MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama State Board of Education (SBOE) recently approved a set of education standards in the areas of Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS) that makes Alabama an early adopter in establishing a statewide digital learning and computer science standards framework. Approval by the SBOE showed strong support for digital learning and computer science education and its relevance to today’s students and workforce.

“We want Alabama children to have the benefit of the most significant education standards – especially those that take advantage of an emerging world of careers,” Ed Richardson, Interim State Superintendent of Education said. “The future belongs to those who are best prepared to meet the challenges of a changing educational, professional, and technological landscape.”

Alabama’s new DLCS standards blends the ability to use information and communication technologies with the study of computers to create an integrated method of instruction that can enhance any existing educational content. The new DLCS standards are not a stand-alone course that is separate from what is already taught in schools. Rather, the DLCS standards work with existing standards in all content areas (reading, math, history, science, social studies, etc.) from kindergarten through 12th grade. Exposure to various forms of digital learning and computer science helps Alabama students become computational thinkers and familiarizes them with the digital culture that is fueling much of the current, and future, workforce.

School systems across the state have an option to participate using the new DLCS standards for the 2018-2019 school year, however, all schools are mandated to use the new standards at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. Making sure teachers are trained and prepared to implement the DLCS standards is a priority of all involved. Professional development that shows teachers ways to effectively incorporate DLCS into their classrooms will be available to school systems statewide. CODE.org, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities, is one of the organizations instrumental in Alabama’s efforts. Through partnerships with A+ College Ready, and the Alabama State Department of Education, CODE.org and others are working to increase professional development for Alabama teachers.

Each of the learning goals are age appropriate and, even in the earliest grades, starts students thinking about ‘algorithms’ (established rules to be followed in calculations or other problem solving operations) and how they can apply these algorithms in their daily lives.

Dr. Cynthia McCarty, SBOE Representative for District 6 and a representative on Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s Computer Science Advisory Council, said proficiency in computer science has positive impacts across the curriculum and should be a priority statewide. “We know that the careers of the future are increasingly dependent on having some familiarity with computer science, algorithms, and the cognitive and technical skills these standards provide,” McCarty said. “I would like to see every school in the state embrace this opportunity and continue preparing our students for the future and high-demand careers.”

For the DLCS standards, learning goals were established for each grade, immersing students in cutting edge knowledge that teaches students to problem solve, understand concepts involving safety and security, collaboratively utilize research skills, understand various computing devices, and pioneer new solutions to problems.

On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, Governor Kay Ivey and the Computer Science Advisory Council will host the Alabama Computer Science Education Summit in Montgomery. A day-long event intended to synergize varied stakeholders in the state of Alabama to develop and promote policy and support the primary goal of making computer science education available to every student in every school in our Alabama.

Computer science in Alabama:
  • Alabama currently has 4,393 open computing jobs (4.5 times the average demand rate in Alabama).
  • The average salary for a computing occupation in AL is $82,893, which is significantly higher than the average salary in the state ($42,510). The existing open jobs alone represent a $364,148,949 opportunity in terms of annual salaries.
  • Alabama had 503 computer science graduates in 2015; 21% were female.
  • There were 1,520 exams were taken in AP Computer Science by high school students in Alabama in 2017
  • A total of 86 schools in AL (25% of AL schools with AP programs) offered an AP Computer Science course in 2016-2017 (7% offered AP CS A and 23% offered AP CSP), which is 58 more than the previous year.

Alabama is one of only 15 states in America to implement Computer Science Standards in all grades.

*Data provided by Code.org

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