Alabama will soon be joining 15 other states in recognizing the importance of computer science for high school students by allowing these courses to count towards completion of the mathematics credits required for Alabama high school graduation.
At the request of Alabama State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Tommy Bice, I had the opportunity to assist with the convening of a statewide committee of Mathematics and Computer Science teachers and content specialists to compare the content of the AP Computer Science A Course and the Computer Science Principles Course with the Alabama Course of Study-Mathematics. The purpose of the comparison was to identify overlaps in content and to make recommendations to the State Department of Education regarding the option of awarding mathematics credit for completion of the Computer Science Courses.
Support for the committee work was provided by Dawn Morrison and Cynthia Freeman from the state department of education and Mary Boehm, President of A+ College Ready. A+ College Ready is partnering with the University of Alabama (UA) and Dr. Jeff Gray, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science at UA on a National Science Foundation CS10K grant, CS4AL. Three of the CS4AL teachers, Jeff Baker, Jill Westerlund and Carol Yarbrough, also participated as committee members.
The committee was asked to:
Review content of the CS Principles Course and the AP Computer Science A Course
Review the high school mathematics courses as outlined in the Alabama Course of Study- Mathematics
Review support documents to clarify content
Map specific mathematics course of study objectives to content in the two CS course
A major driver for this work was the desire to increase opportunities for students and to give school and school district greater flexibility in offering these courses to a wider range of students. Alabama educators could definitely identify with this quote from Running on Empty::
[D]espite the push for additional mathematics and science, and the recognition that curricula and graduation requirements must reflect the demands of a 21st Century workplace, computer science is still predominantly relegated to an elective credit. As a result, not only are students less likely to perceive computer science as relevant to their academic and career success, even students who are eager to take computer science courses are unable to fit them into their increasingly overcrowded school schedules. Administrators are also less likely to allocate funding to provide staff and resources for elective courses.
I am happy to report that the recommendations of the committee were reported out at a November 14, 2013 work session of the State Board of Education. This recommendation allows the awarding of the mathematics credit for the completion of Computer Science Principles or Advanced Placement Computer Science A.
The board work session was recorded and can be viewed at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/alabama-department-of-education.
Final action on the recommendations will be taken by January, 2014.
Key questions to consider:
What is the status of Computer Science in the graduation requirements of your state?
Do you believe that allowing Computer Science to meet a math or science requirement will increase access and participation in Computer Science courses?