MARLBOROUGH – The growing importance of a K-12 computer science curriculum in schools and a renewed emphasis on addressing the social and emotional well being of students were the key topics of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents annual spring conference.
More than 200 school district leaders attended the conference, which served as an opportunity for collaboration and discussion for school system CEOs working to address issues and share best practices in improving teaching and learning.
“We need to continue to focus on updating our Massachusetts curricular pathways, from elementary through high school, to include expanded opportunities for computer science instruction,” said Burlington Public Schools Superintendent Eric Conti. “These pathways have to be made available to all of our students in urban, rural, and suburban areas, at our comprehensive high schools, at our tech schools, and at our college prep high schools. We are in a 50-state competition, a global competition. We need all of our students to have an understanding of this new literacy.”
Working with and hearing from students was a big part of the agenda. At one point, four students from the Kuss Middle School in Fall River served as the instructors, teaching superintendents a class lesson in computer science.
The biggest highlight was a roundtable panel discussion not by educators but by students. The panel included students from across the state and across the country, including a survivor of the Parkland, Fla. school shooting. The discussion centered around identifying and addressing the social and emotional health of students.
“It is critically important for us to pay attention to our students, to hear directly from them when thinking about how we work on these issues,” said Thomas Scott, executive director of the association.
Other guest speakers included Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeff Riley, State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey, and Steve Vinter, who heads Google Boston and is also the company’s executive coach.