The recent actions by the Texas Legislature and the State Board of Education has stimulated discussions among the Texas education community on how best to provide more opportunities for Texas students to take computer science and other technology related courses. In order to better understand the beliefs and attitudes on these issues, TCEA conducted a survey. The results of the survey were recently shared with the State Board of Education to assist in making sound policy regarding computer science and other technology courses.
The survey dealt with several issues. The first was the new graduation requirement option of substituting two credits in computer programming languages for two foreign language credits. This option was included in HB 5 so the SBOE must make rules providing this option for students. Below is the legal citation from HB 5.
(b-12) In adopting rules under Subsection (b-1), the State Board of Education shall adopt criteria to allow a student to comply with the curriculum requirements for the two credits in a language other than English required under Subsection (b-1)(5) by substituting two credits in computer programming languages.
In January the board designated Computer Science I, II, and III as courses that could satisfy this new option. Two/thirds of the respondents agreed with this decision. In addition, 75% felt that AP Computer Science should also count for this option. 73% believe that Advanced Computer Programming (CTE) should also count and 69% want Computer Programming (CTE) to count. It is not known when the board will take this issue up again. It is likely they will keep the three courses they previously designated as eligible, but add more to the list.
The second issue deals with the courses districts are required to offer from the technology applications area. Currently a district is required to offer four technology applications courses. It is up to the district to determine which courses they will offer. At the January SBOE meeting, the state board voted to require school districts to offer Computer Science I and Computer Science II and then let each district choose two additional technology applications courses for a total of four. This passed on first reading, but requires a second vote. The second vote is to be taken on April 11th.
Of those who responded to the survey, 69% believed that school districts should be required to offer CS I and CS II, however, 71% believe that school districts should be able to choose two courses from the computer science courses listed in the STEM endorsement. The SBOE voted on Wednesday, April 9th, to require districts to offer Computer Science I and Computer Science II OR AP Computer Science. In addition to these two courses, districts would be required to offer two more technology applications courses, however they could choose which ones to offer.
Finally, the question that had the highest support was the question on whether the technology applications courses should be placed within the CTE course offerings. 75% of the respondents indicated they would support such a move.
You can find the results of the survey here.