DES MOINES - Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education today announced $506,084 in annual awards that will prepare K-12 teachers in 136 school districts and nonpublic schools to teach computer science. 

“Computer science is a basic skillset necessary for student success and an added advantage for recruitment in high-demand careers in the rapidly-changing, technology-driven workplace,” said Gov. Reynolds. “These awards equip more educators with the tools and resources needed to prepare K-12 students in computer science, giving them hands-on experience and building their knowledgebase to help attain high-quality computer science jobs once they graduate.” 

“Through computer science, students build critical thinking, problem-solving and reasoning skills that are transferable across academic disciplines and fields,” said Ann Lebo, director of the Iowa Department of Education. “These are vital skills that students need to innovate and succeed in our interconnected, digital world. The awards announced today underscore the commitment we have to computer science education and will help more teachers build their skills in this high-demand field.” 

The Computer Science Professional Development Incentive Fund awards are part of a broad commitment to expand computer science instruction in K-12 schools across Iowa. In 2017, Senate File 274 established the fund to pay for teacher professional development, including training to teach specific computer science courses and earning in-depth university endorsements to teach computer science. In 2020, Gov. Reynolds proposed and the Legislature passed House File 2629 requiring K-12 schools to offer computer science education to all students, starting with high schools in 2022-23. 

Both pieces of legislation align with the Future Ready Iowa initiative, with the goal of preparing more Iowans for rewarding, high-demand careers and helping employers hire the skilled workers they need. 

The 2021-22 Incentive Fund drew 40 applications. Of those, 21 awards totaling $506,084 will go to school districts, nonpublic schools and Area Education Agencies that created collaborative proposals to serve multiple schools. Training that prepares educators to teach computer science in the next six to 12 months is a priority. Recipients will report their progress after the 2021-22 school year. 

A list of the 136 rural, suburban and urban school districts, nonpublic schools and Area Education Agencies receiving awards is available on the Iowa Department of Education's website.