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Applause for ISTE Standards Refresh

Over the last year the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has been carrying out a review and renewal of its National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) and early indications are that the results will be positive for educators concerned about ensuring that students have the skills they need to thrive in an increasingly technological world.

The newly released ISTE NETS for Students Draft document (1/4/2007) is a move towards inclusion of computer science topics as well as technology topics under one standard. I applaud ISTE for suggesting a broader base of computing studies than in previous standards.

While I believe the draft represents a step toward better computing preparation for K-8 students in the US, the one-page draft does not provide sufficient indication as to the anticipated level of student understanding expected. For example, Section "VI.A. Technology Operations and Concepts, understand and use technology systems" does not indicate the type of technology systems. I can reasonably imagine this as anything from connecting and using a DVD player or MP3 player, to connecting and using a computer system.

Unfortunately, "IV.B. Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving and Decision-Making, plan and manage activities to develop solutions and complete projects" also fails to specifically state that students should use algorithmic thinking as a means to develop solutions. Trial and error is a great place to start, but eventually standard algorithms need to be introduced and modified in the approach to a solution.

CSTA applauds ISTE for moving technology standards forward and for introducing concepts that are suggested in the
ACM Model Curriculum for K-12 Computer Science Education
. While not perfect, the revised NETS are moving students toward knowledge and skills necessary for success in today's digital world. We would encourage ISTE, however, to look at the future needs of US students and consider a more comprehensive approach to these needs.

Anita Verno
Chair, CSTA Curriculum Committee

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