Law prioritizes computer science in schools
Working to get high-quality computer science courses into the classroom is the focus of legislation that was signed into law today.
The legislation is designed to meet a growing need for 21st century skills and to ensure students graduate from high school ready for further education or careers.
“Ensuring all Iowa students develop foundational skills in computer science will prepare them for a changing world and position them to take advantage of opportunities in a growing professional sector,” said Ryan Wise, director of the Iowa Department of Education.
The computer science law is not a mandate; participation is voluntary. The legislation establishes a computer science professional development fund, set to launch in July 2018 pending an appropriation, and allows schools to apply to the department for funds to provide high-quality professional learning for computer science teachers. Through the professional development fund, the law incentivizes schools to offer at least one high-quality computer science course in high school, instruction in exploratory computer science in middle school, and instruction in the basics of computer science in elementary school.
The law also tasks the Iowa Department of Education with convening a computer science education work group, which will be announced later this month and will consist of a cross-section of Iowans including educators, higher institution representatives and businesses, to name a few.
The work group must submit its recommendations to the General Assembly by November. The recommendations will include how a high-quality computer science course could meet a math or science requirement in high school. In addition, the work group must determine how delivery of a computer course would be accomplished, whether in school, online and/or concurrent enrollment with a community college.
The law also calls for the State Board of Education to determine academic standards for high-quality computer science education, in which it would be outlined what concepts students should know from kindergarten through 12th grade about computers science. In addition, the law calls for the Board of Educational Examiners to determine what a teacher’s endorsement in computer science would look like.
”This law presents an exciting opportunity for Iowa and will position the state as a leader in ensuring students are prepared for the demands of the future,” Wise said.