Table of Contents
What is the vision of the framework?
What is the framework?
What are the core concepts and practices of the framework?
Who is creating the framework?
What is a sample statement in the framework?
What is the relationship between the framework and standards?
How is the framework different than national standards?
What is the relationship with the CSTA K-12 Standards?
What is the timeline?
How can I get involved?
What happened at past meetings?
What are the principles guiding the project?
What does the K-12 CS framework’s steering committee do?
How does the CS framework fit with computer literacy and digital citizenship?
How is the framework implemented in schools?

What is the vision of the framework?

The purpose is to create a high-level framework of computer science concepts and practices that 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

What is the framework?

The focus of the framework is to illuminate powerful ideas in K-12 computer science. These powerful ideas are separated into Concepts and Practices. Each of the core concepts are delineated with statements of learning at 4 different grade band endpoints: Grades 2, 5, 8, 12. Note that the practices will not be delineated by grade bands, but will instead provide a narrative describing each practice’s progression from K to 12.

What are the core concepts and practices of the framework?

As the purpose of this entire project is to define the core concepts and practices in K-12 computer science, and the project is ongoing, the lists below are a draft and will be revised.

Here are the 5 core concepts:

  1. Computing Systems
  2. Networks and the Internet
  3. Data and Analysis
  4. Algorithms and Programming
  5. Impacts of Computing

Here are the 7 practices:

  1. Fostering an Inclusive and Diverse Computing Culture
  2. Collaborating
  3. Recognizing and Defining Computational Problems
  4. Developing and Using Abstractions
  5. Creating Computational Artifacts
  6. Testing and Refining
  7. Communicating

Who is creating the framework?

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), Code.org, the Cyber Innovation Center (CIC), and the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) are steering the development of the framework. The writing team is composed of representatives from 12 lead states, 4 school districts, K-12, higher ed faculty, research, and non-profit organizations. Over 100 computer science education practitioners and stakeholder organizations have committed to serving as reviewers. See the complete meeting notes and sign up for updates and to be informed about review opportunities.

What is a sample statement in the framework?

These examples are currently for illustrative purposes and will be revised over the duration of the project.

Example concept (Data and Analysis, grades 9-12): Transforming data can influence the people who view the data. Data can be transformed in many ways, including applying mathematical operations, aggregation, rearrangement, and visualization.

Comments: This concept statement, though short, is powerful in multiple ways:

  1. It is powerful in its usefulness. Being able to influence other’s ideas through data transformation or visualizations is impactful!
  2. It is powerful in its connections to other contexts. The contexts do not need to be listed explicitly, but because the statement extends to any idea people have, you can imagine broad application.
  3. And lastly, it is powerful because it is personal. Students in high school often want to influence their social groups and are thinking about their place in society. Accompanied by powerful pedagogy to make it more personal, one could increase the potential for a student to own this concept

Example practice (Collaborating, by the end of Grade 12, a selection from the overview): ….Collaboration skills require individuals to navigate and leverage diverse perspectives, conflicting ideas, competing interests, disparate skills, and distinct personalities within the context of team norms, expectations, and equitable workloads….

Comments: This component of the practice overview is powerful in multiple ways:

  1. It is powerful in its usefulness – to revise and improve a process or product. By the end of high school, students are encouraged to think not just about the product, but the process as well echoing some aspects of metacognition. Being able to give feedback to impact other’s creations is influential and powerful! Notice that the feedback has to be useful as well – calling kids to actually assess the quality of their feedback, not just that they give it -> another age-appropriate ask.
  2. It is powerful in its connections to other contexts. The contexts are not listed explicitly, but because the statement extends to any process or product, you can imagine broad application.
  3. And lastly, it is powerful because it is personal. Giving and taking feedback well requires personal character and calls kids higher in this regard.

What is the relationship between the framework and standards?

The framework broadly delineates the concepts students should know, and the practices students should exhibit, but does not provide the level of detail of grade-by-grade standards, course objectives/descriptions, or lesson plans, and instead serves as a comprehensive guide for the development of standards, curriculum, assessments, teacher education, and extracurricular programs.

The framework is not a set of standards. States may use the framework to develop standards that will combine the concepts and practices into performance expectations that are clear, specific, and measurable. Below is an illustrative example of how a practice and a concept from the framework might be used to develop a grade level standard. 


Practice Concept Standard

How is the framework different than national standards?

  • The framework statements are not standards. They are purposefully not as prescriptive or measurable as performance standards. They do not address individual grade level granularity (instead they address grade bands).
  • There are much fewer statements in the framework than in a standards document. The focus of the framework is a minimum set of concepts and practices that form a baseline literacy in CS that all students should have.
  • In many cases, the framework is not a revision of what states are already teaching, but a first-time defining of the content area. Even states that have some kind of CS framework or standards don’t span K-12.
  • The framework describes what students should learn using short prose that is easy to understand by a wide audience. How learning progresses from one grade band to another is also made clear.
  • An explicit goal of the framework is to show significance/application beyond CS and significance for every citizen, not just CS students.
  • The framework is intentionally designed for customization and will be freely available. We believe states and districts should make the final decision on the documents they use when developing their own CS standards.

What is the relationship with the CSTA K-12 Standards?

The K-12 CS framework serves as an input into the 2016 revision of the CSTA Standards to ensure alignment and allow for the CS education community to speak with a coherent voice about what K-12 students should know and be able to do. Half of the CSTA standards writers (including all of the CSTA lead writers) are also serving as writers of the framework.

What is the timeline?

Feb 3-17 2016: Early review of the 9-12 grade band concepts and practices
March 18 – April 5, 2016: First full review of the K-12 concepts and practices
May/June: Second full review of the K-12 concepts and practices
Sept 2016: Released on K12CS.org
And on: Continued development of ancillary materials and implementation guidance

How can I get involved?

Educators, policymakers, state education representatives, school districts, parents, students, etc… there are a number of ways you can get involved! Review the framework, host a review gathering, or contribute vignettes that illustrate concepts and practices from the framework. Visit the review page and sign up for updates or to be informed about review opportunities.

What happened at past meetings?

Transparency is a top priority of the framework project. Monthly updates are posted in the blog and meeting summaries are posted on the resources page. Sign up for monthly updates here.

What are the principles guiding the project?

Broaden participation in computer science

The framework recognizes the need for diversity in computing and issues of equity, including accessibility. This need is reflected in a choice of concept areas (Impacts of Computing), crosscutting concepts (Ethics), and practices (Fostering an Inclusive Computing Culture) that make diversity, equity, and accessibility first-class topics of study, while interweaving them through all the other topics.

Less is more

The framework will prioritize clarity. It is not an exhaustive list of everything in computer science that can be learned within a K-12 pathway, but instead describes what it means to be literate in computer science. Curriculum developers are encouraged to create a learning experience that extends beyond the framework to encompass students’ many interests, abilities, and aspirations.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

The framework project is not a first step in defining computer science education. In addition to three decades of professional research and practice, the Framework takes into account:

Research-backed and research-forward

The framework will reflect the latest research in CS education, including learning progressions, trajectories, and computational thinking. Where specific CS education research is lacking, the framework will rely on the existing knowledge base (including research from other content areas) to guide decisions such as the developmental appropriateness of particular concepts. Remaining questions will inform a follow-on research agenda and 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.

  • Structure: Viewing computer science through the lens of two dimensions, Concepts and Practices, follows best practices for describing K-12 bodies of knowledge.
  • Process: This work emphasizes transparency throughout the entire process via public one-page summaries, monthly updates, forums/webinars, conversations with stakeholders, thought leader workshops, community previews, and public review periods. While this work is substantially different in scope from standards writing, the framework development process is being advised by Achieve, a non-profit organization with expertise in national standards development.

A step towards something more

The work of implementing K-12 computer science pathways begins with the release of a coherent framework, and it does not end there.

  • Follow-on projects will include processes and products to inform curriculum, the rollout of course pathways, teacher preparation, and assessment.
  • Convenings and workshops of national thought leaders and stakeholders will continue to take place to guide successful implementation.
  • Computer science education is a young field and there is still much to learn. The process of developing the framework is designed to reveal follow-on research questions which are intended to be taken up by our practitioner and research community. This vital work will contribute to future revisions of the Framework.

What does the K-12 CS framework’s steering committee do?

  1. Define and guide the framework development process.
  2. Oversee the review process to ensure multiple opportunities for diverse community involvement, including public/stakeholder feedback and scrutiny.
  3. Increase coherence between the framework, CSTA standards, and other related documents (ex: ISTE standards).
  4. Represent the project and increase public awareness.

The steering committee is not responsible for defining the content of the framework.
See the steering committee’s charter.

How does the CS framework fit with computer literacy and digital citizenship?

The K-12 computer science framework will provide the foundation that other computing disciplines will draw upon, with computer literacy and digital citizenship being the most relevant to the K-12 arena. These three areas (computer literacy, digital citizenship,and computer science) can be thought of as:

  • Computer literacy addresses “how to ______” (e.g., use presentation software or save files to the cloud).
  • Digital citizenship addresses the rights and responsibilities associated with computing. For example, digital citizenship in ISTE’s standards focus on behavior—using something safely and ethically in a digital world.
  • Computer science can be characterized by “why and how ______ works.” Knowing “why ______ works” provides the basis for understanding “how to ______” and the relevant rights/responsibilities, at a much deeper level.

Here are two examples of how a computer literacy concept can be reached from foundational concepts in computer science.

  1. Password security. A student who knows how to make a computer iterate over all the words in an array in a split second is a student who will not use a dictionary word for a password. In this case, understanding “how and why _____ works” ultimately helps students make good decisions about “how to _____”, that is, how to create a secure password.
  2. Pixels. By understanding data representation and levels of abstraction of data, as covered in the framework, students will be better prepared to understand how pictures are made up of pixels, each which have red, green, and blue integer components. While pixels are not explicitly covered in the framework’s concepts, it is an idea that is illuminated by a foundational understanding of data representation and abstraction.

Ultimately, computer literacy and digital citizenship are natural contexts for applying the concepts and practices in the framework.

How is the framework implemented in schools?

The K-12 Computer Science Framework is a high-level document that does not prescribe a particular model of implementation. The concepts and practices in the framework can be integrated within existing classes with an interdisciplinary focus, or within a pathway of standalone computer science classes, or a combination of both. For an example of an integration model, see Arkansas’s K-8 CS plan.