NC Computer Science Standards

The K–12 Computer Science Standards are derived from the original Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) national standards and have gone through the adoption process outlined in SBE Policy SCOS-012. 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 other stakeholders.

Tab/Accordion Items

The 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 North Carolina State University, and the Lt. Governor’s Office. Following the CS Steering Committee’s initial proposal, the CS Steering Committee worked to develop cross-sector representation and bring together voices from parents, teachers, schools and district administrators, business leaders, nonprofit and afterschool programs, and national experts on Computer Science (CS) Education guided by the State Board of Education Policy SCOS-012. The CS Steering Committee conducted a thirteen-month standards review process from 2019–2020 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 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 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Process-Driven: The system process includes three phases: review, revision, and implementation.

North Carolina currently has a wealth of CSITT education programs and activities for students occurring both in school and in our communities. Some schools offer different types of CSITT classes and after school programs, while businesses, non-profits, museums, colleges, and science centers offer Computer Science 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 28,000 open jobs in NC that require computing skills and less than 2,000 students graduating with CSITT degrees.

North Carolina is uniquely positioned today to leverage the collective interest and numerous CSITT 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 Computer Science 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. 

The NC K–12 Computer Science 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 Computer Science (ICS) and Computer Science Discipline-Specific Courses (HS). This organizational approach ensures broad exposure to CSITT 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 CSITT courses at different grade levels and for schools and districts to provide courses in multiple CSITT pathways of study, thereby allowing for multiple options for students if they choose to engage more deeply in CSITT in high school. 

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

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

Computational Artifact: Anything created with a computing device by the act or process of computational thinking, including inventions, creations, final products, and development byproducts.