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Question of the Month ~ December 2018


Question. Do any Midwestern states require computer science classes for high school graduation?

by Jon Davis ~ December 2018 ~ Question of the Month »
According to the Education Commission of the States, the answer is no. But an ECS report compiled in January 2018 found that many Midwestern states allow computer science classes to be counted as a fulfillment of required math and science credits — for math in Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin; and for either math or science in Iowa, Michigan and Ohio.
Some U.S. states, including Indiana, also have begun to require that high schools make computer science classes available to their students.
Under Indiana’s SB 172, signed into law in 2018, coursework in this subject area must be offered in every public high school as a one-semester elective at least once a year, starting with the 2021-22 school year. The new state law also sets up a grant program for teacher training and requires schools at all grade levels to include computer science in their curriculum.
Iowa and Ohio are among the other states with significant new laws on computer science.
Iowa’s SF 274 of 2017 called for new standards that outline what students in every grade should know and be able to do in the area of computer science. Such standards were subsequently adopted in June by the state Board of Education. Under that same law, legislators directed the Iowa Department of Education to convene a working group to fulfill the goal that every school district offer, starting in the 2019-20 school year, a “high quality” computer science course in high school, an exploratory course in middle school and a basic course in elementary school. Lastly, the state has established a $1 million professional development fund. The money goes to local schools, which, in turn, use the state dollars to help staff pursue computer science-related endorsements or other learning opportunities.
Ohio’s HB 170, signed into law in late 2017, calls for the state Board of Education to adopt statewide academic standards for computer science and a model curriculum. It also allows high school students to take computer science as an alternative to Algebra II or an advanced unit of science, excluding biology or life sciences. (Ohio students who opt for computer science instead of Algebra II must be told that some colleges nonetheless may require Algebra II, so the substitution might hurt their admission chances.)
The 2018 “State of Computer Science Education: Policy and Implementation” (a report done by the Code.org Advocacy Coalition and Computer Science Teachers Association) identifies several policy strategies for state legislatures to consider. They include establishing rigorous course standards, providing clear certification pathways for computer science teachers, and making this subject area a part of universities’ teacher-preparatory programs.


Question of the Month highlights an inquiry sent to the CSG Midwest Information Help Line.