$1 million grant to fund development of new AP Computer Science - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

$1 million grant to fund development of new AP Computer Science courses

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Certain skill sets match certain careers. Computer skill,  especially software development are in demand now, and will be even more so in the future. One University of Alabama professor's fear is that students won't be ready for the jobs in high demand.

Software development positions are expected to grow by more than 30 percent over the next decade. Professor Jeff Gray wants students ready to fill those positions. He's working with educators to develop a new AP curriculum and test to get students excited about a career in computer science.

"Computer science has the largest number of job offers per major. Software is in everything from your video games to your ipod or android. And hence computer science majors are in high demand," said Gray.

With proper guidance, he knows students could learn much more. The challenge is transforming the way most computer science classrooms operate.

"What being taught in those classes is basically how to do Microsoft, learning about word or power point. Those are very commodity skills that are needed, but they're not the skills for the next generation of needs," said Gray.

Gray says computer science requires a set of problem-solving skills that are lacking in Alabama classrooms.

"In computer science we had just under 100 students take the exam. There's over a quarter million high school students in Alabama. So if you weigh all the job opportunities and where the demand is going to be, we're not really preparing our students to take on those jobs."

That could soon change. A $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation affords Gray the opportunity to collaborate with A+ College Ready.

Together, they will develop a new AP curriculum and AP exam for Alabama computer science courses. Fifty teachers from across the state have been chosen to begin training.

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