New Draft K-12 Model CS Curriculum Available for Comment

April 15, 2011 at 8:21 am 7 comments

The below announcement was posted by Dr. Chris Stephenson, Executive Director of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), on the SIGCSE-Members list.  This is really important — the whole Running on Empty report came from a comparison of state curricula to the current model curriculum.

I am glad that the draft is available for comment and encourage everyone to review it.  I’ve read through it once, and don’t quite understand it.  Why is it part of computational thinking that all high schools know how to convert between decimal, binary, octal, and hexadecimal (page 23 and 60)?  Is it really necessary for all students to learn how to program mobile devices and write client- and server-side scripts (page 23)?  I like the bullet about representation and trade-offs on digital information, but I would have liked some specifics on what students will learn, like the kinds of error that occur.  The current draft seems tied to current technology and not to big ideas or principles. (Are most K-12 standards like this?  The AAAS standards aren’t, but maybe they are the anomaly.)

I’m planning to re-read it, because I might not have got the big picture.  I strongly encourage all of you to read and comment on it.

Since it was first released in 2003, the ACM/CSTA Model Curriculum for K-12 Computer Science has served as the national standards for pre-college computer science education. This year, CSTA formed a committee of specialists (co-chaired by Allen Tucker and Deborah Seehorn) from all educational levels to review and revise these standards.

Based on the following definition of computer science:

Computer science is the study of computers and algorithmic processes, including their principles, their hardware and software designs, their applications, and their impact on society and includes the following elements:

 • programming,

• hardware design,

• networks,

• graphics, 

• databases and information retrieval,

• computer security,

• software design,

• programming languages,

• logic,

• programming paradigms,

• translation between levels of abstraction,

• artificial intelligence,

• the limits of computation (what computers can’t do),

• applications in information technology and information systems, and

• social issues (Internet security, privacy, intellectual property, etc.).

The K-12 Computer Science Standards provide learning outcomes for students in grade K through 12. These learning outcomes are divided into three levels:

· Level 1 (grades K–6) Computer Science and Me

· Level 2 (grades 6–9) Computer Science and Community

· Level 3 (grades 9–12) Applying concepts and creating real-world solutions

o Level 3A: (grades 9 or 10) Computer Science in the Modern World

o Level 3B: (grades 10 or 11) Computer Science Principles

o Level 3C: (grades 11 or 12) Topics in Computer Science

The learning outcomes within each level are organized into the following strands:

· Computational Thinking

· Collaboration

· Computing Practice

· Computers and Communications Devices

· Community, Global, and Ethical Impacts

CSTA invites you to review and submit comments on the review draft of the new CSTA K-12 Computer Science Learning Standards: Revised 2011. A copy of the document is available for download at:

This site also provides access to an online form that will be used to collect all reader comments and suggestions. The review process will be open until June 15, 2011.

Allen Tucker

Deborah Seehorn

Chairs, CSTA Standards Task Force

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , .

Motivating cognitive work with Pink’s Drive Show Me The Code

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alan Kay  |  April 15, 2011 at 9:17 am

    No mention of “systems” in their list of buzz words — which misses almost all of the point modern vs past computing …

    However, I haven’t read the rest, so perhaps their list is not as well thought out as their content ….



  • 2. Rob St. Amant  |  April 15, 2011 at 9:40 am

    From the report: Unlike many other disciplines, computer science is constantly being reshaped.

    I don’t know that I agree with this. That is, sure, computer science is being reshaped, but any more than other sciences, such as physics and biology? It’s the technological landscape that changes rapidly, but for K-12 education, I’d think that basic concepts and principles worth teaching at those levels have been around for decades at least; it’s just that they manifest themselves in different ways. I worry about ending up with students who are fluent with the technology but don’t really understand what’s underneath.

  • 3. Owen Astrachan  |  April 16, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    There’s good stuff in the standards. However, perhaps I’m too temperate (unusual for me), but a document with absolutes is easy to challenge, so I wonder about the absoluteness of these sentences from the document.

    Italics mine, sentences from the document.

    The vast majority of careers in the 21st century will require an understanding of computer science.

    Progress on understanding the genetics
    of disease or creating an AIDS vaccine requires professionals to think in terms of computer science—these
    problems are unsolvable without it.

    Computer science teaches students to think about the problem-solving process itself. In computer science, the first
    step in solving a problem is to state it clearly and unambiguously.

    The goal for teaching computer
    science should be to get as many students as possible enthusiastically engaged with every assignment.

  • 4. Owen Astrachan  |  April 16, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Interesting: from the NCTM (national council of teachers of mathematics) standards for grades 9-12:

    In high school, students should build on their prior knowledge, learning more-varied and more-sophisticated problem-solving techniques. They should increase their abilities to visualize, describe, and analyze situations in mathematical terms. They need to learn to use a wide range of explicitly and recursively defined functions to model the world around them. Moreover, their understanding of the properties of those functions will give them insights into the phenomena being modeled.

    • 5. Mark Guzdial  |  April 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm

      Thanks, Owen — that’s a really nice statement. We do need something similar for CS.

  • 6. Show Me The Code « Computing Education Blog  |  April 18, 2011 at 10:32 am

    […] to learning that we simply make too little use of in computer science. We emphasize so much that computer science is about “problem-solving” that we only make students solve problems, as opposed to reading solutions and learning to learn […]

  • 7. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  April 29, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    I did not like the standards. In fact, I disliked them so much that I could not bring myself to continue reading them.

    More detailed comments at


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