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ACM Urges Inclusion of Computer Science in K12 Core Curriculum

The Association for Computing Machinery
Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession

Contact: Virginia Gold

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JULY 21, 2011 -- WASHINGTON, DC --  Although the National Research Council’s newly released Framework for K-12 Science Education provides a helpful next step in revising the existing scientific ideas and practices for all U.S. students to know by the end of high school, ACM is concerned that computing and computer science are not yet  included as a core part of the framework for mathematics and science K-12 education despite substantial input from the computing community.

            “Computing is by far where the greatest demand for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs is in today's economy," said Bobby Schnabel, Chair of  ACM’s Education Policy Committee .  ”But the major efforts by the Governors and the Academy to define what students should know for the 21st Century make little mention of the need for computer science in the core curriculum. This is a missed opportunity to expose students to a fundamental discipline that they will need for their careers as well as their lives."

            The NRC Framework report also reflects the longstanding confusion between computer literacy, which uses computing as a tool, vs. acquiring basic knowledge of computation and computer science. This difference was a central finding of ACM's report "Running on Empty: The Failure to Teach K-12 Computer Science in the Digital Age." While computing technologies can be powerful tools, computer science education is not about using computers, but about teaching students the fundamentals of computation and, thus, empowering them with new problem-solving tools and capabilities.  ACM and several partners expanded on these points in a letter to the NRC commenting on its draft framework in August 2010.

            As the Computing in the Core Coalition (CinC) noted in its statement regarding the NRC’s new framework, a fundamental understanding of computation and computer science is critical to success in the digital age. Their statement added that both the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) and the NRC Framework are omitting a chance to bring this knowledge and these skills into classrooms across the country. It also said that although the NRC framework acknowledges this problem by suggesting that computer science should be part of the CCSSI, it is not currently included.

            The Computing in the Core statement added that many other organizations, including the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, agree with this position.  ACM continues to work with its CinC partners to engage education stakeholders at all levels to strengthen K-12 computer science education and ensure its proper place in the K-12 curriculum.

About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.

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