Get Coding: Preparing LA's Students to Thrive in the 21st Ce
Research estimates that only 7.3% of elementary students have access to a foundational Computer Science (CS) course; opportunities are even rarer for students in low-income communities. 9 Dots offers a powerful solution. Currently bringing in-class CS curriculum to about 9,000 K-6 students and 350 teachers at Title I elementary schools throughout LA, 9 Dots teaches kids the CS skills needed to thrive in our technological world.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
K-12 STEAM Education
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
San Fernando Valley
County of Los Angeles
City of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CS occupations are growing faster than average across the labor market. Yet women and people of color remain widely underrepresented across CS fields. A key driver of these disparities is a lack of access to early, consistent, high-quality CS education in public schools. Most CS opportunities are reserved for high school students, occur in opt-in after-school spaces, or require access to expensive private tutoring. Opportunities for students as young as Kindergarten to learn CS during the standard school day and in a way that requires nothing from them or their parents/guardians are rare. A recent poll by Google & Gallup showed that underrepresented students who have the opportunity to learn CS early are more likely to enroll in CS courses offered in upper grades. By building full K-6 CS learning pathways at Title-I elementary schools, 9 Dots provides CS learning opportunities for underserved youth that otherwise would not have access.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
9 Dots' Get Coding program eliminates social and structural barriers to CS education by 1) partnering with Title I elementary schools in low-income communities to reach underserved elementary school students earlier; 2) building cohesive and rigorous K-6 CS education pathways with measurable outcomes in proficiency, and 3) providing comprehensive professional development services and in-class supports for teachers to become confident and competent CS instructors. Get Coding is structured as a one-hour in-class lesson taught once a week per classroom for the entire school year. Aligned with Next Generation Science, Common Core, and the new California state CS standards, each curriculum level consists of three modules of ten lessons each, with the final module consisting of an interactive project such as creating interactive stories and drawing emojis with code. 9 Dots recognizes that teachers remain the single most important factor in student learning (Rand, 2019). To ensure that educators are confident, effective, and inclusive, 9 Dots provides intensive onboarding professional development workshops and 1:1 coaching throughout the year, consistently creating a new cohort of Los Angeles teachers capable of teaching CS. But unlike other supplemental or "train-the-trainer" support models, we offer teachers weekly in-class support from 9 Dots Coding Coordinators, who act as co-teachers, mentors, and CS content experts as teachers prepare to become independent CS instructors.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
California's voluntary K-12 CS implementation plan emphasizes the importance of equitable CS access, but while some funding has been directed to the initiative, there's been little impact on our youngest students. Additionally, efforts to remedy pandemic learning loss have led to the deprioritization of subjects beyond math and ELA. This means that many low-income schools don't have what they need to offer CS. This is a particularly hard problem at the elementary school level where CS learning opportunities are rare and the foundational skills are developed - or where many underrepresented students begin to opt out. 9 Dots is bridging the gap between what schools can offer their students and what students need to thrive in the 21st century. 9 Dots plans to bring Get Coding to every Title-I elementary school in LA. When we do, hundreds of thousands of LA's youngest students will have access to the CS education they need to be prepared for and thrive in our ever-changing world.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
9 Dots tracks our reach with students, teachers, and schools while gathering quantitative and qualitative data to assess program outcomes. To measure Get Coding's impact, 9 Dots tracks student participation, learning outcomes (challenge completion and coding proficiency), and motivational data, and we regularly survey students, teachers, and administrators. We use Net Promoter Score and Customer Satisfaction indicators to analyze teacher and administrator satisfaction with our program throughout the year. Student proficiency rates and motivational data are tracked via 9 Dots' Online Teaching Platform. Coding challenges in each lesson are tagged for difficulty and the coding and problem-solving skills required to complete them to calculate proficiency. Student motivational and inclusion data is captured through intermittent surveys that are embedded in our curriculum and include yes/no statements such as "I am a coder," "I like coding," and "I feel like I belong in a coding class".
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 9,850
Indirect Impact: 11,830