When the nation’s EdTech director left office in December, he headed home to Rhode Island (RI) where he became the state’s first Chief Innovation Officer.

We caught up with Richard Culatta (@rec54) at the iNACOL Symposium, where he told us about an exciting statewide computer science initiative.

What’s the goal?

Earlier this year, Governor Raimondo rolled out an ambitious plan to offer computer-science classes in every school in Rhode Island by Fall 2017. Known as CS4RI, the program positions RI to become the first state in the country to offer computer science in all schools.

In March we launched the CS4RI program with a challenge to become the first state in the country to offer computer science (CS) in all schools.

Who is involved?

We developed a series of curriculum partners—URI, Brown, Project Lead the Way, Code.org and Microsoft TEALS—to provide schools with a variety of options to choose from. Descriptions, grade levels and teacher supports are all described on our Program page.

Where did you start?

We immediately kicked off a major outreach initiative to connect with schools. By the end of the school year, we had received commitments from nearly half of the schools in the state to begin offering CS this fall. Our curriculum partners then began the ambitious task of providing a CS bootcamp training to over 300 teachers from across the state over the summer.

Who is guiding the way?

We created a CS advisory council, led by the RI STEAM Center, with representatives of schools, parents and commercial partners. We also recruited CS professionals from RI companies to co-teach many of the high school AP CS courses.

How is teacher prep involved?

We launched a partnership between Rhode Island College and General Assembly to offer training to pre-service teachers starting this year (this is the first partnership between General Assembly and a university).

How many schools are involved?

We currently have just over 180 schools offering CS, including most of the high schools; 54 of the 66 high schools in the state are now offering CS this school year.

How is the program supported?

The state provided $260,000 for teacher training. Bootstrap (at Brown University) and the University of Rhode Island programs also had some support from National Science Foundation grants. We also developed great partnerships with RI businesses (known as CS4RI Anchor Companies) to help cover teacher training and materials.

Anyone taking notice?

There was a nice article in the Providence Journal. They quoted Susan Ahlstrom from the Academy for Career Exploration who said, “It’s really quite amazing [to see] the enthusiasm and dedication on the part of businesses, nonprofits [and] schools … all working toward getting these students toward the skills that are relevant.”

We also got a shout-out from the President encouraging other states to look at the model Rhode Island was using.

How can we learn more?

Attend the CS4RI Summit on December 14 or go to www.CS4RI.org

For more, see:


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