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Computer science has become a new basic skill in today’s economy and Iowa wants to ensure all of our K-12 students are offered high-quality computer science education that prepares them for personal and professional success in a digital world.
Iowa’s journey began in 2017 when former Gov. Terry Branstad signed Senate File 274 into law. This bill set the goal that high schools, middle schools and elementary schools would offer high-quality computer science instruction by July 1, 2019. The bill also called for establishing state computer science standards, endorsements for computer science instruction and created a computer science professional development incentive fund.
House File 2629, signed into law in 2020 by Gov. Kim Reynolds, built on Senate File 274 by requiring, for the first time, that K-12 schools provide computer science instruction. High schools must offer at least one high-quality one-semester course starting July 1, 2022. Middle schools must provide high-quality computer science in seventh or eighth grade by July 1, 2023. Elementary schools must provide high-quality computer science in at least one grade level by July 1, 2023. Schools and the state also must develop K-12 computer science plans by July 1, 2022. In addition, the bill required the Department of Education to convene a Computer Science Work Group to make recommendations to the General Assembly by July 1, 2021, on how to strengthen computer science instruction and promote computer science to students and parents.
School districts are encouraged to allow computer science courses that meet state computer science standards and include math content to count as math credits for students who have completed other courses covering the required state math standards. In addition, a computer science course may fulfill a math requirement for graduation if the course meets state academic standards in math (for example, an integrated Algebra II/Computer Science course). Source: Iowa Computer Science Education Work Group Report, endorsed by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Computer Science is understanding how and why technologies work, exploring whether and how technology could solve real-life problems, investigating procedures, creating solutions, and learning about computing systems, programming, data, networks, and the effects on society and the individual. Computer Science is learning how to create new technologies, rather than simply using them.
All Iowa students will engage in the concepts and practices of computer science through an intentional progression of experiences in order to prepare them to become enterprising citizens that positively impact society.
Iowa’s computer science standards are the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards, which were developed by the Computer Science Teachers Association.
The standards were approved and adopted by the Iowa State Board of Education in June 2018, based on an Iowa team’s recommendation. The standards can be viewed and filtered from the CSTA Standards webpage.
Iowa Computer Science Standards - A complete set of standards and a progression chart.
The need for computer science in careers is clear. A report from Burning Glass, a job markets analytics firm, found there were as many as 7 million job openings in 2015 in occupations that require coding skills. The report found that half of the programming openings came from industries outside of technology. The Burning Glass report indicates that there are an increasing number of businesses that rely on computer code. “A software engineer could find themselves working at [a tech company], as they could in a hospital or at an automotive manufacturer.”
Iowa industries have a need for their workforce in computer science related occupations. From Iowa’s Future Ready Iowa Metrics That Matter, two of the high demand jobs are Information security analysts and computer systems analysts.
The Iowa Department of Education has established the Computer Science Work Group as required by House File 2629, the most recent Future Ready Iowa bill which Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law in June 2020. The work group has two charges: (1) Develop recommendations to strengthen computer science instruction, and (2) design a campaign promoting computer science to students and parents. Recommendations are due to the General Assembly by July 1, 2021.
The Iowa Department of Education also established two previous work groups in response to Senate File 274.
- The Computer Science Education Work Group - Addressed critical issues in expanding computer science opportunities for students statewide.
- The Computer Science Standards Review Team - Reviewed and recommended statewide standards for computer science education.
Guidance for Implementing the Computer Science Standards - A document to aid Iowa's school districts in interpreting and implementing Iowa's Computer Science Standards.
Guidance for House File 2629 - Computer Science Instruction and Requirements - A document to aid school districts and nonpublic schools in understanding what is required, optional, and permitted related to computer science instruction.
Laws, Rules and Policy
Computer Science Professional Development Incentive Fund - Helps schools pay for professional learning or university coursework for teaching endorsements in computer science. The professional development incentive fund is available to school districts through a competitive application process.
Computer Science Curriculum and Professional Development Grants - Helps school districts and accredited nonpublic schools with the cost of providing high-quality computer science curriculum for students and aligned professional development for teachers.
SCRIPT Workshop Grants - Helps school districts and accredited nonpublic schools with the cost of attending SCRIPT Workshops where they will begin the development of their K-12 computer science plan.
Computer Science is Elementary
A collaborative project between the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and the Department of Education that will launch six innovative computer science elementary schools. The six high-poverty schools selected will transform existing buildings with engaging computer science instruction. This will create more opportunities for their students, including real-life work experiences with area employers. Learn more about this project on the Computer Science is Elementary webpage.
The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners offers a Computer Science endorsement. While not mandatory this endorsement can help ensure there are highly qualified teachers in computer science classrooms.
Statewide Computer Science Leadership Team
A team will convene to discuss standards implementation, identify and develop resources, build capacity, and develop professional learning. The team will be made up of Computer Science educators representing AEA consultants, K-12 teachers, teacher leaders, administrators, college and university specialists in Computer Science teacher preparation and the private sector.
These resources should not be considered recommendations. They are made available only to support the learning of schools, districts, and AEAs.
- K12 Computer Science Framework
- CSTA - CS Teachers Association
- CSTA Iowa
- ISTE Standards for Computer Science Educators
- National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT)
- Computer Science Unplugged
- Google’s Exploring Computational Thinking
- ISTE Computational Thinking For All
- ISTE Computational Thinking Competencies
- Iowa Board of Educational Examiners Computer Science Endorsement
- UNI Computer Science Teacher Pathway
- Northwestern College Computer Science Endorsement