CS4RI - A State-Wide Initiative

CS4RI (Computer Science for Rhode Island) is a state initiative to bring high quality computer science (CS) learning experiences to all students.  It represents a partnership between Rhode Island state government, the Rhode Island Department of Education, K-12 schools, higher education, private industry, and non-profits across the Rhode Island.  Launched in 2016 by the Office of Governor Gina Raimondo with the aim of having computer science (CS) taught in every public school, CS4RI worked with stakeholders across the state to reach that goal in December 2017.  

Today, CS4RI focuses on building educator capacity by providing access to quality computer science professional development opportunities; developing rigorous and sustainable K-12 pathways, supporting districts with implementation strategies and resources; and accelerating demand and momentum for CS education.  CS4RI continues to prioritize and identify broadening participation as a major target.

CS4RI partners with CS content providers to offer schools – at no cost to districts - a menu of CS options to meet the needs of their students including Code.org, Project Lead the Way, Bootstrap, Brown University, the University of Rhode Island, and Microsoft TEALS.  CS4RI also has strong connections with industry partners who provide additional funds, volunteer mentors, and CS expertise.

CS4RI continues to strive to make CS part of every Rhode Island student’s educational experience.

Why CS4RI?

Before the launch of CS4RI in 2016:

  • AP Computer Science was only offered in only 9 public high schools, and no Title I schools (i.e., schools where at least 40% of a school's students are from low-income families).
  • Only 1% of RI high school students were enrolled in CS courses.
  • In 2014, fewer than 350 students graduated from a Rhode Island college/university with a bachelor’s degree in CS, but there were more than 1,000 open CS jobs available in the state.
  • Only 42 Rhode Island public school students took the Computer Science AP test in 2015, less than 1% of the total AP exams taken across the state. Only 26 passed with a score of 3 or higher. Of those students who earned a passing grade, 73.1% were white, and 76.9% were male. This compared with 68.1% white and 41.6%% male for all public school AP test takers.

The Challenge

Creating a talented and diverse pipeline of students with computer science (CS) expertise is critical to our economic future. Rhode Island’s IT industry is a leading force in our economy, and STEAM and IT jobs are among our fastest growing positions. We need to develop a workforce with the skills necessary to fill these high – wage, high – growth jobs.

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All Rhode Island students should have the opportunity to take CS-related classes as early as kindergarten, and we should make sure Rhode Island public high school student have access to AP computer science courses. We must focus particularly on attracting students who have traditionally not participated in computer science. To increase our computer science options across all grades, we must engage community partners and resources and support schools and teachers in expanding their offerings. 

What CS4RI Will Do

  • Teach students the skills that matter, starting as early as kindergarten
  • Help students obtain jobs in sectors that pay high wages and provide high quality of life by giving them 21st century skills
  • Attract leading-edge businesses to invest in Rhode Island by demonstrating a commitment to building a pipeline of trained and talented workersAddress disparities in order to create opportunities to ensure that all students can make it in Rhode Island