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Schools are serving more students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) than ever before. Early detection and interventions are proven paths to success, but programs designed to help students with ASD often concentrate on providing early intervention. By the time a young adult with ASD faces high school graduation, he or she may have gone years without interventions to prepare for transitioning into the job market or going to college.

Professor Colleen Reutebuch, director of the Reading Institute at the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at UT Austin’s College of Education, wanted to investigate the relationship between high school interventions and post-graduation success for students with ASD.  With colleagues from Vanderbilt and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Reutebuch recently published a study that did just that, titled Addressing the Needs of Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Considerations and Complexities for High School Interventions.

Students at a career fair.Working on behalf of The Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (CSESA), Reutebuch and her team analyzed data from 28 focus groups across four states.

“This study was unique in that feedback from stakeholders was used to design and investigate a comprehensive school- and community-based treatment model for adolescents with ASD,” explained Reutebuch. That feedback offered jarring, though not surprising, results. Participants—a representative mix of stakeholders—underlined the inadequacy of current supports for students with autism. Participants agreed that reliable, replicable teaching methods and supports during high school could drastically improve education, employment, and quality of life outcomes after graduation.

But individualized attention is, on its own, not enough. The study also pinpointed a need for education professionals to work together, behind the scenes, as a unified team of well-trained advocates for students with ASD. “Misinformation about ASD and how to address the educational needs and supports for individuals on the spectrum need to be addressed,” notes Reutebuch. “For the project team, this was important because it indicated a need to disseminate information about ASD, and to incorporate capacity building into professional development for educators and staff.”

With support from educators, family, and the community throughout their school years, evidence points to the likelihood that students with ASD are more likely to attend college and pursue meaningful employment.

“High schools can and should play a more significant role in preparing adolescents with ASD for success in post-school settings,” remarked Reutebuch. “Education and services in high school contribute greatly to an individual’s quality of life and, based on our findings, it is clear that there is tremendous room for improvement.”

Baker HarrellBaker Harrell is more than an award-winning entrepreneur. He is a force for change. This year, Harrell’s Austin-based nonprofit, It’s Time Texas (ITT), will improve the health of more than 5 million Texans in over 550 communities by empowering people to work together to become healthier. The nonprofit is quickly gaining ground across the state, with more than 50 partners and 2,500 participating schools and organizations.

So what led an already successful champion of social change back to the College of Education to earn a doctorate? Harrell explains that the choice, while proving a true challenge, was integral to his continued success.

His Story

As CEO of It’s Time Texas, I work in the public health field, which is a very scientific sector. While it is certainly not required to have an advanced degree to be successful in this field, I believed that pursuing a Ph.D. would allow me to more deeply understand and better address the complex challenges that we are tackling at ITT. In many ways, ITT is my master’s and Ph.D. work come to life.

My doctoral research focused on social change approaches to improve population health. My dissertation tracked major societal shifts in the U.S. that have likely contributed to the “obesogenic” social environment in which most Americans now live. I compared and contrasted social marketing and social movements as potential approaches to address this issue.

By attending the College of Education, I became more proficient as a lifelong learner and deepened my understanding of who I am as a person (especially my many limitations) through the process. Earning my Ph.D. was the dying wish of my grandfather, for whom I am named, and that was definitely the most special aspect of crossing the finish line.

Why UT?

After completing my master’s degree in health education at UT Austin, I wandered the university as a “homeless” Ph.D. student for nearly two years, taking classes in a variety of departments. When I could not find a department that would allow me to pursue the interdisciplinary course of study that interested me, I decided that I would discontinue my studies. Around this time, I ran into Dr. Jan Todd, with whom I had bonded early in my master’s work. When I told her about my situation, she informed me that she had recently created an interdisciplinary Ph.D. track in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education for “unconventional” students like me. If not for Dr. Todd, my journey would have been cut short.

Baker HarrellPresentingI think the breadth of disciplines that are housed within the College of Education makes it uniquely fertile ground for students who, like me, are interested in the new knowledge and innovations that can only be generated within the intersection of disparate fields, theories, and disciplines. More specifically, I so enjoyed and benefited from the opportunity to work with and learn from many talented professionals within the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, and I am forever grateful to Dr. Todd for giving me the freedom, encouragement, and support to pursue my rather circuitous academic journey.

Because I was working full-time while pursuing my master’s and Ph.D. at UT, I would say that my ability to constantly apply what I was learning in school in the professional sphere was incredibly helpful. I was fortunate to have wonderful professors who helped shape me professionally and academically. In addition to Dr. Todd, Drs. Bartholomew, Hunt, Kohl, Lambdin, Loukas, Stanforth, Steinhardt, and Vandewater were all hugely influential in making my experience at UT a transformative one.

Life After UT

In my role as CEO of ITT, I am blessed to serve alongside an amazing team of change agents who work each day to make it easier for Texans to lead healthier lives and build healthier communities.

Shortly after graduation this past May, my wife, Lisa, and I found out that she is pregnant with our first child—a girl. She is due in January. We are equal parts freaked-out and overjoyed. I will continue to wake up each day seeking to be the best husband, leader, friend, human, and soon-to-be-father that I can. The rest will take care of itself.

Advice for Students

For a prospective doctoral student, I suggest that you fully understand your personal and professional objectives for pursuing a Ph.D. and design your course of study (and your curriculum/dissertation committees) to precisely align with and advance those objectives. I encountered fellow students throughout my doctoral studies who reported feeling led by rather than leading their courses of study. Pursuing a Ph.D. is likely one of the most significant investments you will ever make; as such, you should be unapologetic in making that investment work for you.

For current students, I strongly advise you against leading an organization while pursuing your studies. It can be done, but it hurts. A lot. But if you’re in the middle of it and it’s your passion, do not quit. I lost count of the number of times I came close to quitting. Develop and nurture (and constantly thank) your support team—you will need them. And stay closely connected to the reasons you decided to pursue your Ph.D. in the first place—those reasons are your “north star,” so make sure they continue to shine bright in your mind.

Hook ‘em!

“You can teach just about anything with salt, baking soda and vinegar,” says Dr. Barufaldi, grinning at the cart loaded with teaching supplies just outside his office in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education. The 43-year veteran of higher education at UT Austin exudes a spritely joviality unmatched by some of his much younger colleagues and eschews coat and tie in favor of more casual, Texas-appropriate attire. Barufaldi has just wrapped up his last-ever college-level class at UT: undergraduate elementary science methods, and seems far from mournful. It’s clear there are plenty of to-dos keeping him occupied, and one can’t help but pick up on a subtle buzz of excited energy.

His energy is legendary in the college. Over the entirety of his professional career in higher education, the Ruben E. Hinojosa Regents Professor, director of the Center for STEM Education and principal investigator for the Texas Regional Collaborative for Excellence in Science Teaching (TRC) has helped drive the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin to become one of the leading institutions of math and science teacher education in the country. Barufaldi, affectionately nicknamed the Godfather of STEM by peers and students, also has produced an impressive library of scholarship, including books, articles, chapters, reviews, papers and seminars delivered to audiences around the globe. In 2003, he was selected for membership in the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at UT Austin and was named a Minnie Stevens Piper Professor in 2002 for “dedication to the teaching profession.” The list of awards and works extends well beyond these pinnacle achievements, but Barufaldi keeps things in perspective. “Research, teaching and service – in that order,” he insists.

IMG_5779As a champion of education research, Barufaldi finds great pride in the work being done by the Center for STEM Education and the TRC. Those engines of innovation have not always run smoothly, as Barufaldi recalls. “One of the major highlights of my career was when Dean Manuel Justiz first arrived at the College of Education. UT was looking to move the STEM Center to a different college, so I wrote Dean Justiz a long letter explaining why I thought we should fight to keep it here. It belongs in education because, like our graduate programs, it’s a very integrated operation. We work with engineers, scientists, mathematicians and educators. Dean Justiz told me recently he still has a copy of that letter.”

Institutional support came in a variety of forms over the years, including constant support from the Dean’s office. “It’s great when you have support from people like Dean Justiz and Dr. Marilyn Kameen [Senior Associate Dean], who have removed a lot of barriers,” says Barufaldi. “It’s easy to operate within a system that supports you, and that includes the Advisory Council, too.”

Specializing in areas like professional development, curriculum design, instructional strategies and science teacher education, Barufaldi strove to connect teachers and learners to the best tools and information available. Most recently, his research has focused on the process of building successful, high-intensity collaboration in the science education community. Through the TRC, Barufaldi and his colleagues have spent the past 23 years changing the landscape of Texas classrooms for the better. “That has been our major contribution to education in the state of Texas and throughout the country,” says Barufaldi of bringing the TRC to the College of Education.

“My favorite part of teaching is connecting with people,” he says. “It’s so refreshing to see 19 year olds going into education and being so enthusiastic about teaching and working with young people.” When asked if his students seem to have changed over the years, Barufaldi pauses to consider, then shakes his head resolutely. “No, they haven’t changed, but the environment has. Social media, the Internet, technology in general – those things have changed.”

And what about his environment? “Everyone here is fun to work with,” he says, smiling. “When I hear professors at other institutions talk about how cutthroat their school is, I feel so lucky. There’s no one-upmanship here. It’s not ‘Look at me! I got three publications!’ it’s ‘How can I help? What can we collaborate on?’ The College of Education is very professional across all five departments. I think maybe that’s in our genes, as educators.”

It should come as no surprise, then, that Barufaldi does not consider his retirement the end of his career. In fact, the next chapter seems to align best with his third element of professorial success: service. “I’m retiring from UT but not from work,” he says, assuredly, listing a packed itinerary of lectures and stints abroad as a visiting scholar. Still, it sounds like his priorities for the future, while just as ambitious as always, are aligned under a primary objective: fun. As a graduation present for his granddaughter, Barufaldi and his wife are treating their family to a trip to the Galapagos.

“Fun is number one,” says Barufaldi, once again beaming as he doles out sound advice. “If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, it’s all for naught. I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve had fun here.”

So have we. Thank you, Dr. Barufaldi, for your research, your teaching and your service. Here’s to having fun while changing the world.



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If caring is the topsoil of mentorship, Richard Reddick has devoted his career to mining the subsurface for what it really takes to support minority students. One layer at a time, he continues to explore how the landscape of academia is influenced by impactful relationships between learners and the learned. To start, he had to pinpoint what makes those relationships unique.

A Student Returns to Teach

Though he excelled in high school and is now an award-winning researcher, Professor Richard Reddick once struggled as a freshman at UT Austin. “I was a high-achieving student in an urban, high minority, high-poverty school in Austin, and a first-generation collegian,” Reddick explains. “The experience was at once fascinating, enthralling, and closed. I felt like I was at a cocktail party wearing the wrong clothes.”

Used to a diverse, working class community, Reddick felt isolated on a campus of majority white, affluent students. Unspoken rules began to emerge, and as a young Black man, Reddick began to be aware of what he now identifies as a “hidden curriculum.” To respect a teacher meant avoiding confrontation, but participation in college lectures required students to defend their arguments. Which was the right choice? Similar questions began adding up.

By chance, Reddick stumbled upon what he calls a “homeplace”: the Office of the Dean of Students. There, he met confident and successful students of color and academic leaders such as Brenda Burt, Sharon Justice, and Jim Vick, who valued his contributions. As he became more involved with the group, Reddick saw his confidence and his grades start to rise.Get Adobe Reader

As if to test this newfound assurance, Reddick missed an important lecture in a seminar on civil rights law. The professor, Dr. Ricardo Romo, happened to be a university administrator with an office in the main building on campus. Reddick decided to step outside his comfort zone and visit Dr. Romo one-on-one.

The elite professor welcomed young Reddick immediately. It was the start of an impactful, long-term mentoring relationship. “He asked me about my life and where I came from, and we discovered we had a lot in common,” says Reddick. Soon, the two men were swapping stories about their shared experiences as student leaders of color. Later, Reddick attended a barbeque at Dr. Romo’s house. Plunged into the electric discourse and debate of chattering graduate students, Reddick felt at once at ease and inspired. “I looked at Dr. Romo and thought, ‘Maybe I can do that one day.’ It was probably such an insignificant day to him, but it was huge for me.” Get Adobe Reader

The impact of mentorship continues to drive Professor Reddick. His work has garnered widespread acclaim as evidenced by alumni achievement awards from both the Harvard Graduate School of Education Get Adobe Reader and The University of Texas. His focus includes insightful explorations into psychosocial theories, best practices and practical methods Get Adobe Reader for cultivating meaningful, caring relationships – especially those between university faculty and students of color.

Defining Mentorship

To a person on the street, mentorship may at first seem like a straightforward concept. Reddick disagrees. “Mentoring isn’t just the one-on-one dyad that we see in popular culture,” he urges. The more precise definition Get Adobe Reader is that mentorship is a close relationship in which a more experienced person serves as a “guide, role model, teacher, and sponsor” of someone less experienced.

“Mentoring is being invested in someone else’s development and success in a meaningful way,” says Reddick, who describes two components of mentoring. “There is career and there is psychosocial advising, but they both have to be used in combination to create mentorship.”

Because, as Reddick’s research has revealed, shared knowledge about best practices in the workplace or in school may fall on deaf ears if an adviser is unaware of major influences in a young person’s life. “I can give advice to anybody, but without knowing the meaningful pieces of that person’s experience, it’s hard to make the advice meaningful as well.”

Disconnect between psychosocial and career aspects of mentoring happens with some regularity in academia. “But,” Reddick points out, “good mentors are never so distant from their experiences that they forget what it was like to be in the spot of their mentee.

Employing professional guidance with a healthy dose of empathy is a critical combination in mentorship. Just as critical is reciprocity. Get Adobe Reader Reddick’s research has identified that open communication between both parties is a necessity. “It’s not just one person dumping all this knowledge out of a bucket,” he says. “It’s a back and forth. Get Adobe Reader Both parties have to be honest, and feel safe telling each other what they really think or feel.”

Benefits for Both

Traditional beliefs about mentorship tend to focus on the experience of the mentee. Life-changing takeaways and course-altering encounters are benefits that dominate discussions, but they often revolve around receiving, rather than giving, guidance.

In a 2011 study, Reddick and two of his colleagues, Dr. Kimberly Griffin and Dr. Richard Cherwitz, describe new findings that prove the positive influence the act of mentoring has on a mentor. Their study, “Answering President Obama’s Call for Mentoring: It’s Not Just for Mentees Anymore,” Get Adobe Reader analyzed a pool of mentor reflections, coded those narratives, and developed themes based on recurring ideas within those narratives.

The study found that mentors tended to describe their relationships as being comprised of four benefits, including a deeper understanding of both themselves and their academic discipline, opportunities to develop advising and mentoring skills necessary for success in their future careers, and a heightened awareness of the reciprocal nature of developmental relationships.

By being exposed to the rewards of mentoring, the research suggests that those people are socialized to use their capabilities for the good of others. In other words, when someone “pays it forward”, he or she experiences such positive emotions that they are inspired to repeat the experience.

The fourth benefit uncovered by the study related to the fact that those mentors interviewed were graduate students working with undergrads interested in pursuing graduate school in a similar field. Mentors felt that they could contribute to the diversity of their field by mentoring a scholar from an underrepresented population. Which raises questions about the disproportionality of students versus professors of color.

This disparity directly affected Reddick as a student and continues to motivate his research today. His work has shown that, while there is definitive need to increase the number of professors of color in academia, an integral part of achieving that increase is for White professors to share the responsibility of intentionally mentoring minority students.

Cross-race Mentoring

In their paper in press at the Journal of the Professoriate, “’I Don’t Want to Work in a World of Whiteness’: White Faculty and Their Developmental Relationships with Black Students,” Reddick and co-author Dr. Katie Pritchett tackle the problem of recruiting Black scholars into the pedagogical echelons of higher education. Hurdles include the fact that students simply aren’t exposed to many Black or minority professors. “It helps to see people in positions that you aspire to,” explains Reddick. “One of the most impactful things for me as a student at UT and at Harvard was learning from professors of color.”

One may jump to placing all the onus of role modeling and mentorship on minority professors. After all, if young people of color need examples of success, shouldn’t it be up to those who’ve “made it?” Reddick’s research proves that is not only an unrealistic approach – it can be downright harmful.

The pressure to go above and beyond weighs heavily on professors of color who are often called upon to bridge the gap between a majority White faculty roster and a school’s minority student population. This “cultural taxation” can be exhausting and, in the end, is an unrealistic and unfair expectation. As A World of Whiteness shows, it is imperative for White faculty to realize and embrace their potential as effective mentors for minority students.

A similar realization is critical for students. “Anyone with an identity outside of the majority – you’re not going to easily find people who think exactly like you or share your identity,” Reddick states bluntly. “You have to say, ‘Okay, I have to find people who can help me get to where I’m going and from whom I can learn.’ And remember, those people will not always think congruently to you. That’s hard.”

A congruence of how a mentor and mentee approach racial issues and identity is critical to the success of cross-racial mentoring. Get Adobe Reader “If you have two people who are race-avoidant,” Reddick explains, “they’re going to get along fine. The same goes for two people who are race-conscious. It’s when you have a mismatch – when one person is candid about issues of racial identity but the other person is not – that trust breaks down.”

The conclusion of Reddick and Pritchett’s study underlines exactly how White faculty can find common ground with Black students. By drawing on their own histories for experiences of discrimination or feelings of “otherness,” White mentors can “create an empathetic frame of reference to better understand microaggressons and marginalization.” While those experiences cannot be presumed to be equivalent to those of minority students, they still serve to afford White faculty a healthy perspective.

Similarly, the study shows that effective White faculty mentors “formed identities that involved knowledge and education of issues pertaining to social justice,” meaning they were primed to be receptive to topics sensitive to minority populations. And, as is true for anyone considering their qualifications as a strong mentor, “White faculty need not assume that their own lives and experiences fail to provide a strong foundation of mentoring wisdom across race.”

“A good mentor will know their strengths and limitations,” Reddick explains. “A lot of mentoring is empathy, and showing that you’ve been to hard places and that you want someone to know more than you did.”

In the end, there is no evidence to suggest that differences in race, gender, or any other identity are definitive predictors of mentoring success. What Reddick and other researchers have proven is that the most important element of mentoring is intent.

–Photos by Christina S. Murrey 

Melba Vazquez

Melba Vazquez

The first Latina and woman of color elected president of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Melba Vasquez surely possesses an above-average skill for leadership. But the oldest child of seven children points to being a member of a supportive family and Mexican American community as her sources of strength. Her parents, themselves unable to finish high school, encouraged Vasquez to excel in school. There, she found support, and mentorship from influential teachers.

Vasquez became the first person in her family to earn a college degree. After teaching middle school for a couple of years she went on to earn a master’s degree Despite her achievements, a Ph.D. seemed unreachable. However, with support of her community, she earned her doctorate degree in 1978.

Her Story
I had never considered a doctorate, and was a bit shy about my ability to assume the identity of someone who could. But the support of professors, students, family and funding from the American Psychological Association (APA) Minority Fellowship Program all combined to make a difference. Ultimately, I was encouraged to apply to the program by a professor who herself was a graduate of the Educational Psychology program at UT Austin.

My two dissertation advisors, Drs. Gary Hansen and Earl Koile, were amazingly supportive and instructive. Dr. Ira Iscoe, director of the University Counseling and Mental Health Center, was a mentor who continuously checked on me, and encouraged practicum and internship experiences at the UT Counseling Center. Dr. Lucia Gilbert was an inspiration in learning how to conduct research in areas like the psychology of women and ethnic minorities. And Dr. June Gallessich was a powerful role model.

Although there were very few minority faculty in the college at the time (none in counseling psychology), our professors were helpful in encouraging connections with minority faculty across the country.

When I did struggle with my studies, I remember thinking that I could not and would not let all those people down, so I persisted! I realize, in retrospect, how very important that solid identity of family and community has been. I didn’t feel that I had just one mentor; I felt “mentored” in various ways at various times by various people!

Why UT?
Dr. Colleen Conoley, my mentor at Texas State University, determined that the program would be a good fit for me, and that I would be a good fit for the profession. Fortunately, she was right! The program, at the time, was one of a few accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA)—a mark of quality and commitment to the field of psychology.

Life After UT
After graduation, I served as a psychologist at the university counseling center, directed the internship training program, and taught in the counseling psychology doctoral program at Colorado State University and later, the University of Texas. After 13 years, I embarked upon full-time independent practice while continuing active involvement in scholarship, mentoring, professional leadership and advocacy.

I fell in love with professional leadership activities, which culminated in my election as the first Latina and woman of color elected president of the APA in 2011. The APA is the largest psychological organization in the world, with a membership of over 130,000 people; it has a staff of almost 600 and a multimillion dollar budget. During my term as president, I supported three major initiatives that resulted in three different cutting-edge evidence-based reports on immigration, discrimination and diversity, and on educational disparities. In fact, one of the major themes of the 2011 APA convention was social justice. Service, advocacy and mentoring have always been tenets of my professional life, and I have been fortunate to receive over 40 awards for work in these important areas.

I have published and edited extensively. I co-authored three books: Ethics in Psychotherapy and Counseling (Pope & Vasquez, 5th edition in process), How to Survive and Thrive as a Therapist (Pope & Vasquez, 2005), and APA Ethics Code Commentary and Case Illustrations (2010, Campbell, Vasquez, Behnke & Kinscherff). I have published more than 80 journal articles and book chapters, and served on the editorial boards of 10 journals. I am currently writing a book on multicultural therapy for an APA Theories of Psychotherapy Monograph series.

I am very lucky to have a spouse, Jim Miller, who has been consistently supportive. He was an educator and school principal, and his second career was as a clinical social worker; we have been in practice together since 1991. I am also happy to report that my mother obtained a bachelor’s degree while I was in graduate school, and each of my six siblings have obtained a bachelor’s or associate’s degree.

Advice for Students
Find ways to be active in whatever aspects of your work for which you feel passion. Take risks, persist and allow for imperfections (everyone makes mistakes—learn from them!). Identify strengths and resilience in yourself and in those with whom you work. Understand that pain is sometimes a part of life. Have confidence, stand up for yourself, and have a stance of openness to those different from you. Behave ethically in all that you do. Articulate the value of diversity, engage in self-care, and support and connect with others. And remember to observe models and mentors.

AUSTIN, Texas — Since September 2005, the city of Austin has enforced an ordinance that prohibits smoking indoors at most public businesses and places of work. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have determined the ban correlates with an appreciable decrease in cigarette usage by UT students.

Dr. Jessica Duncan Cance, Assistant Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education, is lead author of the study published this month in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research. Data was collected via internet-based surveys across six years, and asked students to record how often and how many cigarettes they consumed during the previous three months. Both smoking frequency and cigarette quantity decreased after the ban was enacted. Students were also asked to submit information on drinking habits, but a lack of significant change suggest they were unaffected by the smoking ban.

“This research adds to our understanding of the public health impact of smoke-free ordinances because no other study to date has looked at how indoor smoking bans relate to the behaviors of emerging adults, whose smoking habits have yet to be solidified,” explained Cance. “What is clear is that the city-wide ban influenced our students, and that the change was a positive one for their health.”

Contact: Sibyl Kaufman, Marketing Coordinator, College of Education, 512-232-3396, sibyl.kaufman@austin.utexas.edu; or Dr. Jessica Duncan Cance, Assistant Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, College of Education, UT Austin, jdcance@austin.utexas.edu

February 5, 2015

To address a critical shortage of K-12 computer science teachers, students and courses, the Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching (TRC) hosted a workshop in Austin that brought together computer science researchers, educators and technology industry representatives.

Jason Turnbull

Jason Turnbull of Fort Worth ISD explores an interactive display board at the TACC Vizualization Lab during the TRC CS Network Training.

The TRC, which is part of the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, offers award-winning, high quality, research-based STEM professional development to teachers statewide.

“In case anyone still needs convincing,” said Carol Fletcher, the TRC’s associate director and event organizer, “there’s a wealth of data showing a dire problem in computer science education. Last year, only 15,000 students in the entire state of Texas took computer science I, II or AP classes, and only 90 new teachers passed the certification exam to teach the subject.”

“Even though 20 percent of the jobs in Austin are in technology, and statistics show that by 2020 the U.S. is going to need at least a million more programmers, the number of new computer science degree holders is steadily falling. The TRC is committed to reversing this trend.”

According to Fletcher, the Texas high school teachers who are part of the TRC’s computer science network and who attended the workshop will be among the leaders who transform computer science education around the state.

To create a strong Texas computer science pipeline, workshop participants examined solutions that included:

  • investing in a statewide, systemic program to train and certify skilled computer science teachers
  • incentivizing districts to offer computer science through weighted funding
  • increasing the number of high-level, project-based computer education courses
  • developing online and volunteer resources that connect high schools with interesting, accomplished professionals in computer science fields
  • aggressively recruiting females and minorities with messages and activities specifically targeted to them
  • marketing the variety and scope of possible careers

Kim Garcia

Kim Garcia of Georgetown ISD

Lorilyn Owens, director of Oracle Academy North America, outlined her company’s involvement. “The TRC model helps foster a strong and supportive community of practice, and offers additional support for educators at the regional and state levels.  We are honored to collaborate with an inspirational leader like Carol Fletcher in order sustain and grow Texas’ commitment to computer science education and educators.”

Among the state and national stakeholders who spoke at the workshop were Owen Astrachan, a computer science professor at Duke University; Hal Speed and Jake Baskin with Code.org; Tricia Berry, director of UT Austin’s Women in Engineering Program and the Texas Girls Collaborative Project; Tyra Crockett, senior marketing manager with Oracle Academy; Lien Diaz, the College Board’s senior director of curriculum and content development; and Rosalia Gomez with UT Austin’s Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). IBM, Oracle Academy, TCEA, Dell and the TACC sponsored the event.

“You know, people don’t say, ‘I’m not a reading person,’ but every time you turn around you hear someone say, ‘I’m not a math person,’” said Berry. “It’s crucial that we work on dispelling negative stereotypes and incorrect information about STEM fields and subjects. It’s about creativity as much as the arts are, and it’s about problem solving, exploring and designing. If we can give STEM an image overhaul, more individuals will realize they really are science and math people.”

To learn more about how the TRC is training and supporting a new generation of computer science teachers, visit the TRC’s Computer Science Resources website or contact Carol Fletcher at carol.fletcher@austin.utexas.edu.

College of Education faculty have expertise in areas as wide-ranging as bilingualism, school choice policy, and cognition and exercise. Check out our professors’ latest media mentions and articles.

Cynthia Salinas
“For History Teachers, It’s Not Always Easy to Get Students of Color to Connect with Curriculum.”

“‘I didn’t think much about being a Latina until I got to college and that idea of my identity as a woman and woman of color. I think there was space that could’ve been created well before and I often wonder if I didn’t think about it because I was so not included in the teaching of history.’

Salinas says one positive for history teachers is the growth of digital primary sources. Students are able to access journal entries and letters from a variety of sources, instead of just the documents or examples in textbooks.”

Washington Post
Huriya Jabbar
“How do schools respond to competition? Not as you might expect.”

“If schools, like firms in other markets, can choose to compete in ways other than improving their products — even in ways that violate district policies — a more significant role for a central authority may be warranted. Without some process to manage the current responses to competition like student selection and exclusion, New Orleans could end up with a less equitable school system.”

Huffington Post
Kevin Cokley
“Hollywood, We Have a Problem”

“Portraying history accurately is important for ensuring a minimal level of historical literacy and cultural competency among citizens. Less acknowledged but equally important, accuracy is important for the psychology and collective consciousness of people, especially those who have been historically marginalized, under-represented and devalued.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Darla Castelli
“When Colleges Abandon Phys Ed, What Else Is Lost?”

“Ms. Castelli says one study suggests that people get cognitive benefits from coordinated movements—as in, say, dance, where a person has to work off of and respond to a partner. And there are new theories that active people can build up a cognitive “reserve” that will stave off decline as they head into their 30s and beyond.”

The Conversation
Rebecca Callahan
“Know more than one language? Don’t give it up!”

“Speaking more than one language may confer significant benefits on the developing brain. Research has now shown that bilingual young adults not only fare better in the job market, but are also more likely to demonstrate empathy and problem-solving skills.

The fact is that American adults are largely monolingual English speakers, even those who began life speaking more than one language. Based on the latest research, it might be time to rethink the emphasis on monolingualism in the US.”


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