As educators, we agree that STEM education matters. The focus on science, technology, engineering, and math not only prepares young people for the jobs of tomorrow, but also builds the vital skills of design, logical thinking, problem solving, and trouble shooting. We recognize the need for students to develop computer literacy but more than just being confident users of technology, we want to encourage a culture of innovation. This has in turn generated a specific interest in computer science and programming as an essential component of the technology curriculum.
Schools have recognized the need for students in all grades to develop a foundation in programming. The appearance of robotics in classrooms, coding clubs, and graphical, block-based programming languages such as Scratch, ScratchJr, and Blockly allow even primary students to develop an interest in being builders and creators of technology.
So now we’re committed to the value of computer science in our classrooms. But what exactly are the fundamental and critical skills that we should be teaching? A set of core guidelines can help teachers to develop computer science curriculum that introduces the fundamental concepts, engages students to develop an interest in coding, and fosters computational thinking, creativity, perseverance, collaboration, and all the other valuable skills that programming provides. Some schools, school boards, and states have written their own standards but if teachers don’t have a required set of learning standards, there are many resources available.
Computer Science Standards
Here’s a list of sites with computer science standards. Is there one that works for you? Or, combine ideas and create your own.
Computer Science Teachers Association
- clear, user-friendly set of learning standards
- 3 levels: k-6, 6-9, 9-12
- Strands: Computational Thinking, Collaboration, Computing Practice and Programming, Computer and Communications Devices, Community, Global, and Ethical Impacts
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
- includes all areas of technology
- recently edited to include Innovative Designer and Computational Thinker as two of seven strands, reflecting the significance of process, logical thinking, and breaking a problem into a sequence of steps
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)
- divided into elementary K-2 and 3-5, middle 6, 7, 8, and high school levels
- programming and designing solutions first mentioned in K-2
- high school includes specific standards for Computer Science, Game Programming and Design, Robotics Programming and Design, and many more
Next Generation Science Standards
- search and download by level or topic
- science-based, but includes Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science citing the importance of computational thinking, breaking down problems into smaller parts, and real-world applications
- international; referenced by robotics kits manufacturers such as Lego (Click on Educational Standards to see Common Core and NGSS correlation in this sample) and VEX IQ (VEX IQ Curriculum Education Standards lists learning objectives for its online units)
Prince Edward Island Career and Technical Education: Robotics
- specific to robotics in Grades 10-12
- samples of rubrics, rating scales, reflection logbooks, and learning journals
Of course there are many more computer science standards documents online. If you have one to add to the list, please let me know!
Scratch Learning Objectives
If Scratch is part of your curriculum, you may want to refer to the Scratch Skill Summary from TechnoCode. This assessment tool includes a checklist of learning objectives. They are categorized by the headings: applied technology, computer science, Scratch coding, graphic design, and digital citizenship. The document might spark some ideas for developing your own computer science standards.