Washington formally adopted new computer-science standards for students last week.
Within the next few years, all of Washington’s second-graders will know how to use a computer app to draw a picture. Middle-school students will understand different file formats, and high-school seniors will recognize the issues that affect computer network speeds.
Those are some of the goals in the state’s first set of computer-science standards, which were formally adopted last week and will be put into practice over the next several years. Already, about one in 10 schools offer programs that meet the standards. The state hopes half of them will by 2019.
Washington is one of only a handful of states with computer-science standards, according to the National Association of State Boards of Education.
At a signing ceremony in Tumwater, State Superintendent Randy Dorn noted that many jobs in the future will require some aspect of computer science. The nonprofit Code.org estimates that Washington has more than 23,000 open computing jobs, which is three times the average demand rate for other jobs.
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“It’s crucial that today’s and tomorrow’s students are not only consumers of computer science, but also makers,” Dorn said in a statement. “What that means is that they will not only be able to use the latest and greatest mobile app, they will be able to create the latest and greatest mobile app.”
Washington based its standards on the ones developed by the national Computer Science Teachers Association. The Washington standards introduce fundamental computer science concepts to all students and present computer science in a way that can fulfill a computer science, math or science credit for graduation. They also encourage schools to offer high-level computer-science courses and increase the availability of rigorous computer science for all students, especially for groups that are underrepresented in the field, including females.
The standards will help students from all over the state, not just those in tech hubs like Seattle, said Andy Shouse, chief program officer of Washington STEM, a nonprofit that advocates for science, technology, engineering and math education.
“We’re ready to work throughout the state to ensure students from Spokane to Selah to Seattle benefit from a high-quality computer science education,” he said.
About 25 percent of Washington schools offer advanced placement computer science classes, and about 2,000 students took Advanced Placement (AP) exams in computer science last year, according to the College Board, the nonprofit that oversees the AP program.
An analysis of the College Board scores showed that 30 percent of the students were female, the third highest percentage of any state, after West Virginia and Wyoming. In eight states, fewer than 10 female students took the exam.