Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education

Computer Science Still Missing from Proposed New Standards

ACT NOW!  Comments on the Second Draft of the Next Generation Science Standards are due January 29!   Contact me for a draft letter you can personalize and instructions for submissions! 

In Massachusetts, “computer systems design and related services” is the 5th largest growing industry with 37% growth projected and a total of 17,600 new jobs being created in this field during from 2006 to 2016.  Network systems and communication is the fastest growing occupation, with 50% growth, and computer software engineer is the third fastest at 35%.  Massachusetts schools, however, are not preparing students to take advantage of these opportunities, leaving a growing skills gap between the jobs going unfilled and the competencies applicants possess.

Computer Science Education

Computer Science courses are electives in Massachusetts schools so most students are never exposed to this field.  Where these classes are offered, the curriculum generally does not cover computational thinking or teach students to build the technology in a way that exposes them to or prepares them for the opportunities available in this profession.  Similarly, career technical education trains students for company-specific certifications and does not provide the solid math and science foundation needed for high level computing jobs.  In addition, because computer science is an elective, it is not available to all students across the state and courses do not have to meet consistently high statewide standards.  Too few students are choosing to study computer science in college or pursue it as a profession as a result.

Only nine states currently incorporate computer science into their required math or science courses to earn a high school diploma.  Massachusetts is in the process of implementing the Massachusetts Core Standards in mathematics and will not be reviewing or revising these standards in the foreseeable future.  But the state does have the opportunity to incorporate computer science in to its science, technology and engineering (STE) standards as a core course.  The development of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for grades K-12 offers Massachusetts a chance to influence what states will be adopting nationally and what will greatly influence the next version of Massachusetts STE curriculum frameworks.

Opportunity to Make Computer Science a Core Course

The Massachusetts business community has considered this issue through groups such as TechHub, Broadening Advanced Technical Education Connections (BATEC), and the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.  Curriculum and instructional materials have already been developed by respected local and national organizations.

MBAE, with its long record of advocating for rigorous statewide academic standards, is encouraging all employers to submit comments urging Massachusetts to use its leadership and influence to make computer science a core course as part of the development of the NGSS standards and any new STE standards in Massachusetts.  We believe this addresses a priority of many industries in the state that rely on this type of knowledge for their growth and success.  Establishing such a course requirement is also consistent with the college and career readiness goals of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as well as the commitment of the Department of Higher Education to align its training and degree programs with Massachusetts economic development goals and needs.   Providing the opportunity for students to learn about and develop skills in this area where employment growth and demand exists makes sense for our citizens and communities.

ACT NOW!  Comments on the Second Draft of the Next Generation Science Standards are due January 29!   Contact me for a draft letter you can personalize and instructions for submissions!

 

Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education