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Using CSTA K-12 Standards to Create Curricular Choices

In 2010 Springfield made computer science a graduation requirement and offered two paths to meet that requirement: a gifted course and an academic course. Both courses were based on the CSTA K-12 Standards, and have evolved as the standards were updated. However, the gifted course used robotics and the academic course was based on "Computer Science in the Modern World."

Last year I was challenged to increase the choices from two to five. Starting this September we are offering the following courses that meet the computer science graduation requirement at Springfield:

  • Quest 9: Future Studies, a gifted offering that uses several robotics platforms and includes current events in AI, CS and Robotics as well as science fiction readings. Only available to gifted freshmen.
  • Computer Science Principles, focusing on mobile app development is offered for any 10-12 grade student and is available as an option for honors freshman to take to meet their graduation requirement.
  • Web Application Development 1, an academic course available to any student, focuses on the Internet and building standards compliant, accessible web sites.
  • STEM 1, an academic course available to any student uses several robotics platforms along with current events in AI, CS and Robotics.
  • Computer Science Basics, the original computer science course for freshmen.
  • I used the CSTA K-12 Level 3a standards extensively while writing these courses. Here is my working document with which standards are met in each class. The only new course is STEM 1, and that is based on the previously existing Quest 9 course. The Web Application Development course was due for a review to switch from XHTML to HTML5, and I only had to add two units, one on hardware and one in JavaScript to meet most of the standards.

    Many of the students in these courses this year, will go on to take another Computer Science course in the future. For example, 27% of the students in these classes this year are taking them as electives after having met their graduation requirement. This presents a data collection opportunity. Starting this year, I plan to collect evidence from each student on meeting the Level 3a standards. Every student will have a portfolio and will provide evidence for each of the standards. The added advantage to students is that they will be able to see how they met a particular standard with Scratch in one class and with Python in a different class, thereby reinforcing the idea that the concept is more important than the specific implementation of that concept.

    I was very interested to discover what choice girls would make, when given a variety of courses to meet the standards. The results are:

  • Quest 9: Future Studies -- 100% Freshmen and 50% female
  • Computer Science Principles -- 54% Freshmen and 30% of those are female
  • Web Application Development 1 -- 48% Freshmen and 54% of those are female
  • STEM 1 -- 35% Freshmen and 43% of those are female
  • Computer Science Basics -- 86% Freshmen and 41% of those are female
  • As a note when looking at these percentages, I believe our school has slightly more male students than female.

    Please let me know if you find any of this interesting or useful! Just use the comments below, Thanks.

    Tammy Pirmann
    District Representative
    CSTA Board of Directors


    Thanks for sharing this information. I am starting a new Intro to Programming course at an all-girls school and your Google Docs were extremely helpful and I love the idea of a portfolio!

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