Lower Hudson Regional Information Center - Lower Hudson CS and STEAM Academy (LHCSA): Changing the Core Discipline Landscape
What is LHCSA?
The Lower Hudson Computer Science and STE(A)M Academy (LHCSA) is a multi-year, district-level academic development program for both administrators and teacher-leaders to collaboratively design, implement, and evaluate a full-scale, comprehensive K-8 program in Computer Science/Coding and/or STE(A)M that is unique to each district. The Academy launched with six districts in 2017 and was designed and implemented by the LHRIC Model Schools team.
The Academy was designed as a three year continuum, with the following areas of focus for each year:
Year 1: Program Design and Development
- Create vision and mission focused exclusively on CS/STE(A)M education
- Develop K-8 CS/Coding/STE(A)M Scope and Sequence
- Select instructional materials and prepare teacher-leaders for implementation
Year 2: Implementation and Professional Development
- Implement Year 1 of CS/STE(A)M programs across multiple grade levels
- Prepare an in-house professional development strategy to build capacity for delivering CS/STE(A)M programs to all K-8 students in your district
Year 3: Program Evaluation and Scaling Strategy
- Implement Year 2 of CS/STE(A)M programs across all grade levels
- Evaluate your program implementation and build capacity for next phase
It was important in the early design phases to create shared values and common understandings. With feedback from the participating districts, the Academy community adopted the following core beliefs:
- Computer Science is a core discipline that should be taught to all K-12 students.
- Engineering, a content area closely associated with science, is also a core discipline that should be taught to all K-12 students.
- Both CS and Engineering, being core disciplines, assume the characteristics of other core disciplines in K-12 education (pedagogy, habits of mind, content)
- STEM/STEAM education is a collection of associated disciplines where technology, engineering, and/or art are the focal point(s) of instruction upon which connections to mathematics and science are explicitly made
- Knowledge of the distinctions between these two new core disciplines is essential to preparing our students for the modern world.
The Academy was conceived and designed primarily to address systemic inequities in providing essential academic programs in the core disciplines of computer science and engineering. The “three pillars” upon which the Academy was designed include CS and Engineering K-12 pedagogy, professional development, and leadership development, drawing from the unique talents and expertise of the Academy development team.
As members of the Academy, Districts:
- Design, develop, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive scope and sequence that reflects the needs and goals of their district
- Educate teacher-leaders on core pedagogical content knowledge in K-8 Computer Science Education and Engineering Education
- Evaluate current and future Computer Science/ Coding and/or STE(A)M education programs.
In the first year of participation, six (6) districts from Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties committed a total of 42 members to participate in both instructional and administrative cohorts. The administrative cohort consisted of Assistant Superintendents (Curriculum, Instruction, PPS, Staff Development, Secondary Education), Principals (3 Middle, 4 Elementary), Directors (Technology, Student and Evaluation Data) and Supervisors (Math & Science, Performing Arts, Special Education). The instructional cohort was comprised of Specialists, Department Head/Chair, Librarian, Facilitators, and Teachers in the areas of Art, English/Language Arts, Literacy, Mathematics, Science, STEM, and Special Education.
In Spring 2018, the LHRIC awarded formal recognition to the original participating Districts for their level of commitment, their willingness to take risks,their openness to challenging pre-existing assumptions, their systemic and high impact work, and for bringing their current expertise to form a community of practice.
Five of six original Districts continue their participation in the Academy in 2018-19, where the focus shifts from creating a formal scope and sequence, to building capacity for computer science and engineering pedagogy. The tools, knowledge and assets created by the Academy members have positively influenced the region, as we have created a mechanism for embedding key resources in the Model Schools Core service for the benefit of all 52 participating member districts.