Statewide computer science expansion is moving forward
State Board of Education adopts new academic standards; new professional development funding available to schools
DES MOINES – State education leaders today announced two key developments in an effort to expand computer science education in Iowa schools: New voluntary computer science standards and the availability of $1 million in new funding to help prepare teachers.
The standards and funding were established as part of a 2017 bill that also encourages computer science in every Iowa school.
“Computer science is a new basic skill in our technology-driven economy, and this work is about helping Iowa schools build a strong foundation for all students so they are prepared to meet workforce demands,” Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise said. “This is an important part of the Future Ready Iowa initiative, which is about preparing Iowans to find rewarding, high-demand jobs and getting employers the skilled workers they need.”
Computer Science Standards
Members of the State Board of Education today adopted new statewide computer science standards that outline expectations for what students should know and be able to do in kindergarten through 12th grade. The board’s action was based on an Iowa team’s review and recommendation.
The board adopted the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards, which were developed by the Computer Science Teachers Association. The standards are optional for Iowa schools.
Members of the Computer Science Standards Review Team said they identified the CSTA standards because they include fundamental concepts of computer science for all students beginning in kindergarten, present options for high school computer science courses through mathematics, science or computer science graduation credits, and increase access of computer science to all students.
The team’s recommendation followed a period of public input, which included an online survey and public forums.
Professional Development Incentive Fund
Also on Friday, the Iowa Department of Education announced the availability of a $1 million professional development incentive fund, which is designed to build the computer science teacher workforce in schools statewide.
The funding will help schools pay for professional learning or university coursework for teaching endorsements in computer science.
The professional development incentive fund will be available to school districts through a competitive application process.
“This will allow Iowa schools to create innovative, diverse approaches to providing professional learning and expanding high-quality computer science instruction for students,” Wise said.
Iowa legislators set aside $500,000 for the incentive fund. The rest of the money will come from a 2007 settlement of an Iowa class-action anti-trust lawsuit filed against Microsoft Corp. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Iowans who had bought the company’s programs at allegedly inflated prices, and the settlement agreement included setting aside a portion of unclaimed money for technology in Iowa schools.