February 16, 2016

Coding the Future

Baton Rouge College Preparatory (BRCP) implemented a new coding program to prepare their students for college, and the ever-changing technology landscape. BRCP opened its doors last fall to approximately 120 fifth and sixth graders with the mission to build a strong foundation of knowledge and skills to prepare each student for higher education.Earlier this year, President Obama called for more coding and computer science classes for high schools across the country to equip students with the necessary skills to compete within the technology driven economy. BRCP plans to keep their scholars ahead of the curve by implementing a coding curriculum starting in middle school and advancing through high school. This January, fifth and sixth graders started to learn basic block coding and will gradually be introduced to more advance programing as the spring continues. Coding, a combination of math, science, and creative arts, enhances students problem-solving skills, endurance, and ability to work in teams. Students will eventually learn several programming languages as they continue to master the basics. The program is uniquely designed to grow with students as they go from basic block coding in middle school to AP Computer Science in high school.Parents of BRCP scholars are excited about the coding program and growing technology opportunities in Baton Rouge for their children. Computer science is a rapidly growing field with high paying jobs and vast opportunities for young people right out of college. In fact, many higher education programs have had to readjust their curriculum to include some form coding education in order for their graduates to compete in the workforce. According to an article released in November by Education Week, the number of students taking the AP computer science exam grew by 24% from last year, however, the students taking the test are still predominantly white and male. Kathryn Rice, BRCP School Director, commented “computer science is a high demand field, with high-paying jobs, and right now there are very few individuals like our scholars – almost all African American, almost all qualifying for the federal school lunch program – in the tech spaces across the nation.”BRCP is committed to preparing their students with a strong academic foundation, strength in character, and technological understanding to not only set them apart, but also give them the confidence and ability to compete for jobs in whatever path they choose.The students have responded positively to the coding program and are actively engaged during lessons. As the year progresses students will continue to learn and even code their own video games. The program brings a lot of hope and new opportunities for BRCP scholars as they learn new skills to prepare them for the future, but the coding program does face a few challenges. The biggest obstacle is lack of access to technology. Currently, computers are being shared between classes while BRCP actively looks for ways to increase the amount of technological resources.In just six months, BRCP has made a powerful impact by cultivating strong and meaningful relationships with students and their families. With BRCP’s plans to add a grade each year, the school has successful created a unique learning environment to foster steady growth for its students as the school slowly expands to serve grades five through twelve.For more information about Baton Rouge College Prep, visit brcollegeprep.org

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