Massachusetts state board approved new K-12 digital literacy and computer science standards

The state board of elementary and secondary education in Massachusetts approved unanimously a new set of voluntary digital literacy and computer science standards to be used starting this autumn. The new standards will support students to be better prepared for future jobs, while being able to think about problem solving in new ways and providing them with valuable skills.

The standards were developed with the support of educators and industry representatives. Additionally, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will collaborate with the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN) to support districts for implementing the standards. This organization is funded by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, Google, Microsoft and other high tech companies and foundations.

The new standards consider four main topics, which are Computing and Society, Digital Tools and Collaboration, Computing Systems and Computational Thinking. The material covered for each of these topics becomes more complex according to the school year of the students. Kindergarten students will be required to develop simple algorithms, learn basic computer safety practices and utilize Scratch for simple programming reasoning.

Fifth graders will learn about copyright, hardware, software and spreadsheets. By middle school, students will be able to create digital portfolios, multimedia blogs, webpages, online surveys, understand content licenses, create programs with loops/conditional statements and relate computing resources with global society topics.

Finally high school students will be taught how to create a positive web presence, understand effects of innovation, write sophisticated programs, develop digital artifacts and sophisticated simulations. Additional basic digital literacy skills will be included throughout the whole process to educate students about appropriate online behavior, evaluate the accuracy of sources and bias, as well as the importance of reporting cyberbullying.

More work remains to be done, including organizing mechanisms for ongoing implementation support, finding accurate assessment tools and discussing further funding opportunities.

Additional Sources: Wbur News