Like Goldilocks, I like my teacher certification just right — not too hot and not too cold. That is why I embarked on changing the teacher certification requirements for the Fundamentals of Computer Science course. This course is designed to be an introductory, survey course that exposes students to different aspects of computer science. It is meant to be broad and shallow instead of narrow and deep. Yet, the course currently requires a computer science grades 8-12 certification similar to Computer Science I, II and III. That means teachers with a technology applications certification cannot teach Fundamentals of CS, and that makes it very difficult to teach this course in eighth grade.
There is a multi-step process to change teacher certification requirements in Texas. Once a petition is accepted by the State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC), TEA considers making changes and initiates the rule making process. This past Friday June 10th, TEA recommended to SBEC to add the technology applications certification to the Fundamentals of CS course. SBEC will likely vote on the proposal and have first reading during their next meeting in August, and if all goes well, the change could be adopted as soon as the October SBEC meeting.
With TEA recommending the change to SBEC, hopefully it is just a matter of time before more students, including eighth graders, have access to learning the basics of computer science from highly qualified teachers.
Hal Speed is an advocate for computer science education for all students in grades K-12 and believes these skills are necessary for socioeconomic mobility and the future prosperity of our nation in the digital age. He founded CS4TX to coordinate activities across the state and represent Texas in the national CSforAll initiative and the ECEP Alliance. Hal works at Dell and volunteers with other organizations including Code.org, CSTA, K-12 CS Framework and TCEA TA/CS-SIG. He can be reached at @HalSpeed