STEM education
CDE proposes new computer science education standards

Computer science-related occupations are the number one source of all new wages in the United States, according to, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities.

California currently has 74,303 open computing jobs, and had only 4,029 computer science graduates in 2015. Even more concerning, in the 2016–17 school year, only 580 schools in California offered an AP Computer Science course.

Perhaps anticipating this growing need, Assembly Bill 1539, passed in 2014, directed the California Department of Education, Instructional Quality Commission and State Board of Education to develop computer science standards for the state. The recently completed Draft Computer Science Standards are now available for public review and comment through June 20, 2018, on the CDE website at Public comment will also be welcomed at the September SBE meeting.

According to the introduction document accompanying the proposed standards, the standards are based on computer science core concepts and core practices, and were developed by members of the SBE-appointed Computer Science Standards Advisory Committee. The introduction also states that the proposed standards are aligned with the K-12 Computer Science Framework, which was created by a coalition of ed tech organizations including and the Computer Science Teachers Association. It is important to note that California does not yet have its own framework for implementing these new standards.

Another important factor to note is that the adoption of these standards by local districts and counties is voluntary — they do not mandate that school districts provide computer science courses. While CSBA is supportive of the effort to address the state’s need for consistent and informed education standards in computer science, the new standards come with some initial concerns CSBA hopes can be addressed in the public review and comment period. Specifically:

  • The draft standards are not accompanied by curriculum or instructional materials and it’s likely that districts will have to develop their own or purchase them from private sector vendors
  • The draft standards are not accompanied by California’s own implementation framework
  • The state has not provided funding for professional development, which would be needed to train existing teachers to teach computer science classes or to integrate principles from computer science into existing core curriculum
  • The state is not providing nor funding hardware purchases or wireless access
In addition, there are concerns about equity. “It is likely that more affluent districts and districts located in areas with more access to experts and technology will ramp up their efforts and students in less advantages districts will continue to fall further behind,” said CSBA Sr. Director of Communications Troy Flint.

CSBA encourages its members to weigh in on this important issue and help shape the state’s computer science standards. CSBA will also keep members updated as the process continues. The CDE and SBE are currently in the process of developing the new California computer science strategic implementation plan, which is required to be submitted to the Legislature on or before July 15, 2019.

Learn more and access the Computer Science Online Survey to review the standards and submit comments at