States Ramp Up Computer Science Standards
By Joseph Hedger
Thirty-four states have K-12 computer science standards, according to Code.org, up from seven in 2016. In parallel with this wave of new standards adoption, 23 state boards of education included computer science on their agendas in the first half of 2019, according to NASBE’s State Board Insight. State boards in Alaska, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Wyoming adopted new computer science standards so far this year, as did North Dakota, which does not have a state board.
Passed in 2019, Georgia Senate Bill 108 requires all middle and high schools in the state to offer computer science by the 2024–25 school year, allowing for a gradual rollout so districts can find and properly train a teacher workforce. With high school standards already in place, the Georgia state board adopted the K-8 Standards of Excellence for Computer Science, which are organized by grade bands in order to provide flexibility while transitioning students to subsequent levels of instruction. They begin with basic familiarization of the subject in grades K-2, move into deeper involvement in grades 3–5, and get more thorough treatment in grades 6–8.
The Kansas State Board of Education voted to adopt the Kansas P-12 Computer Science Model Standards during its April 2019 meeting. Kansas’s model standards provide a core foundation for a complete computer science curriculum for each school grade, including in preschool, where students begin with basic instruction in topics like algorithmic thinking, where students learn to define clear steps to solve a problem (for example, tying a shoe). No other state includes grade levels before kindergarten in their computer science standards.
Michigan’s K-12 Computer Science Standards—adopted May 14—define what students need to know through five levels: 1A (K-2); 1B (3–5); 2 (6–8); 3A (9–10); and 3B, high school specializing (11–12). While the schoolwide curriculum standards finish with grade 10, the final level provides students who wish to pursue computer science further an opportunity to take specialty or elective courses.
The Missouri State Board of Education in May adopted K-12 Computer Science Performance Standards to ensure that students in five grade bands study the why and how of computer operations. The standards also build up the teaching workforce by adding subject-matter qualifications and providing professional development options through the Computer Science Education Fund, created by the legislature in 2018. The state board can use this fund to award grants to eligible professional learning entities.
In 2018, the Wyoming Department of Education launched Boot Up Wyoming 2022 to implement computer science in every school across the state. This initiative requires that standards be developed, approved, and fully implemented at the beginning of the 2022–23 school year. After collecting public input, the Wyoming State Board of Education voted in April to promulgate the proposed 2019 computer science standards. Within these, benchmarks are provided so students in each grade band (K-5, 6–8, and 9–12) can demonstrate their proficiency. In high school, these benchmarks are split into two levels, allowing some students to engage at a deeper level.