As interest and growth in K-12 computer science education spreads, states and school districts are asking a common question: What do students need to know and be able to do in K-12 computer science? The ACM, CSTACode.org, CIC, and NMSI have joined forces with more than 100 advisors within the computing community (higher ed faculty, researchers, K-12 teachers), several states and large school districts, technology companies, and other organizations to steer a process to develop conceptual guidelines for states and districts creating a K-12 pathway in computer science.

Code.org, ACM, and NMSI are providing funding for this effort. The framework is slated for release in October 2016.

The framework of computer science concepts and practices will empower students to…

  • be informed citizens who can critically engage in public discussion on CS-related topics
  • develop as learners, users, and creators of CS knowledge and artifacts
  • better understand the role of computing in the world around them
  • learn, perform, and express themselves in other subjects and interests

Lead states (MD, CA, IN, IA, AR, UT, ID, NE, GA, WA, NC, NJ), large school districts (NYC, Chicago, San Francisco), technology companies (Microsoft, Google, Apple), organizations (PLTW, ISTE, MassCAN, CSNYC), and individuals (higher ed faculty, researchers, K-12 teachers, and administrators). See who else is involved.

Intended outcome:
The goal is to generate a high level framework for computer science instruction. The framework would identify the core concepts and practices of K-12 computer science, and include statements that detail powerful ideas in computer science for students exiting grades 2, 5, 8, and 12. The framework will provide guidance to states or districts who want to design their own standards, curriculum, assessments, or teacher preparation programs. This effort is not about developing standards: we will leave it up to others (CSTA/states/districts) to do that. The CSTA and Code.org are collaborating to align the development of the framework and the current revision of the CSTA standards.

Defining a baseline literacy for all students:
Computer science is a literacy; a set of essential skills that are important for students’ learning in school as well as for their future careers and interests. Computer science as a literacy improves students’ ability (and ability to learn) in math, science, and the arts. The goal of this work is not to prepare students to major in computer science or secure jobs as software engineers (although these are likely outcomes), but instead about declaring a baseline level of computer science education that all students should have.

What are the principles guiding the project? (for more detail, see the FAQ)

  • Broadening participation in computer science.
    There is a need for more diversity in computer science. Issues of equity and accessibility are reflected in not only the content and structure of the framework, but also the writers (diverse backgrounds/experiences).
  • Less is more.
    The framework describes a baseline literacy rather than an exhaustive list of everything in computer science that can be learned within a K-12 pathway
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel.
    The Framework project is not a first step in defining computer science education as it takes decades of professional research and practice into account.
  • Research-backed and research-forward.
    The framework will reflect the latest research in CS education. Remaining questions will inform a follow-on research agenda that will guide future framework revisions.
  • Aligned to national structure and process norms.
    Developing a framework for computer science education involves both defining a subject new to most schools, computer science, and relying on established structures and processes in the development of other education guidelines.
  • A step towards something more.
    The work of implementing K-12 computer science begins with the release of a coherent framework, and it does not end there.