Computer Science in the Common Core–Speak Up

Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

Computer Science in the Common Core–Speak Up

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Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I really believe that we need more computer science in education long before university. The only national influence on getting any computer science often seems to be the Advanced Placement Computer Science exam though. Good (or bad) as that may be it only effects a small number of schools (about 2000) and a small number of students (rightly 26000 in 2012 I hear). What we really need is for some influential group to speak up and say that computer science is core and needs to be everywhere.

 Achieve is developing “Common Core” standards that are moving into adoption in a large number of states. One would like to think that they would be including computer science in the STEM core but they are not saying much about it.  Aside from some mention of computational thinking (a good thing) the STEM standards do not really go strongly into emphasizing computer science. This is, in the opinion of many a real problem.

Computing in the Core (CinC) which also runs Computer Science Education Week posted a position on their news page yesterday that I think is worth reading. From Tell Achieve that the Next Generation Science Standards Should Include CS

Computing in the Core (CinC), which runs CSEdWeek, is deeply disappointed that both the math and science standards leave computer science by the wayside. While the math standards are well on their way to being implemented and assessed, Achieve’s new effort on the science standards is still in development, and they need to hear from you about the importance of having real, engaging computer science in these standards. (Draft Letter, .docx,.pdf,.txt)

Those of us who value computer science education and believe that its importance is being under valued and under taught have to get up and speak up. Now’s as good a time as any. Later may be too late.



  • We have sort of a Catch-22 here.  If we develop core standards for CS that means schools have to find teachers qualified to teach CS.  For teachers to be qualified to teach CS universities have to be interested in developing CS Ed programs.  For there to be a CS Ed program there have to be professors qualified and experienced in CS Ed.  Good luck with that.  The only source of people that would possibly be qualified to teach such a program would be CS experienced high school teachers that learned CS education the hard way, they built their own program.  Convincing a large number of high school CS teachers to start teaching at the college level probably is not going to happen.  

    If CS were a core standard then at least there would be an incentive for universities to develop a CS Ed program.  As it is now there simply not enough demand from high schools to justify the expenditure by universities.  (This is after having a conversation with the chair of the Education Department at my local university.  Admittedly a very small sample.)

    A whole different conversation is where would the CS class fit in an already crammed high school schedule?  If CS were integrated into science and math that means a re-write of textbooks and programs.  CS would not be a 15 minute vignette add on, it would be at least several weeks which means whatever used to be in that several weeks has to go away.  “Throw out trig identities?!  Are you mad?!”

    The worst part of this whole debate is we have to come up with a solution fairly soon.

  • Well stated Garth. The key though is that we have to start somewhere. It's not going to be easy but we have to drive things in some way.

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