Georgia proposes reducing CS in high school curriculum

February 28, 2013 at 1:16 am 2 comments

Georgia’s Department of Education is revising their curricula for computer science.  You can see the existing pathway definition for “Computing” (here), and the definition of the existing first course “Computing in the Modern World” (CiMW).  CiMW is based on the CSTA Standards, and includes computing topics like data representation, Moore’s Law, algorithmic thinking, and problem solving.

The proposed new first course is linked here, as part of the now-called “Information Technology” Pathway.  It’s called “Introduction to Digital Technology.”  It does include computational thinking, but removes most of the computer science pieces.

Why are they doing this?  We are not sure — Universities have not been involved in the revision, only high school teachers and industry folks.  One theory is that the Department of Education wants to better align high school courses with jobs, so that high school students can graduate and go into the IT industry (perhaps same goal in NYC?).

I suspect that another reason for the change is the challenge of teaching teachers about CiMW topics. Teachers can’t teach everything in CiMW because (I suspect) many of them teaching the course don’t all know the content yet. Some of the high school teachers involved in the redesign told us that they were asked to use fewer computing buzzwords, because the teachers don’t know all those terms.  The teachers in this pathway are Business teachers, often with little STEM background.  Professional development budgets in Georgia have been slashed since 2007 when the Computing Pathways was launched.  It’s disappointing (if I’m right) that the decision is to reduce the scope of the curriculum, instead of helping the teachers to learn.

The new course is open for public comment (here).  If you are interested, please consider leaving your comments on the changes in the questionnaire.

Overall, this feels like the last time that Georgia un-decided to let AP CS count towards high school graduation. Two steps forward, one step back. “Constant vigilance!”

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. rademi  |  February 28, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Hypothetically speaking, it’s all about priorities – of course, if there are higher educational priorities than “algorithmic thinking”, they should be addressed first. Also, is “algorithmic thinking” anything more than an awareness of cause and effect, as informed by one’s exposure to computing mechanisms? If so, this is probably asking for expertise rather than education.

    Or, for another case, “Moore’s law” is an estimation about economics and there have been some decisions on the parts of the people responsible for the underlying implementation that have been “defeating” that law.

    But those are just weaknesses in the topics, and I do not see that (for example) Computing in the Modern World has been supplied with any suitable replacements for these topics. And, the really hard problems for a computer professional (such as “requirements gathering”) needs an understanding of the technology and its practices before the person can participate meaningfully in the conversations.

    Anyways, from the descriptions you linked to it’s hard to imagine what is being taught here.

    Reply
  • 2. Bri Morrison  |  March 2, 2013 at 10:17 am

    As I read the new course standards, it appears to be all about giving students the communication skills for industry more than any industry usable skills in computing. I know there have been complaints within the state (from industry folks) saying young high school students don’t have the “critical thinking” and communication (both oral and written) skills to be valued employees. I suspect this is what is (at least partially) driving the curriculum reform.
    I am saddened to see the weakening of the standards, moving away from the recommended CSTA model to a homegrown variety. Basically it says to students that computer science knowledge and skills aren’t valuable enough to be worthy of their time.

    Reply

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