Rhode Island’s elementary and secondary schools are implementing new computer science standards this academic year thanks to the Rhode Island Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts + Design and Mathematics (STEAM) Center at Rhode Island College. The standards address six core concepts including: computational thinking and programming, computing systems and networks, cybersecurity, data and analysis, digital literacy and responsible computing in society.
In 2017 members of the Computer Science Education Standards Advisory Committee met over a 10-month period to develop the 116 standards. The 20-member group, led by Rhode Island STEAM Center Director Carol Giuriceo, included elementary, middle and high school teachers, district coordinators and administrators, higher education faculty and industry professionals. The Rhode Island Council on Elementary and Secondary Education endorsed the standards in May.
“The collaborative nature of this effort is a testament to Rhode Islanders’ interest in our students’ future,” said Giuriceo. “The strength of these standards is that they’re user friendly and will help teachers identify the computer science knowledge, practices and skills that all K-12 students need in today’s world.”
The group also took strides to ensure that equity factored into the standards.
“We were very aware that one of the things that computer science suffers from nationally, not just in Rhode Island, is a lack of diversity and equity, particularly when it comes to girls and women and people of color,” Giuriceo said. “The numbers are incredibly low. So, we realized that when we say computer science for all, we truly should mean it.”
Additionally, Giuriceo said that the standards were written so that computational thinking can be incorporated into other academic disciplines.
“It doesn’t matter if a student is going into medicine, journalism, retail, hospitality or manufacturing, he or she needs a basic understanding of computer science to become successful, contributing and productive people in today’s society,” she said.
For more details about the state’s computer science education standards, click here