Folks at the Iowa Capitol get it: computer science is right there with reading, writing and arithmetic when it comes to essentials for thriving in modern society. Whether at work, at home or at play, computer technology permeates every aspect of our lives. That is why the legislature in 2020 directed the Iowa Department of Education (via House File 2629) to create a working group of experts in computer science education to make recommendations for how to expand computer science opportunities for learners.
Convened in December, 2020, by co-chairs Kathy Kay, Chief Information Officer at Principal Financial Group and Jeff Weld, Executive Director of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, the working group met regularly over the course of six months to accomplish their assigned mission. Made up of leaders across academia – K-12 and higher education, business and industry and government, they brought varied perspectives and priorities to the table, united by a common passion and commitment to deliver solutions to Iowa’s computer science imperative. The work of the group and the resultant report, were ably facilitated by Linda Fandel, Governor’s Liaison for Future Ready Iowa at the Department of Education and Wren Hoffman, Computer Science Consultant for the Department.
Eighteen total recommendations were brought forth by the working group, all aimed at strengthening computer science instruction and promoting the value of computer science to youth and adult Iowans. The top three recommendations are summarized as:
- Create a standing body of experts to advise the Iowa Department of Education on professional development and licensure to assure that every child has a highly qualified computer science teacher.
- Equalize opportunity for all students to enjoy top quality computer science education through creative solutions such as shared resources and instructional partnerships.
- Provide all students across Iowa with the opportunity for work-based learning experiences in computation and information technology, now embedded aspects of nearly every career path.
These and fifteen other recommendations may be queued up for implementation as early as summer of 2022, and shortly thereafter, depending on legislative support and capacity at the Department of Education. The report, Building on Iowa's Vision for Computer Science Education, will be posted at the Iowa Department of Education website shortly.