“Nearly two decades into the 21st century, Jefferson County Schools does not have a bona fide computer science curriculum. That needs to change,” said Jefferson County Board of Education candidate Jim Watkins.
Watkins said computer science has moved from an outlier to a fundamental skill in the 21st century.
“College and career readiness demands it,” said Watkins. “There isn’t a job or educational pathway that doesn’t require knowledge and skills in computer science. Whether a student is on track to go to college or in a career technical vocational program, computer science should be a component of the curriculum.”
Watkins said there are individual teachers in Jefferson County Schools that have been doing wonderful things to promote computer science skills in their classrooms, but “what has been sorely missing for some time is meaningful leadership, direction, and support for computer science teaching and learning from the Board of Education.”
He said there is already a blueprint for implementing a computer science curriculum outlined in West Virginia Board of Education policy that defines content standards for Technology and Computer Science for all grade levels and includes specific computer science courses that should be offered.
“At the middle school level, there is a course recommended for students to explore the many facets of computer science,” said Watkins. “At the high school level, there is a course designed for grades 9 – 12 that includes essential skills that all high school students should have upon graduation, along with additional upper level elective computer science courses for credit in math and science.”
Overview of WVDE Policy 2520.14 – Technology and Computer Science Content Standards
WVDE College- and Career-Readiness Standards for Technology and Computer Science (Overview)
Kindergarten – Grade 2 Standards
In these earliest grades students are exposed to basic technology through creative activities that will enhance their learning skills. Young children learn best through interactions with their caregivers, teachers and other children. While it is important to begin their exposure to the variety of media that surround them, it is essential that this exposure be carefully guided to support children’s imagination, creativity, and thinking skills. These standards encourage the use of technology as a support to the varied types of learning the students experience in other areas.
Grades Three – Five Standards
In the later elementary grades students spend more time interacting with technology. As they develop their critical thinking skills across the curriculum they begin to use those technologies that support their learning. Students enhance their communication and research skills via the Internet and become familiar with programs that allow them to create original works as well as to record, analyze and graph various kinds of data. Students deepen their understanding of safe technology use and the importance of maintaining privacy—both their own and others’.
Grades Six – Eight Standards
Middle school students increase their technological literacy through exposure to real-worlds issue and problems. They become increasingly aware of the variety of technologies and programs available, understand their varied uses across content areas, and learn which technologies as most useful in given situations. Students use technology to enhance their creativity, strengthen their ability to communicate and collaborate, and expand their critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a wide variety of situations. They continue to deepen their understanding of digital citizenship including privacy and security issues, copyright laws and cyberbullying.
Grades Nine – Twelve Standards
High school students perfect their understanding of the myriad ways technology is used to share information, communicate, collaborate and create. They use technology to solve higher-order real-world problems, apply it to complex tasks, develop their own technology and explore career options that are technology-based. Students explore the benefits and limitations of social media, discuss the ramifications of the improper use of technology and media, and grasp the importance of checking facts, distinguishing points of view, confirming the reliability of sources, and verifying information obtained via electronic and social media.
Specific Computer Science Courses
Middle School: Discovering Computer Science
Discovering Computer Science is designed for students in grades 6-8 and will provide them with opportunities to explore the many facets of Computer Science. This may be taught in a single class in one grade level or divided into sections and taught over a three-year period.
High School: Computer Science in the Modern World
Computer Science in the Modern World is a course designed for all students in grades 9-12 and includes the essential skills that all high school students should have upon graduation.
High School: Computer Science & Mathematics
Computer Science & Mathematics may be counted as a fourth math elective credit course and must be taught by a certified 9-12 math teacher.
High School: Computer Science – Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Computer Science – Introduction to Geographic Information Systems may be counted as a third science elective credit course and must be taught by a certified 9-12 science teacher.