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Local

DeKalb High School has high hopes for coding program; D-428 board to considered it at next meeting

District 428 Board reaches consensus to move toward a final vote

Ben Bayle (right), chief technology officer for the district, and Michael Lofthouse (middle), DeKalb High School math teacher and Robotics Team coach, present their pitch for the continuation of the CodeHS pilot program in the district Tuesday.
Ben Bayle (right), chief technology officer for the district, and Michael Lofthouse (middle), DeKalb High School math teacher and Robotics Team coach, present their pitch for the continuation of the CodeHS pilot program in the district Tuesday.

DeKALB – Students at DeKalb High School will have continued opportunity to learn coding, which administrators are calling a “21st-century foundational skill, just like reading and writing,” thanks to the success of its pilot year.

The District 428 School Board gave its consensus to bring the CodeHS program back to the board at the next meeting in May for a vote, to implement it for the 2019-20 school year at a cost of $9,800 for an annual site license.

Ben Bayle, chief technology officer for District 428, said he can envision a time soon when elementary-age students might be able to use the program, especially with the rise in science, technology, engineering and math programming.

“As STEM and STEAM-based curriculum start to expand, and 21st-century skills start to take hold even more than they already have, then it only makes sense to introduce students into career pathways which help them find legitimate careers as soon as they graduate,” Bayle said. “Computer programming, coding and designing are some of the most lucrative and sought-after jobs in the market currently.”

The CodeHS program was piloted for the 2018-19 school year at DeKalb High School only, through the Computer Science 1 and 2 and AP Computer Science courses.

Students learn how to code, the ins and outs of computer languages and other digital skills they can put to practical use, such as in the DHS Robotic’s Team.

Michael Lofthouse, who coaches the robotics team and teaches math at DHS, recently took Huntley Middle School’s robotics team to a competition in Detroit, Michigan.

“There is a middle school version of the team, but the coding is just as intense,” Lofthouse said.

He said the program easily could move into Huntley because the area has middle-schoolers who are more than capable of understanding the complex coding curriculum.

Bayle said that once the program gains traction, the hope is to expand it to other schools in the district.

“Scaling this further than the high school makes 100% sense, but it has to follow the curriculum,” Bayle said. “As soon as the curriculum is at that place, then it makes sense to introduce the platform.”

Board member Jeff Hallgren applauded the program and inquired about the possibility of a dual-credit option to allow DHS students taking the course to gain college credit or accreditation for industry jobs right out of high school.

“This seems like that would be right up that alley,” Hallgren said. “You’d be moving out of high school right into a job.”

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