State School Board to Consider Computer Science Standards

The Oklahoma State Board of Education will hold a special meeting on Thursday, March 7 to comply with new 2 percent budget mandates.

But it will also consider computer science standards that, if approved, will result in Oklahoma joining nine other states with computer science standards and only two with grade-specific expectations.

“Computer science is the 21st century’s most universal language,” said Joy Hofmeister, State Superintendent of Public Instruction. “These research-based standards provide a challenging framework for specific courses that teach our young adults advanced programming and networking skills needed for an ever-growing workforce, yet are versatile enough to be incorporated into all grades and subjects.”

Written for each grade level, beginning in kindergarten, the standards are intended to guide teachers as they integrate computer science objectives across core subject areas such as reading, science and mathematics. In the early grades, the standards will teach children the value of creating secure passwords, interpreting simple data from graphs and learning that files can be saved, edited and organized.

Meanwhile, high school standards for computer science classes will require students to recommend solutions to cybersecurity breaches, analyze increasingly complex data problems and evaluate how data is stored. Other concepts the standards address include computing systems, networks, algorithms and programming.

“It was important that we not confine computer literacy to middle school and high school,” Hofmeister said. “Early childhood is the optimal time to introduce computer science concepts. These standards will equip today’s generation of early learners to be the coders of tomorrow.”

The Oklahoma Academic Standards for Computer Science, created under OSDE’s direction, represent the work of a statewide team of 38 educators from K-12, CareerTech and higher education. Feedback received from public comment between December 2017 and February 2018 helped shape the standards.

OSDE is offering professional development opportunities for teachers to facilitate their understanding of computational thinking. This summer, OSDE will launch a three-year, $1 million Computer Science for All grant, awarded through the National Science Foundation, to provide professional development to Oklahoma teachers to begin integrating computer science concepts into pre-algebra and algebra coursework.

Pending the approval of the State Board, the standards will go to the Legislature for consideration. If adopted, Oklahoma schools will be encouraged to begin implementation during the 2018-19 school year. OSDE will provide support structures and professional development opportunities before full implementation in the 2019-20 school year.

The meeting begins at 11:30 a.m. at the State Education Department headquarters at the state capitol.