Computer Science Teaching Certification in Disarray

December 10, 2008 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Would you hire a French teacher who had certification, say, only in Spanish; or who had merely taken some undergraduate classes in French culture; or who once visited France but couldn’t speak the language; or who was a native French speaker with no preparation for teaching?

Of course you wouldn’t.

But weak certification requirements in computer science teaching are apparently allowing teachers with comparable gaps to teach computer science in U.S. high schools, according to a new report by the Computer Science Teachers Association.

The report, by CSTA’s Certification Task Force, finds that, in most states, preparation and certification for individuals who are becoming, or continuing as, computer science teachers are largely irrelevant and unconnected to the demands of the field.

It suggests that one contributing factor is ignorance among decisionmakers about what computer science is really all about.

“The current systems of pre-service education and teacher certification, if they exist at all, are profoundly disconnected from the discipline of computer science and the needs of teachers and students,” writes Chris Stephenson, the executive director of the CSTA and report co-author, in a statement accompanying the release of the report.

The report says that neglect of certification systems in this field is helping shrink the supply of computer science teachers and causing students to turn away from studying the subject.

As a result, many of the 1.5 million potential jobs in computing, communications, and information science and engineering that the U.S. economy could create by 2012 might go begging because there will not be enough highly skilled individuals to fill them.

Fortunately, the report by the Computer Science Teachers Association goes beyond handwringing. In addition to providing a comprehensive description of the issues relating to certification, it describes some current models for teacher certification from Georgia and Pennsylvania and Israel and Scotland.

The report culminates with the task force’s recommendation for a multi-level model of computer science teacher certification.

The recommended model addresses the different certification needs of new teachers; veteran teachers with certification in another area who have never taught computer science; veterans with certification in another area who have experience teaching computer science; and career-switchers with a computer science background but no teaching experience.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Boost Student Mental Health and Motivation With Data-Driven SEL
Improve student well-being and motivation with a personalized, data-driven SEL program.
Content provided by EmpowerU Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School Climate & Safety Webinar
Praise for Improvement: Supporting Student Behavior through Positive Feedback and Interventions
Discover how PBIS teams and educators use evidence-based practices for student success.
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
IT Management Webinar
Build a Digitally Responsive Educational Organization for Effective Digital-Age Learning
Chart a guided pathway to digital agility and build support for your organization’s mission and vision through dialogue and collaboration.
Content provided by Bluum

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Curriculum Florida's Math Textbook Brouhaha: Your Questions Answered
Florida rejected several math textbooks for 'indoctrination.' But what do we really know about them—and what happens next for districts?
9 min read
Conceptual Illustration of a chalkboard with math equations, where many are blacked out and unreadable
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and E+/Getty
Curriculum How Prevalent Are Book Bans This Year? New Data Show Impact
Two million students in 86 school districts have had access to books restricted due to book bans, according to a report by PEN America.
4 min read
Image of library shelves.
VTT Studio/iStock/Getty
Curriculum Opinion Ignoring Racism in Schools Actually Increases Prejudice
Good intentions aren't enough to address race and racism in schools; good practice is.
Ross Wiener & Francesca López
5 min read
Conceptual Illustration of a hand pointing the way forward over a field of arrows pointing in all directions.
Curriculum Opinion AP Takes a Stand Amid the Raging Curriculum Debates. It’s Worth Emulating
The College Board has made it clear that it won't be cowed by ideologues, and that's heartening.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty