California State Board of Education expands access to CS education

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On Thursday California’s State Board of Education approved one of the nation’s most comprehensive set of K-12 computer science standards. This is a significant and positive change for California’s teachers, students, parents, and communities who will all benefit from expanding K-12 CS education.

The Board’s action sends an important message that every one of the more than 6,000,000 public school students in California should have the opportunity to learn computer science. These standards give clarity to teachers and administrators about how they should think about K-12 CS education, and provide guidance to districts and schools about what subjects schools should offer. With more than 74,000 open computing jobs in the state of California and less than half of its schools offering this fundamental subject, there’s a clear gap that needs to be addressed.

The California CS Standards emphasize the following skills, with equity as the overarching goal:

“These core concepts are coupled with core computer science practices that expressly require students to foster an inclusive computing culture addressing diverse needs and unique perspectives. As such, the study of computer science is a key factor in developing student empathy and celebration of diversity.”

California Computer Science Standards — Introduction

  • Problem Solving: Recognizing & Defining Computational Problems
  • Collaboration: Collaborating Around Computers
  • Critical Thinking: Developing and Using Abstractions
  • Creativity: Creating Computational Artifacts and Testing & Refining Computational Artifacts
  • Communication: Communicating About Computing

The Board’s action didn’t happen overnight, and many CS community members and leaders in California deserve recognition for helping this process along the way. The process started with state legislative champions that passed AB1539 in 2014, which called on the Board to adopt K-12 standards. Along the way, numerous community champions continued to shepherd the work, including Bryan Twarek and Beth Simon, who co-chaired the writing committee and Julie Flapan from Alliance for California Computing Education For Students and Schools (ACCESS) and the Computer Science for California (CSforCA) project who lead community advocacy. And none of this would have been possible without the support of Trish Williams on the State Board of Education, who the community knows as the “CS Champion for the State Board.” We want to thank everyone, and especially Trish, for her work on this.

…P.S. did you know…

And, just a few weeks ago, the state legislature passed a resolution, introduced by Sen. Marc Berman, designating September as Computer Science Education Month. Highlighting the crucial role that computer science plays in transforming our society, the resolution calls on the state to find ways of providing professional development for teachers and opportunities for all students to learn computer science. And we think this vote is a great way to kick off CS Education Month!

The Board also accepted the recommendations of the California Computer Science Strategic Implementation Advisory Panel. This work was a result of AB2329, sponsored by former assemblymember Susan Bonilla. These recommendations will be incorporated into a CS Strategic Implementation Plan created by the CDE, go the State Board of Ed in March 2019 for adoption, and then to the Legislature by July 2019. The panel’s recommendations are organized into three categories:

  • Ensuring Access and Equity for All Students in California Schools (Access and Equity)
  • Ensuring Appropriate Support for California Teachers and Administrators (Educator Support)
  • Scaling Up K–12 Computer Science Education in California (Standards Implementation)

Thanks to all the panel members appointed by Governor Brown, standards committee, SBE President Kirst, Superintendent Torlakson, and the CA Senate and Assembly, as well as the leadership provided by the CDE staff.

The ACCESS and CSforCA project invited the final gubernatorial candidates Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and John Cox as well as State Superintendent of Public Instruction candidates Tony Thurmond and Marshall Tuck to respond to questions related to their agenda for computer science education in California. The questionnaire is intended to be a resource to learn about the candidates’ positions on expanding equity and access to computer science in K12 public education in California. We do NOT endorse nor oppose candidates for office. Their responses will be posted at

Alexis Harrigan, Director of State Government Affairs

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