Teacher Shortage Solutions for Computer Science and CTE


The lack of computer science technology educators in middle schools continues to be a genuine crisis, especially considering the critical role of STEM education in preparing students for future careers. Traditional hiring practices often result in non-specialist educators teaching computer science, leading to challenges in delivering effective instruction.

Graham Celine, VP of Business Development & Marketing for Intelitek, which offers the online platform CoderZ, emphasized this topic last month at FETC and in this conversation with eSchool. CoderZ aims to address this gap by providing comprehensive tools and resources for both students and educators, enabling structured and engaging computer science education. 

With increasing recognition of computer science as a fundamental skill, particularly evidenced by state standards mandating its inclusion in curricula, CoderZ offers a solution aligned with educational goals and industry demands. Graham says the program’s flexible implementation options cater to various educational settings, from individual subscriptions to district-wide adoption. Moreover, he points to the product’s assessment strategies focused on student outcomes, employing a combination of automated evaluations and teacher-led assessments to ensure comprehensive learning assessment. Have a listen:

Key Takeaways:

  • Urgent Need for Computer Science Educators: There exists a significant shortage of computer science technology educators, particularly in middle schools, where STEM education is crucial. The traditional approach of assigning non-specialist educators to teach computer science often leads to ineffective instruction due to a lack of expertise and confidence in the subject matter.
  • Comprehensive Solutions for both faculty and students: CoderZ addresses the shortage by offering a comprehensive educational platform equipped with tools, resources, and support for both students and educators. The program is designed to facilitate structured and engaging computer science instruction, aligning with educational standards and industry requirements.
  • Flexible Implementation and Assessment: CoderZ offers flexible implementation options, catering to individual users, school clubs, or district-wide adoption. Assessment strategies focus on student outcomes, utilizing automated evaluations and teacher-led assessments to provide a comprehensive view of learning progress. This approach ensures effective learning outcomes and supports diverse educational settings and needs.

Below is a machine-generated transcript of the interview: 

00:00:20 Speaker 1 

Because nobody goes to learn how to be a computer science teacher and then goes to to, to, to elementary schools. If you’re a computer science educator, you go teach in high school or university. 

00:00:33 Speaker 1 

So what lands up happening is we take. 

00:00:35 Speaker 1 

The math teacher. 

00:00:36 Speaker 1 

Or the science teacher or the librarian. We say. Hey, teach computer science. 

00:00:41 Speaker 2 

Right. 

00:00:41 Speaker 1 

And that doesn’t always work because they’re afraid of technology. They’re afraid of teaching something that they don’t know. And So what we’ve done at Codez is we’ve created an environment which not only is engaging for the students, and it’s not only accessible to the students because being online, they can take it anywhere they want from home, in the class, in the library. 

00:01:02 Speaker 1 

On their phone, on their computer, on their iPad. 

00:01:06 Speaker 1 

But it’s got all the tools and capabilities that enable the uh, the educators, the instructors to uh, implement those type of programs. So we’ve got professional development, we’ve got teacher guides, we’ve got pacing guides, we’ve got slides, we’ve got background material, all that the teachers need in order to prepare. 

00:01:27 Speaker 1 

Properly and to be able to deliver there and to build environments like peer teaching environments where the the strongest students will help the weakest students and to keep the the, the the teacher doesn’t have to be involved. 

00:01:39 Speaker 1 

But then why is computer science? It’s then becoming important because it’s becoming a mandate. It’s in some states. It’s this, it’s a it’s recognized as a as a language. In some states, it’s becoming a standard, notably Texas and and and and New Jersey. Sorry, New York have got. 

00:01:59 Speaker 1 

State standards and they’re requiring schools to teach computer science and digital literacy as part of their program in the 242025 school year. So from an administrative perspective, this is important. 

00:02:15 Speaker 1 

And so having a program that is not just some software that you can download off the Internet and let your students play around with and say, OK, we taught them a little bit about coding, having a a program that is structured that allows you to teach computer science in a very structured. 

00:02:36 Speaker 1 

Logical way that aligns with the goals of these CSA NGSS taxes. New York and other standards is really important. That’s where code Z fits. 

00:02:48 Speaker 1 

In so we’ve created an education tool that really fits what the market needs. 

00:02:49 Speaker 2 

OK. 

00:02:55 Speaker 2 

Now let me ask this the the implementation. This is is sort of a a district wide implementation or is this something that say can start from the a bottoms up sort of adoption in schools? I mean how does that happen both? 

00:03:07 Speaker 1 

It it it, it can be both. Uh, you know, in the end we we we have users that are individuals, parents who just want their kids to learn more and so they can sign up on our website. 

00:03:19 Speaker 1 

And and get a subscription we have a. 

00:03:21 Speaker 1 

Lot of clubs. 

00:03:22 Speaker 1 

So a lot of those computer science and robotics clubs are now taking it to the next level. We have many thousands of schools around the the the country and around the world, and we have districts from our perspective, obviously the best way to implement this is from the top down. 

00:03:40 Speaker 1 

Because the teachers get the most support. 

00:03:43 Speaker 1 

That way they get the the. 

00:03:44 Speaker 1 

The the right tools, the most support and the results. 

00:03:48 Speaker 1 

Visible in the end, that’s what the administrators want to see. So we put this new program in how many students registered for the program, how many students completed the program? How many hours were taken of the program, what were the outcomes of the program? And that’s a top down approach. But from our perspective. 

00:04:08 Speaker 1 

We deal with it in all different directions. 

00:04:11 Speaker 2 

I’ll talk about the the assessment aspects of it when you, when you talk about collecting that sort of data, are you talking about collecting it on the uses of the of the, the faculty themselves or do you mean from as a professional development tool, but also as a student? So kind of give us the the assessment? 

00:04:28 Speaker 1 

Is on a student level. 

00:04:29 Speaker 2 

OK. 

00:04:30 Speaker 1 

Obviously the the the. 

00:04:31 Speaker 1 

The we have all. 

00:04:32 Speaker 1 

The professional development and all the tools for the student, for the teachers. But we’re not testing the teachers. 

00:04:37 

What we’re. 

00:04:38 Speaker 1 

We’re analyzing is. 

00:04:39 Speaker 1 

The students, and there’s two ways to do that. There’s. 

00:04:43 Speaker 1 

There’s uh, automatic or passive evaluations. So we look at how many hours did they complete missions. Now if if there’s a mission and it’s all gamified, so they’re making this robot move around the the, the, the, the screen. But it says you got to do this five times using a loop. 

00:05:02 Speaker 1 

Well, we can evaluate that automatically. Did the student use a loop in their program? 

00:05:07 Speaker 1 

If yes, we know that they’ve learned how. 

00:05:10 Speaker 1 

To use loops. 

00:05:11 Speaker 1 

There are other factors that are more subjective and so there we give this the teacher the the task and we say, OK, you have to grade this exercise. The student was supposed to show that they can document correctly. Did the student. 

00:05:28 Speaker 1 

Document this. 

00:05:29 Speaker 1 

Well, now the teacher can open up the students workbook, see what they did, and give them a grade. They did it well. They did it medium. They didn’t do it at all. And so by taking those together, plus adding in just basic assessments, what you know, type of test, the traditional test capabilities, quizzes. 

00:05:49 Speaker 1 

That that appear along the way throughout the curriculum, we can add that all up and provide. 

00:05:54 Speaker 1 

A a very. 

00:05:55 Speaker 1 

Comprehensive view of how the students have have succeeded within the the application now that rolls up. 

00:06:03 Speaker 1 

A teacher sees their classroom or their multiple classrooms. A principal will see all the classes in the school and administrator would see all the schools in a district. 

00:06:15 Speaker 2 

Gotcha. Talk a little bit about the day-to-day use. Is this something that is a is a supplement that is done after school? Is it in school kind of give us kind of a a day-to-day kind of use of the tool both I guess? 

00:06:31 Speaker 1 

All of the above. Yeah, it’s it it. 

00:06:33 Speaker 1 

I would say. 

00:06:35 Speaker 1 

I I wish you know, I can’t really tell you a percentage, but it’s really both. I mean, there are a lot of schools that still state schools, districts that are still in the mode where this is an add-on. This is an either an elective or an after school program. 

00:06:52 Speaker 1 

But more and more, this is part of the school’s day, so it may be one day a week for an hour. It may be every day for an hour for a few weeks within a semester, and in some cases it’s a it’s a required. 

00:07:06 Speaker 1 

Subject Within the school program. So we’re seeing across the board more and more it’s becoming part of the the the, the formal education program and again the sweet spot is traditionally the OR right now is probably in the middle school environment. We’re seeing more and more middle school students taking. 

00:07:25 Speaker 1 

Part in that program. 

00:07:27 Speaker 2 

That is interesting. I’ve had conversations about how when you, when you talk about STEM subjects, that it is starting to kind of get younger and younger. That as as the years progress, what is that a cause of? I mean can you can you can you point to something specific in terms of society where you know we’re now putting? 

00:07:47 Speaker 2 

These ideas in the into the minds of of of children, even before they get into high school. 

00:07:52 Speaker 1 

Yeah, I think it’s just societal. In the end. I mean, if we think about what, what, you know what, the math that I studied in university, my daughter studied in high school. And I think today. 

00:08:02 Speaker 1 

Middle school kids are learning that math, and I think they’re on the one hand, they they they’re getting exposure a lot earlier the, the, the, the Internet. 

00:08:11 Speaker 1 

The the tools that. 

00:08:12 Speaker 1 

They have just provide them with more exposure to technology, to industry, to work, to the world that that we ever had when we were growing up and. 

00:08:24 Speaker 1 

And I think it’s, you know, there’s the demand for it in the end. The bigger thing with with STEM and why is? 

00:08:29 Speaker 1 

Stem. So important. 

00:08:31 Speaker 1 

Because if you start, you know, I grew up in a in a different country in a different time and somewhere in the middle of high school I had to choose my direction, where I was going. I think today, kids who get to high school, it’s too late to. 

00:08:45 Speaker 1 

Decided direction. 

00:08:46 Speaker 1 

And so if we don’t introduce students to stem to the concept of science, technology, engineering and math, and really the piece that’s missing is technology and engineering, they see the science and the math, but the technology and engineering, if we don’t introduce students to that in elementary school, we might lose them. Now, when they may go off to be doctors, which is great, or lawyers, which is not so great. 

00:09:08 Speaker 1 

But they may look, they may may go off to be McDonald’s workers, and if they’ve got the the skills and the capabilities to work in a STEM world, but they just don’t know it exists. 

00:09:21 Speaker 1 

That’s a problem, and so STEM is important to bring people into that world of technology. The world of innovation, the world of of invention. 

00:09:32 Speaker 1 

And in TeleTech we take that to the next step because when we go from stem to CTE, we’re taking them into a tech world that is specifically focused at that type of you know, whether it’s medical equipment or manufacturing or industrial or automotive versus, for example going into CTE worlds or healthcare. 

00:09:52 Speaker 1 

Or or or. 

00:09:54 Speaker 1 

Hospitality or finance? We take them into the the CTE world of technology. 

00:09:59 Speaker 1 

That’s our uh end to end approach of career to to kindergarten, to career. 

00:10:06 Speaker 1 

Pick them up at early age, introduce them, take them somewhere, and obviously our focus is to take them into industry. 

00:10:15 Speaker 2 

Well, obviously, you know, the past few years have brought a lot of a lot of change, a lot of different changes in thoughts about education and and where to go. CTE has been a big part of that too in terms of people starting to understand, maybe there’s more of an emphasis there versus the traditional higher Ed route. When you look into your crystal ball over the. 

00:10:36 Speaker 2 

The next couple of years. Uh. 

00:10:39 Speaker 2 

Where do you see the the progress going when it comes to not only the advancement of STEM but also the advancement of CTE and baking that into the everyday educational experience? 

00:10:52 Speaker 1 

Well, I think the the you know one the, the the one of the main areas is diversity inclusion and you know. 

00:11:01 Speaker 1 

Again, I I know I’m I’m I’m old, but when when I I went. 

00:11:08 Speaker 1 

I think it was 1992. I went to a Harley-Davidson factory for a visit and there were only men there. There were very few women working there. I think today if you went to that same factory, there would be a a mix and I. So I think that having the the diversity side of it is is really important that it’s going. 

00:11:28 Speaker 1 

To make a big change. 

00:11:30 Speaker 1 

It grows our workforce. 

00:11:32 Speaker 1 

In the end, we’re giving people that were traditionally told. That’s not the type of job you want the opportunity to go into that job, and that’s really important. But the flip side is, you know, the economy has changed. 

00:11:46 Speaker 1 

Uh, since cold, there is a lot more being done in the United States, which was previously offshore, and that’s being brought back. And the reason it’s being brought back is not necessarily because globalization doesn’t work. That’s because we’ve got, we need skilled workers. 

00:12:08 Speaker 1 

A factory worker is not someone who puts bolts onto a screw and comes on. 

00:12:13 Speaker 1 

The factory worker runs a process, takes care of equipment designs, builds and installs equipment. This is a good, well, good, well paying job and so we need to fill that gap because for many years. 

00:12:31 Speaker 1 

You either went to university and became a professional, or you dropped out and you went into retail. 

00:12:39 Speaker 1 

And we’ve got to refill that bucket of of skilled workers in that middle tier employment range. And it’s a good career to have. It’s a lifelong career. It pays well and you will be able to have that job for your entire life. 

00:12:56 Speaker 1 

And that’s what what, what we need, we need to fill that and I think. 

00:13:00 Speaker 1 

That promoting stem promoting CTE, that’s what we’re we’re trying to achieve. We’re trying to fill the bucket with, with, with, with labor, they’re, you know, there’s the the, there’s the semiconductor industries building fabs all around the country. You know talking about 10s of thousands of of employees that are short the statistics in manufacturing. 

00:13:22 Speaker 1 

10s of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of employees missing. 

00:13:26 Speaker 1 

Talking in in, in, in very, very large numbers. 

00:13:30 Speaker 1 

We can’t train that many people even. 

00:13:33 Speaker 1 

If we try, but we’ve got to. 

00:13:34 Speaker 1 

Try and so we’ve got to fill that bucket and that’s what stem is doing. It’s taking people that maybe will not find a place for themselves in. 

00:13:45 Speaker 1 

In in in the workforce, unless they know that there’s the space for technology and that they become familiar with it and they go into it, that’s that’s what what we’re we’re focused on and told. 

00:13:58 Speaker 2 

Well, exciting stuff. Look forward to seeing, and TeleTech and Coder Z next week down on the show floor in person, but in the meantime again, Graham, I appreciate your time and and your insights into the work that you do. It’s it’s impressive stuff. 

00:14:12 Speaker 1 

It’s a pleasure. Thank you very much for your time. 

Kevin Hogan
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