Archive for July 25, 2011

NRC K-12 Science Framework ducks the question of computer science

The new K-12 Science Framework report from the National Research Council does mention CS, but doesn’t include it as part of the core framework.  Instead, they say the below:

Computer science and statistics are other areas of science that are not addressed here, even though they have a valid presence in K-12 education. Statistics is basically a subdiscipline of mathematical sciences, and it is addressed to some extent in the common core mathematics standards. Computer science, too, can be seen as a branch of the mathematical sciences, as well as having some elements of engineering. But, again, because this area of the curriculum has a history and a teaching corps that are generally distinct from those of the sciences, the committee has not taken this domain as part of our charge. Once again, this omission should not be interpreted to mean that computer science or statistics should be excluded from the K-12 curriculum. There are aspects of computational and statistical thinking that must be understood and applied in learning about the sciences, and we identify these aspects, along with mathematical thinking, in our discussion of science practices in Chapter 3.

This is a strange argument.  They are saying that, because CS teachers are a different set of teachers from science teachers, CS doesn’t belong in a science curricular framework.  This isn’t an argument what should be.  Explicitly, they are saying that this is the historical precedent, and they’re okay with it.

The NRC report does talk about “computational thinking” for K-9, but all the high school requirements talk about using computers, especially simulations.  In reality, there’s no real computer science in the framework.  ACM is complaining through the Education Policy Committee.  Their point is well-taken — the NRC framework is pretty significantly different from the recent PCAST report on the role of computer science in K-12 STEM education.

Although the National Research Council’s newly released Framework for K-12 Science Education provides a helpful next step in revising the existing scientific ideas and practices for all U.S. students to know by the end of high school, ACM is concerned that computing and computer science are not yet  included as a core part of the framework for mathematics and science K-12 education despite substantial input from the computing community.

“Computing is by far where the greatest demand for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs is in today’s economy,” said Bobby Schnabel, Chair of  ACM’s Education Policy Committee http://www.acm.org/public-policy/education-policy-committee .  ”But the major efforts by the Governors and the Academy to define what students should know for the 21st Century make little mention of the need for computer science in the core curriculum. This is a missed opportunity to expose students to a fundamental discipline that they will need for their careers as well as their lives.”

via ACM Urges Inclusion of Computer Science in K12 Core Curriculum — Association for Computing Machinery.

July 25, 2011 at 11:24 am 5 comments


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