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Computer science standards draft released for public comment

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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Tom McCarthy, DPI Communications Director, (608) 266-3559

MADISON — Citizens, parents, educators, and other school personnel are invited to submit comments or attend one of two public hearings on newly drafted Wisconsin Standards for Computer Science.

The State Superintendent’s Computer Science Standards Writing Committee, a panel of Wisconsin experts representing classroom educators, school leaders, and higher education, with input from business owners and groups, created the standards. The new computer science standards set out grade-band expectations for students to gain a foundation in the subject. For example, a standard in early elementary school will expect students to understand categories and attributes. A lesson to support that standard might have students sort animals by the number of legs, habitat, or how they move. This will lead students to learn how solving smaller problems can be used to solve larger problems based on attributes the problems share.

In fifth grade, standards for algorithms and programming will help educators create lessons that teach students how to modify a set of instructions in a number of different ways and be able to explain how each modification leads to the same result. By eighth grade, a student might be learning testing methods to determine if a computer program will run correctly, as well as use debugging methods to find mistakes and correct errors. In high school, students might design, develop, and implement a computing artifact that responds to an event, such as a robot that responds to a sensor or a mobile app that responds to a text message.

“I would like to thank the members of our Computer Science Standards Writing Committee,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “The standards they wrote set out goals for teaching and learning and will assist educators in curriculum development so our kids gain relevant and rigorous experiences in computer science at every grade level. Technology continues to change society and the workforce our students will enter upon graduation, so clear standards for computer science are one way we can help our kids be academically prepared for the future.”

Comments will be collected over a 30-day period through the department’s computer science website. Two public hearings, each from 4 to 6 p.m., will be held during the comment period to gather public feedback. The first hearing is Feb. 2 at the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) headquarters, 125 South Webster Street, Room P41, Madison. The second hearing, Feb. 7, will be in the Oshkosh Area School District in the auditorium of Webster Stanley Middle School, 915 Hazel Street, Oshkosh.

In addition to the public comment period, the standards will be submitted to the Assembly and Senate Education committees for review and comment. The State Superintendent’s Computer Science Standards Writing Committee will review all comments and incorporate any necessary changes before submitting the standards to the State Superintendent’s Standards Review Council for its review of the process and recommendations. The standards will then be submitted to the state superintendent for approval and publication through the DPI.

In Wisconsin, all state standards serve as a model. Authority to adopt academic standards rests with locally elected school boards. The Wisconsin Standards for Computer Science are the first set of academic standards developed through Wisconsin’s standards review process. The State Superintendent’s Computer Science Standards Writing Committee is co-chaired by Dennis Brylow, associate professor of computer science at Marquette University, and Joseph Kmoch of Whitefish Bay, a retired classroom teacher who now works as a computer science and IT education consultant.

NOTE: More information and a link to the computer science standards comment page are available online.

Official Release