A working group of the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council says that Iowa high schools should make completion of computer science coursework a requirement for graduation.

The recommendation is one of three overall goals of the council's Computer Science Workgroup for the coming legislative session, the group's co-facilitator, Mark Gruwell, said in an interview with the Technology Association of Iowa.

"Our overall goal is to expose students as much as we can to computer science, and find a way to create a computer science pathway from pre-K through college so we can get students involved in and train them to go into computer science," Gruwell said.

The Computer Science Workgroup will focus on three areas in the coming year:
  • Phase in a computer science endorsement, which would be required to teach high school computer science courses; optional but strongly encouraged to teach middle school computer science courses; and optional to teach elementary school computer science courses.
  • Ensure that the computer science endorsement may be obtained in a flexible manner while maintaining standards that provide assurance that anyone with the endorsement is competent to teach a computer science course or computer science coursework -- such as through coursework, co-teaching and mentorships, competency assessments, recognized training such as Project Lead The Way, or a combination of the foregoing.
  • Require the successful completion of computer science coursework as a requirement of high school graduation.
Gruwell said that requiring a computer science component as a condition of high school graduation, which has grabbed the most attention of the three proposals, is a potential way to solidify the future of Iowa's technology workforce.

"We've agreed that the earlier we can introduce students to what computer science is and educate their parents as well, the better off we are," he said.

"If a student gets into computer science at a young age and continues on that pathway, he or she is going to be well prepared to take advanced courses at the college level or even go into industry upon completing an associate degree in computer science."