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May 24, 2006

What To Do About CS Teacher Certification

Anyone who takes the time to follow this blog knows that one of the most challenging issues we face is the current lack of standardized teacher certification requirements for high school computer science teachers.

The saga of CSTA's involvement in this issue is long and complex. Suffice to say that all of our early research told us that computer science teacher certification in the U.S. is a complete mess and all of the members who have written to us about this issue (via email, articles in the CSTA Voice, and comments here on the blog) agree with this assessment.

Here is how the current mess breaks down:
* some states have requirements for teaching computer science
* some states have NO requirements for teaching computer science
* half of the teachers in any given state know whether or not there are requirements, the rest do not
* some states with requirements demand that teachers have taken or taught courses that do not exist
* some states classify computer science under business, some under math, some under science, and some under vocational technology
* some people responsible for computer science teaching requirements at the state level do not know what computer science is
* many just don't care

Before CSTA can make any recommendations on how to improve the situation, we have to have more solid, research-based data. So, for the last months we have been collecting the computer science teacher certification requirements for each state. The biggest challenge has been to find someone who actually admits to being responsible in each state. The second biggest challenge has been trying to explain to whoever is in charge that we are not talking about K-12 technology use standards. We now have data from all but 14 states and we are working hard to get them to respond. Even once we have all the data, though, I wonder what it is we can do to fix this mess.

So here are my questions for you.

1. Do you think we should have a national high school computer science certification requirement that would apply in every state?
2. Would your state actually opt in to such a program?
3. Should computer science be classified as a science, math, technology, or business specialization?
4. Should there be a single national praxis test that could be used to ensure sufficient subject content and teaching mastery to support certification?

I would love to know what you think.

Chris Stephenson
Executive Director

Posted by cstephenson at 05:28 PM | Comments (19)