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Tell Achieve that the Next Generation Science Standards Should Include CS

Thursday, June 21, 2012

(cross posted from CSEdWeek's Blog)

On May 11, the Washington, DC-based group Achieve released its first public draft of the “Next Generation Science Standards” -- or NGSS. These standards, coupled with the “Common Core” standards for mathematics are meant to define how states should think about K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Since these standards will ultimately drive what gets taught in science classrooms across the country, the stakes are high.

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)

The development of the NGSS is a state-led process managed by Achieve. The twenty-six participating states and their supporters hope these new K-12 science standards will be “rich in content and practice” and “arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades” to provide students an “internationally benchmarked” science education. CinC and computer science educators argued early on in the process that these standards should reflect the importance of teaching and learning computer science in the country’s elementary, middle and high schools. The draft, while it includes elements of “computational thinking” falls far short of our expectations and does not reflect the needs for students in the digital age. CinC sent Achieve a letter explaining its concerns:

“While the draft science standards include elements of computer science and computing concepts in the Engineering, Technology and Applications of Science topics, the attention paid to the discipline of computer science does not match its importance in terms of workforce demand and the opportunities it presents young people in the 21st Century. The significant absence of core computing content is disappointing, as it demonstrates a lack of understanding of the ways in which computing is driving and supporting innovation and discovery in all sciences.”

The standards were released on an interactive website meant to bring clarity to the work and the associated process and to invite feedback from stakeholders. Supporters of the NGSS effort hope these standards will eventually be adopted by all, or most, states. CinC is working hard to convey the concerns of the computing community, but is urging others to weigh in with Achieve and its partners in this effort. Concerned that computer science won’t get the attention it deserves from those deciding what should be taught in science classrooms? Send Achieve your version of this draft letter. (.docx,.pdf,.txt).

Computing in the Core and its members are committed to changing K-12 computer science education policies in a way that supports exposing more young people to computing in grades K-12 and giving more computer science educators the support they need to teach the crucial discipline. While the NGSS letter and the efforts of CinC members in the standards development movement are good examples of our concerns and actions, voices from the field are important as well. Articulating these messages to Achieve as they gear up for a second iteration of these standards and to local and state leaders during CSEdWeek events are invaluable contributions to the CS cause.

Weigh in with Achieve, explain your concerns to your colleagues, friends and neighbors and ask them to get involved, and plan an event to raises these issues around CSEdWeek this year.

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