Computer Science and Technology Education

NC Computer Science Standards

Public Review of Proposed (Draft 1) Standards

The proposed NC K-12 Computer Science Standards were developed by the CS Steering Committee (as part of the State Board of Education’s Special Committee on Digital Learning and Computer Science) in collaboration with the Department of Public Instruction, the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State’s College of Education, and the Lt. Governor’s Office. Following the CS Steering Committee’s initial proposal, the NC CS Initiative worked to develop cross-sector representation and bring together voices from parents, teachers, schools and district administrators, business leaders, non-profit and afterschool programs, and national experts on computer science (CS) education guided by the NC State Board of Education policy SCOS-012. The NCDPI Computer Science Department conducted a thirteen-month standards review process from January 2019 - February 2020 that included over 1,000 person-hours of research, iteration, and vetting to review the widely-accepted Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) K-12 Standards to best fit the needs of students, teachers, schools, and districts in North Carolina.

The CS Steering Committee was guided by the report to the North Carolina General Assembly: Expand Computer Science to All Students in North Carolina K-12 Schools (2018). The report clearly outlines goals for CS in K-12 Education stating:

The overall goal is to provide opportunities for all North Carolina students to learn computer science and gain the skills needed to: (1) create and contribute, not just use and consume, in the digital economy; and (2) actively engage as informed citizens in our complex, technology-driven world. Through collaboration and communication with multiple stakeholders, a coordinated statewide computer science initiative will strengthen pathways from kindergarten to career, address equity gaps, leverage successful programs, and encourage cross-sector partnerships throughout the state.

The first recommendation of this report is “Rigorous computer science content standards for K-12 students.” 

NC Computer Science Proposed Standards, derived originally from the CSTA standards, center around these five core concepts:
1.    Computing Systems
2.    Networks and the Internet
3.    Data and Analysis
4.    Algorithms and Programming
5.    Impacts of Computing

The North Carolina Computer Science Standard Course of Study shall include standard for Computer Science. Per SBE Policy SCOS-012, the NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) will review the standard for each content area. To promote transparency and stakeholder engagement in the review, revision, and implementation of any content area, NCDPI will use a uniform and formalized system built on four guiding principles to guide the standards:

A.    Feedback-Based: NCDPI will formally collect feedback on the current standards from educators, administrators, students, institutions for higher education, business/industry representatives, national organizations, and other education agencies.
B.    Research-Informed: NCDPI will review contemporary and current research on standards and learning in the content area under review. Benchmarking with other states, third-party reviews, and comparability of national and international standards and trends will inform the process.
C.    Improvement-Oriented: NCDPI will provide the State Superintendent and State Board of Education an annual report summarizing feedback received from stakeholders concerning standards and implementation.
D.    Process-Driven: The system process includes three phases: review, revision, and implementation.

Rationale

North Carolina currently has a wealth of CS education programs and activities for students occurring both in school and in our communities. Some schools offer different types of CS classes and after school programs, while businesses, non-profits, museums, colleges, and science centers offer CS workshops and events for students, teachers and families. There is significant interest from both parents and student as well.  A survey of parents shows that 93% of parents in NC want schools to teach computer science so our children grow up not just using technology but learning how to innovate with it.  In high school, students rank computer science among their favorite subjects, behind only graphic design and performing arts.  Meanwhile, there are over 18,000 open jobs in NC that require computing skills and less than 2,000 students graduating with CS degrees. 

North Carolina is uniquely positioned today to leverage the collective interest and numerous CS activities toward a more intentional, strategic, and coordinated effort that will move computing education forward and broaden access, opportunity and participation for all students. NC K-12 CS Standards provide a core structure for students, parents, teachers, schools, and districts to navigate the path from elementary to middle and high school, and prepare students for their future in colleges, universities and numerous computing careers throughout our state.  

Organization of Standards 

The NC K-12 CS Standards are organized by grade band in K-8, and by course in high school.  Grade bands include K-2, 3-5, and 6-8, while High School courses include Introduction to CS (ICS) and CS Discipline-Specific Courses (HS).  This organizational approach ensures broad exposure to CS for all students in K-8 when students build the foundation for their future and make decisions about academic and career trajectories.   At the high school level, the organizational approach provides flexibility for students to take CS courses at different grade levels and for schools and districts to provide courses in multiple CS disciplines (such as cybersecurity, programming, robotics, and artificial intelligence), thereby allowing for multiple options for students if they choose to engage more deeply in CS in high school. 

Definitions

For the purpose of the NC K-12 Computer Science Standards, three definitions are provided to clarify meaning of the individual standards. Computer Science:  The study of algorithmic processes and computing systems, their principles, their hardware and software designs, their applications, and their impact on society (adapted from K12cs.org) Computational Thinking: The thought processes involved in expressing a problem and a solution in ways a machine (either human or computer) can understand and implement. (adapted from k12cs.org) Computational Artifact: Anything created with a computing device by the act or process of computational thinking, including inventions, creations, final products, and development byproducts.
 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Introduction

Introduction

This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document has been created to provide information about the proposed NC Computer Science Standards. Per SBE policy SCOS-012, the revision process is feedback-based, research informed, improvement oriented, and process driven. All decisions informing the standards are made in alignment with the policy and informed by stakeholders and research. NC Stakeholders are critical and integral to the draft, review and revision process. The NCDPI computer science & technology education team has provided input to the standards, formally and informally, since the onset of this initiative, which started in January 2019. Teams of writers and reviewers have been working with the draft standards, processing feedback from stakeholders, researching other states’ efforts and collaborating with professional organizations to analyze educational trends. This FAQ will be updated on a regular basis throughout the revision process.

Legislative Requirements

The Report to the North Carolina General Assembly: Expand Computer Science to All Students in North Carolina K-12 Schools (2018) clearly outlines goals for CS in K-12 Education stating:
The overall goal is to provide opportunities for all North Carolina students to learn computer science and gain the skills needed to: (1) create and contribute, not just use and consume, in the digital economy; and (2) actively engage as informed citizens in our complex, technology-driven world. Through collaboration and communication with multiple stakeholders, a coordinated statewide computer science initiative will strengthen pathways from kindergarten to career, address equity gaps, leverage successful programs, and encourage cross-sector partnerships throughout the state.

Helpful Information

The K-12 Computer Science Standards are derived from the original CSTA national standards & have gone through the SCOS process as outlined in SBE Policy SCOS 0-12. The goal of conceptually written standards is to help students to recognize patterns and make connections in their learning that transfer beyond a single grade, discipline, topic, or isolated fact. The standards are written and organized using Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy (RBT), which is a framework to align curriculum, instruction, and assessment to the Standards by classifying the clarifying objectives by cognitive process and knowledge type. The taxonomy uses cognitive processes leading to specific learning outcomes, using clear language that can be understood by multiple audiences, such as parents, teachers, students, legislators, business members, and others. All new North Carolina-developed content standards will be developed using the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy (RBT) as the framework.
 

 

Where does STEM fit in as it relates to Computer Science?

Where does STEM fit in as it relates to Computer Science?

STEM is the infusion of two or more of the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM empowers students to understand complex problems and prepares our next generation of innovators. The purpose of STEM Education and Leadership is to support K-12 educators and leaders with integrated approaches to STEM teaching and learning. It connects educational stakeholders including local education agencies (LEAs), post-secondary education, policymakers, business/industry, and other state agencies to current STEM initiatives. 
Computer Science is defined as an academic field of study that covers hardware, software, algorithms, & their applications & impacts on society. It is undergirded by the development of computational thinking, which is a set of overlapping problem-solving skills, which can be used in a variety of different settings.

How will Computer Science look in grades K-8 in North Carolina?

How will Computer Science look in grades K-8 in North Carolina?

Computer Science in grades K-8 in North Carolina will be integrated into the core academic areas (English Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, & Science) in order to support students & teacher leaders in the teaching & learning of this academic content area. Supporting documents that will be released along with the NC Computer Science standards will include a glossary, clarifying documents for each of the CS standards, as well as an integrated crosswalk of the CS standards into each of the core content areas with suggested lesson plans that match the NC SCOS. 

Where is Computer Science "housed?" (i.e. C&I, CTE, etc.)

Where is Computer Science "housed?" (i.e. C&I, CTE, etc.)

The NC Computer Science Department is a standalone academic department that provides leadership, support, & guidance for the CS Standard Course of Study, its implementation & accountability throughout grades K-12. Added to the NCSCOS in June 2019 through a unanimous vote by the NC State Board of Education, Computer Science is the latest academic content added to the list of 12 pre-existing areas. 

Will we continue to have standalone Computer Science courses in middle and high school?

Will we continue to have standalone Computer Science courses in middle and high school?

Standalone CS courses in middle & high school will continue, and as standards are adopted, adapted, implemented, and installed we hope to develop more opportunities to create & glean courses that will support particularly middle and high schools in their quest to impact students grades 6-12 with the necessary skills, tools, & resources to choose Computer Science pathways. 

What is the difference between Computer Science and Digital Teaching & Learning?

What is the difference between Computer Science and Digital Teaching & Learning?

As it relates to the K-12 Computer Science Initiative for NC is guided by the Report to EXPAND COMPUTER SCIENCE OPPORTUNITIES TO ALL STUDENTS IN NORTH CAROLINA K-12 SCHOOLS. The overall goal is to provide opportunities for all North Carolina students to learn computer science and gain the skills needed to: (1) create and contribute, not just use and consume, in the digital economy; and (2) actively engage as informed citizens in our complex, technology-driven world.  Through collaboration and communication with multiple stakeholders, a coordinated statewide computer science initiative will strengthen pathways from kindergarten to career, address equity gaps, leverage successful programs, and encourage cross-sector partnerships throughout the state. 

This Framework summarizes the importance of computer science for all students, provides high-level guidance on the foundational concepts and practices appropriate for K-12 students, including computational thinking (formulating problems and developing solutions with sufficient specificity that they can be carried out by computers), coding (translating the steps of solving problems into a language computers can understand), computer systems (e.g., how the Internet works), and the societal implications of advances in digital technologies (e.g., privacy, security, and social and economic impacts).  The recommendations also consider the Code.org Nine Policy Ideas to Make Computer Science Fundamental in K-12 Education and are designed to move North Carolina forward in implementing each of those ideas to become a leading state in computer science education.  
 
In this report, computer science education is viewed as part of the North Carolina digital-age learning model as described in NC K-12 Digital Learning Plan, and as such should incorporate the approach that includes: personalized learning and flexible resources; advancement based on content mastery and competency; anywhere, anytime learning; student-centered learning with teachers as instructional leaders; digital content; assessments built-in to activities; and project based learning. The following recommendations also build upon the foundation provided by the ongoing implementation of the NC Digital Learning Plan, which involves preparing district leaders, school leaders, and classroom teachers to implement digital-age teaching and learning, and providing the technology infrastructure necessary to support computer science education in K-12 schools.