South Carolina high schools could require computer coding course for graduation

Want a high school diploma? You might need to learn a little bit of JavaScript. All South Carolina public schools could require computer-science training for graduation starting as soon as 2019. A bill advancing out of the state House of Representatives would create new standards for computer science education in grades 9-12, set up summer training for new teachers in the field and require that every high school in the state offer at least one computer science course. The state currently requires one credit of “computer science” for a high school diploma, but that credit can be for a keyboarding class — a far cry from the rigorous and standards-based courses that some state lawmakers say would give students a leg up as they enter an increasingly knowledge-based workforce. “At this rate, we’ll be ahead of the curve,” said Valerie Sessions, chair of the Computer Science Department at Charleston Southern University. She recently signed an open letter in support of the bill along with leaders from Boeing, Google and Bibliolabs. House Bill 3427, the SC Computer Science Education Initiative, passed in the House with a 106-1 vote Tuesday and advanced to the Senate. It includes $1.36 million in new expenditures over the next two years to develop grade-appropriate standards, hire a state computer science education coordinator, fund summer teacher training camps and provide other support. But the bill does not set aside recurring funds to support computer science education or provide school districts with more money to hire additional teachers. The hiring of computer science teachers could cost local school districts a combined $19.2 million in the 2019-20 school year alone, according to an estimate included with the bill. Quinn Burke, an assistant professor of education at the College of Charleston, helped write computer science standards for kindergarten through eighth grade. When it comes to the high school proposal, he’s concerned about the lack of recurring funds for teachers. “To be offering computer science education in South Carolina schools for 2019 but putting absolutely no money behind it — that’s a tremendous problem,” Burke said. “I have concerns that if it’s not properly funded and supported, by 2020 we’ll be scratching our heads saying, ‘This was a waste, it was ill-conceived.'” But if it works, Burke said, students will be prepared for all sorts of tech-centric careers. Some districts already teach block-based introductory coding languages in elementary school. By the time students leave high school, they could have the tools to learn new languages and thrive in whatever environment awaits them. The earlier the head start, the better. “Kids are a lot more willing to tinker at things for longer periods of time, whereas adults, their concentration level peters out,” Burke said. Read the original article here

Is Computer Science a foundational course for a Bachelor of Science degree?

It could be said that computer science isn’t just a skill for students who want to pursue careers in tech. It’s foundational. As Steve Jobs once said: “computer science is a liberal art.” We recently wondered: is there any data to support this idea? We believe computer science is a core 21st century skill — like reading, writing, or math — that provides a basis for learning other concepts. But how can we measure this? To answer this, we looked at graduation requirements for all Bachelor of Science degrees across the University of California’s nine campuses with undergraduate programs. These requirements ensure that students gain both breadth, building foundational knowledge and skills, and depth, developing specific familiarity within their field of study. So what did we find? Throughout the UC system, CS can satisfy a core graduation requirement in 95%* of B.S. degrees. For some of these degrees computer science units are required, but for many they are not; computer science is instead one of several options that students can take to fulfill more general graduation requirements. In other words, computer science is part of the UC system’s breadth — foundational knowledge that helps students think critically and learn — for degrees from Physics to Cognitive Science to Business Information Management! In some cases (such as UC Irvine), if there’s a requirement for all students to take a quantitative literacy course for graduation, computer science can satisfy this core requirement. According to the University of California graduation requirements, computer science is truly foundational. Computer science counts as a core requirement in 95% of BS degrees in the University of California system. Read the entire article here.

Another Programming Competetion

My Computer Science classes have competed in several coding competitions over the years. This is a post for my students to link to some current and past competitions: