Have We Reached a Consensus on a National CS Curriculum? I hope not

July 8, 2014 at 9:02 am 2 comments

Alfred Thompson raises an important question here.  I agree with him — we haven’t reached consensus.  We also will never have a national CS curriculum in the United States, because we have a distributed education model.  It’s a state decision.  I do fear that there may be a de facto standard now.

But the bigger concern is at a higher level of abstraction: How should we make curricular decisions in CS (or anywhere else)?  I hope that we make our decisions based on empirical evidence.  I don’t see that we have the empirical evidence that any of the below classes ought to be the dominant model.

Oh boy are things up in the air in the HS CS curriculum these days. While we have some great advice from the CSTA (CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards) the implementation of those standards are still left up to individual schools/districts/states. Still it is easy to come to the conclusion from watching social media and some conferences that there is a consensus on a high school Computer Science curriculum. Today I got the following from a friend.

Is it an incorrect read or has a national consensus for CS in HS’s been achieved with a sequence of :

–ECS (Exploring Computer Science) Curriculum

–CS Principles/BJC Curriculum (Beauty and Joy of Computing)

–AP CS (JAVA [for now])

via Computer Science Teacher: Have We Reached a Consensus on a National CS Curriculum?.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. alfredtwo  |  July 8, 2014 at 9:36 am

    One of the things I think we need is a wider conversation about what should be covered in K-12 computer science. The CSTA has a document now which is a good start but I’d personally like to see a deeper look. Having been through the process of looking at the undergraduate CS curriculum by being on the CS 2013 task force I like the rigorous approach that took.
    Honestly though the K-12 curriculum is in some ways harder because while one university controls what they teach for the whole undergraduate experience the K-12 experience is usually three to four different schools who often do not work together to coordinate. One would think that happens but even in a single school district I have seem much less communication and coordination between elementary, middle and high schools than would be assumed..

  • 2. Kathi Fisler  |  July 8, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Another way of phrasing Alfred’s comment: I don’t think we even agree on what *question* we would want empirical evidence about. Different curricula target different goals, with each goal implying different questions about what CS ed should be about in K-12. I’m almost more concerned that we are implicitly cutting off that discussion.

    My gut tells me that we are also nearing a default for early-grade CS (in Scratch).

    I’m just about to start on a statewide panel defining curricular standards for K-12 CS in Massachusetts. Am looking forward to hearing how the various constituents view the question of what the educational goals are (much less how we will know whether we are achieving them).



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