Michigan K-12 Computer Science (CS) Standards
What is Computer Science (CS)?
As the foundation for all computing, computer science is defined as “the study of computers and algorithmic processes, including their principles, their hardware and software designs, their [implementation], and their impact on society” (Tucker et. al, 2003, p. 6). CS is frequently confused with the use of computers, such as accessing the internet and using computer programs and tools. While information technology (IT) can overlap with CS, it is mainly focused on the application of CS, such as the installation of computer software rather than the creation of it. It is important for students learning CS to have a sound understanding of IT concepts. CS is the study of why and how computers work and how to create technologies.
For Michigan’s students to be competitive in the 21st Century economy, it is critical that they have access to computer science learning opportunities. As of December 2018, 28 states will have approved, endorsed, or adopted Computer Science Standards (CSS). Not all Michigan students have access to CS learning currently; at the core of the CSS adoption is the commitment that all Michigan students will have a clear understanding of the principles and practices of CS. The proposed CSS encapsulate what students should know by graduation. Students will learn new approaches to problem-solving, harness the power of computational thinking, and use CS tools to create technology.
What will this look like in K-12 schools?
Models for delivery of the CSS will be determined by school districts in ways consistent with their existing programming. Learning the concepts of CS can begin as early as Pre-K and a device is not required. Pre-readers can master the foundations of early coding concepts through learning patterns, problem-solving, representation, and sequencing. It is also important for students at this early age to develop social and emotional skills through play with their peers and adults so that they learn how to effectively communicate and work in teams. Elementary and middle school students may be exposed to CS in a computer class or during activities integrated into math, science, social studies, English language arts, art, etc. Through integration, students have exposure to both traditional subjects and computational thinking. In high school, CS courses are typically stand-alone but may be taught by teachers from other departments. There are a wealth of professional development resources available so that teachers with no prior coding experience can teach it.
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 In 2018, there were nearly 65,000 information technology (IT)/computer science job openings in southeast Michigan alone. Through 2024, Michigan is expected to grow over 270,670 IT/computer science jobs, an estimated $20.8 billion in wage growth. (Source: Based on Workforce Intelligence Network and DTMB Labor Market Information Data May 2018)