Mississippi Sets 2024 Goal for CS Education
- By Dian Schaffhauser
The Mississippi Department of Education has committed to implementing a computer science curriculum in all schools by 2024. This isn't a new goal. The CS education work began in 2016, when the state announced plans to roll out a three-year Computer Science for Mississippi (CS4MS) pilot program in 38 school districts. During the first year, some 67 high school teachers and 167 K-5 teachers taught CS in the classroom; 200 of them received summertime professional development. For elementary school the CS curriculum covers coding, digital literacy, keyboarding and robotics. In high school students attend a course called "Exploring Computer Science."
Since then, the number of teachers trained to teach CS has doubled, and nearly 40 percent of the state's schools are taking part in the pilot.
Before the pilot ends in 2019, the state plans to train teachers in grades 6-8 and expand the offerings available at the high school level. Middle school coverage is expected to include digital citizenship; keyboarding; software applications, including word processing and spreadsheets; coding; and career exploration.
Additionally, starting next fall, state schools will implement new CS standards adapted from the Computer Science Teachers Association K-12 Computer Science Standards. The standards focus on five "core concepts" and seven "practices."
The core concepts encompass: computing systems; networks and the internet; data and analysis; algorithms and programming; and the impacts of computing.
The practices are:
- Fostering an inclusive computing culture;
- Collaborating around computing;
- Recognizing and defining computational problems;
- Developing and using abstractions;
- Creating computational artifacts;
- Testing and refining computational artifacts; and
- Communicating about computing.
Mississippi isn't known for its high-tech leanings. A presentation delivered by Maria Davis from the state's Office of Secondary Education noted that the state had just 145 CS undergraduates in the latest recorded numbers and only two high schools teaching the College Board's Advanced Placement Computer Science course in 2016. In addition, reporting by the Hattiesburg American stated that 40 percent of the state's residents don't have access to high-speed broadband services.
The paper quoted Associate State Superintendent Jean Massey, "who spoke at a Board of Education meeting. "We cannot be global citizens; we cannot move this state forward if we don't prepare our students," she said. Massey is leading the initiative for the state. The pilot is being administered by Mississippi State University's Research & Curriculum Unit. Last year, the unit, along with university's College of Education, received a three-year $700,000 grant to scale the training and curriculum development for CS4MS.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.