, many computer science teachers are tasked with creating curriculum with little professional development support. Often, courses are tied to specific educators, making it difficult to sustain courses from year to year, especially in rural areas.

The award will fund professional development in Exploring Computer Science, a national, equity-driven and research-based introductory high school curriculum shown to increase participation by underserved students. Hubbard said the award will also provide stipends for teachers to attend summer workshops and professional development throughout their first year of teaching the curriculum. 

Additionally, the award will establish regional specialists to support local professional development communities of computer science teachers. It will also fund the development of resources and workshops to support K-12 school counselors and administrators, who help teachers ensure all students have access to computer science education, said Hubbard. 

“We’re working to develop scalable, sustainable, and systemic solutions that intentionally increase participation in computer science by underserved students,” Hubbard said.    

Correction: An earlier version of this release showed an incorrect amount for the award in the headline.

About OSU-Cascades:  Oregon State University’s campus in Bend brings higher education to Central Oregon, the fastest growing region in the state. Surrounded by mountains, forest and high desert, OSU-Cascades is a highly innovative campus of a top-tier land grant research university, offering small classes that accelerate faculty-student mentoring and experiential learning. Degree programs meet industry and economic needs in areas such as innovation and entrepreneurship, natural ecosystems, health and wellness, and arts and sciences, and prepare students for tomorrow’s challenges. OSU-Cascades is expanding to serve 3,000 to 5,000 students, building a 128-acre campus with net-zero goals.