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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 22, 2017

Group releases recommendations to bolster computer science education

By Molly Duffy, The Gazette | Nov 03, 2017

DES MOINES — A group tasked with identifying how Iowa could expand computer science opportunities in its public schools released its recommendations Wednesday.

The recommendations were written with “a vision that computer science will eventually become a high school requirement for all students,” according to the group’s report, and includes encouraging all school districts to allow some computer science courses to count toward high-schoolers’ math course requirements.

The group — which included teachers, school administrators, college professors and representatives of school boards, community colleges and technology companies — was established by Senate File 274. That legislation, signed by former Gov. Terry Branstad, encouraged every Iowa school to offer computer science by July 2019.

The legislation also established computer science standards and created a professional development incentive fund.

Incorporating computer science courses into core credit requirements, such as math, “will send the message that computer science is not just an elective anymore,” the group said in its report.

Additionally, the group called on school districts that receive money for computer science professional development to expand “the reach and rigor” of those classes by taking such actions as adding computer science as a graduation requirement.

In a news release, the Iowa Department of Education characterized the recommendations as “motivating,” not mandating, schools to expand computer science education.

Other recommendations in the report include:

— A call to the Iowa Department of Education and Board of Educational Examiners to improve communication with schools about incorporating computer science education into career and technical education programs.

— Online courses for professional development for teachers.

— A team assembled by the Iowa Department of Education to review computer science standards.

— A competitive application process for the computer science professional development fund.

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