May 19, 2024


Built General Tough

K-12 schools may see new computer science mandate

** By 2024-25, students in grades K-8 must have the option to enroll in an age-appropriate general education course that incorporates computer science principles, offered by their school.

By the end of June, a conference committee of House and Senate members will reconcile hundreds of differences in the two budget bills (including this one), but where they’ll land is unclear.

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“Computer science … is probably going to be part of what Ohio students will be required to complete in the future,” said Will Schwartz, for the Ohio School Boards Association. “It’s just a matter of how we get there in the next two years. I think that’s what the Senate is contemplating in their changes.”

Both the House and Senate versions would require a new committee, led by ODE and Ohio HigherEd, to develop a statewide plan within one year. The committee would have to include representatives of teachers, the career-technical education sector, colleges, businesses and computer science organizations.

Some say Ohio’s already behind and should immediately mandate computer science classes, given American’s digital economy. Others say if it’s that important, state leaders should plan carefully and get the curriculum just right.

Many local high schools already offer computer course options. Kettering Fairmont has introduction to computer programming, computer information technology, digital design and others. Stebbins offers a path where students can take computer hardware, networking and cybersecurity courses.

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Jessica Poiner, education policy analyst for the Fordham Institute, said one of the concerns about requiring all schools to have computer science classes ready to go in the next few years is whether there are enough teachers, especially if the courses are required in K-8 schools.

“Computer science education is growing in popularity, but it’s still uncommon enough at the primary and secondary level that there may not be enough teachers to go around,” Poiner said. “A shortage would be especially likely during the first few years of a statewide implementation effort, when all of Ohio’s schools are suddenly scrambling to find certified teachers.”