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Whitepaper  February 1, 2021

Building Teacher Capacity in K–12 Computer Science by Promoting Formative Assessment Literacy

SRI Authors Satabdi Basu, Daisy Wise Rutstein, Carol E. Tate



Basu, S., Rutstein, D., & Tate, C. (2021). Building teacher capacity in K–12 computer science by promoting formative assessment literacy. National Comprehensive Center.


The rapid expansion of computer science (CS) instruction in primary and secondary education has highlighted the shortage of teachers qualified to teach the subject. A key strategy for building CS teaching capacity has been preparing teachers of other subjects (e.g., math, technology applications, business) to teach introductory CS through short-term professional development (PD) workshops or online training modules. However, these professional learning experiences tend to be brief in duration and focused on short-term adoption of specific CS curricula, or technology-enhanced tools at the expense of developing teachers’ conceptual understanding of CS standards, and pedagogy for monitoring and supporting students’ progress toward the standards. This white paper highlights some of the challenges faced by current CS teachers and presents a call to action for states and school districts to support CS teacher capacity building through standards-aligned, sustained, scalable, and reusable teacher PD that focuses on promoting teachers’ CS formative assessment literacy as a way to improve teachers’ ability to effectively teach CS. The corresponding practice guide provides concrete steps to systematically develop or select formative assessment tasks and use them to inform instruction.

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