Computer knowledge and skills are increasingly
becoming recognized as foundational for an educated citizenry. Therefore it is becoming increasingly more
important that all students have access to high-quality computer science education. Understanding the importance of computer science
education, the Connecticut State Department of Education has made computer science a priority
in recent years. The push to expand computer science education
in Connecticut began in 2014 with the formation of a computer science advisory group. This group’s primary responsibility was
to draft the computer science position statement that was adopted by the board in 2016. This document has been a driving force in
the continued efforts to expand computer science education. The position statement document outlines beliefs
and guidelines about computer science education to ensure the changing needs of the workplace,
technology and global economy are met. Specifically it speaks to developing computational
thinking which is characterized by logical ordering and analyzing data and creating solutions
using a series of ordered steps. These are fundamental skills that are necessary
to become college and career ready in today’s world and therefore efforts to provide a comprehensive
computer science education to ALL students must be increased. This is not something that can be accomplished
in isolation. All stakeholders have a responsibility to
the children in our state. It is for this reason that the position statement
outlines specific responsibilities for various groups of stakeholders. Within the position statement, specific responsibilities
of the Connecticut State Department of Education were cited. The work at the agency has and continues to
address these responsibilities. Specifically, computer science standards were
adopted in June, 2018, opportunities for professional learning in the area of computer science is
disseminated via listservs out of the Academic Office, and the agency engages collaboratively
with computer science professionals both within Connecticut and nationally. We can’t do this work alone. School districts are our partners in ensuring
that all students in Connecticut receive a high-quality computer science education. This can be accomplished by allocating instructional
time to computer science and offering a continuum of computer science experiences from elementary
school to high school. Computer science has not just been a focus
at the state level. Computer science has gained national attention
in recent years and in 2016, The Association for Computing Machinery,, the Computer
Science Teachers Association, the Cyber Innovation Center, and the National Math and Science
Initiative collaborated with states, districts, and the computer science education community
to develop conceptual guidelines for computer science education. The K-12 Computer Science Framework was not
an independent effort. The final framework was the result of input
from a variety of stakeholders. The 27 writers represented a range of states,
districts, industry partners and other interested organizations. The framework was developed with a vision
for computer science education. Through a strong foundation in computer science,
students will not only be prepared to live in the digital world, they will have the capacity
to create future technologies. They will understand the impact that computing
has on not only aspecific field, but on society as a whole. The framework articulates 5 core concepts
related to computer science. While the order of the 5 concept areas do
not prescribe an instructional order, they are arranged to illustrate the movement from
the physical reality of computer science to the societal impact. Each successive layer gets more abstract. In addition to the core concepts, 7 practices
are identified. The concepts and practices fit together to
create meaningful computer science experience for students. Although computer science is an independent
discipline, there is overlap particularly in the areas of science and engineering and
math. This graphic highlights the connections with
computer science and the math practices found in the Connecticut Core Standards, computer
science and the practices noted in the Next Generation Science Standards and ultimately
how all three relate to each other. There is a distinct difference between a framework
and standards. In very simple terms a framework is a general
guideline that provides a basic structure while standards are more specific and able
to be measured. Therefore, the framework was the foundation
for the creation of standards that are the basis for instruction related to computer
science. Following the release of the K-12 Computer
Science Framework, the Computer Science Teachers Association revised their computer science
standards. The Framework consists of discrete statements
of what students know or do. Standards are built from the framework statements
and consist of what students know and do. The standards developed by the Computer Science
Teachers Association align to the framework and define measurable learning from kindergarten
to grade 12. Schools and districts are responsible for
developing the curriculum which is how the standards will be taught. The Framework consists of concepts and practices. The concepts are high-level expectations of
what students should understand the practices describe the way that this should be done. Together, defining what students should know
and be able to do results in standards that are independent, specific and measurable. The revised standards released by the Computer
Science Teachers Association in 2017 align to the framework statements, are based on
a progression of learning, and provide a foundation for the study of computer science. On June 6, 2018, the Connecticut State Board
of Education adopted these standards as the basis for computer science education in the
state. Districts can now use these adopted standards
to write computer science curriculum. The Computer Science Teachers Association
Computer Science Standards identify measurable student performance expectations by grade
band. The expectations contained in the K-2, 3-5,
6-8 and 9-10 grade bands are intended for all students to ensure a comprehensive computer
science education. The 11-12 grade band is for students who are
looking to pursue further study in computer science or related fields. Within the standards there are 7 practices
and 5 concepts that were in the framework and there are 16 identified sub-concepts. To recap what has been discussed so far, the
framework is a high level, conceptual guide. It should not be confused with standards. Standards are specific measurable performance
expectation and should not be confused with curriculum. Curriculum is what and how to teach the standards. Curriculum that addresses the standards that
have been adopted by the state is determined at the local level. Since the standards are identified by grade
band as opposed to a specific grade, districts have a great deal of flexibility in how they
choose to implement the standards in their schools. In order to assist districts in determining
an implementation plan, the Connecticut State Board of Education adopted the Connecticut
Computer Science Implementation Guidelines in partnership with the adoption of the standards. This document was created by a diverse group
of stakeholders. It not only provides some background and information
relative to the discipline of computer science, it also provides a detailed description of
the practices and standards organization as well as various models and resources to support
implementation. There are a variety of pathways that districts
can use when implementing computer science and it depends in large part by the level
of exposure to computer science the district is striving for. Districts that are newly implementing a computer
science curriculum may first have basic exposure to the content while they develop teacher
capacity and a long term computer science plan. Others may choose to have a deep exposure
to computer science and others may fall somewhere in between. Regardless of the path that is chosen by the
district, computer science should be for all students. Finding time for computer science in an already
busy school day can be a challenge. At the elementary and middle school level,
time for computer science can be found by creating a course that specifically teaches
computer science during a set time in the day or week similar to art or music. Another option at the elementary and secondary
level is to embed computer science into the already existing curriculums. There are a variety of resources for computer
science that align to the Connecticut Core Standards as well as the Next Generation Science
Standards. At these levels, 20 hours of yearly instruction
is recommended. Lastly, computer science instruction does
not require any specific hardware or software. There are lessons that are both “plugged”
meaning utilizing technology and “unplugged” which do not that still address the standards
and teach the fundamental concepts of computer science. At the high school level, computer science
education is most easily achieved by offering stand alone courses. Establishing a pathway of courses instead
of just a singular computer science course is recommended as this will be the best way
to prepare and encourage students to take AP level computer science courses. Based upon the new graduation requirements
that begin with the class of 2023, computer science courses could count towards the nine
credits in science, technology, engineering and math depending upon local policy. Computer science has come a long way in a
relatively short amount of time in Connecticut. collects data relative to 9 different
state criteria. When we look at CT we have completed 3 of
the 9 including having a dedicated computer science position at the state department,
adopting standards, and allowing computer science to count as a core graduation requirement. Three additional items are well underway. A basic state plan has been developed, but
more time needs to be spent on determining timelines and indicators of success. An internal workgroup has submitted recommendations
on certification and further work in this area is on the horizon. Finally, some of our institutes of higher
education are beginning to take a close look at computer science in terms of teacher prep
and professional learning. Given the local nature of our educational
structure, we may never complete all 9, but in a short time, we have made some headway. Additional information about computer science
is available on the computer science page of the Connecticut State Department of Education
website. In addition, a listserv has been created to
keep the field up to date on opportunities for teachers and students related to computer
science. Finally, there is an active chapter of the
Computer Science Teachers Association in Connecticut and you are encouraged to visit their website
for a variety of useful information for implementation. Thank you for your time an if you have any
additional questions, please feel free to contact me directly by phone or email.

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