Ed-Tech Policy

Computer Literacy: A Survey of InitiativesFor Teachers and Students Across the States

October 24, 1984 8 min read

This past summer, Electronic Learning magazine polled 50 state education departments to compile information for its “Fourth Annual Survey of the States.”

The results, printed in the magazine’s October issue, “reveal a shift in educational computing in American classrooms today.” According to the magazine, computer education no longer is defined by programming; it has emerged into a discipline that focuses on computer applications, such as word processing, spreadsheets, and database management.

The magazine notes that:

“Emphasis is increasingly being placed on the integration of computers into the curriculum, rather than confining computer use and instruction to just one programming or computer-awareness course.

“Those schools not integrating computers throughout the curriculum are tending to focus more on grades 9-12, or, less frequently, on grades 7 and 8, often with applications programs.

“To foster this new vision of an applications and curriculum-based computer literacy, teacher-training programs, both in-service and pre-service, are on the rise.

“Twenty states, six more than last year, now have some form of literacy mandate, with two states waiting on pending legislation.”

Other states, the magazine notes, are “actively and effectively implementing computer courses as the result of local initiatives.”

According to the magazine, five states and the District of Columbia require some kind of computer training for teacher certification; four states have pending legislation that would require it; and 14 states are studying it.

The states’ initiatives on certification requirements and computer literacy are listed below.

Certification Requirements

District of Columbia: All teachers must take a course in computer literacy and software evaluation. Legislated March 1983.

Vermont: Teachers in 10 subject areas are required to be able to use computers but they are not required to take a course. There is also a new endorsement for computer science at the secondary level.

Utah: May 1983, all teacher-training sites were required to give computer literacy training (c. 10 hours).

New Hampshire: All middle-school teachers must have one course in computer science. Math teachers must have more. Elementary- and secondary-certification standards are under review.

Montana: It has been required for teachers to be familiar with computers as a tool of instruction in their subject area since July 1982.

Massachusetts: All teachers must meet the Educational Technology and Media Requirements. Teachers of math and business data processing require computer training.

Certification Requirements Pending

Texas: All teachers planning to teach computer courses are required to have training (includes business education) but no others. 1985-86 standards for teachers are being revised. Likely that all teachers will be required then.

Oregon: Standards and Practices Commission proposes that all teachers, effective fall 1985, have computer training.

Louisiana: Teacher-certification requirements will be revised in Sept. 1984. From then on teachers will be required to take 15 hours of a computer lab.

Kansas: There is a proposal coming before the state board in November 1984 that new teachers have some computer classwork. After November 1984 all new computer teachers may have to be certified computer scientists.

Certification/Training Under Study

Arkansas: Teachers may need to have computer training to teach certain subjects within the next two to three years.

Delaware: The State Council on Computer Education is studying whether teachers in some subject areas should have computer training.

Florida: Anyone planning to teach computer science must have computer training. A plan to have an area of certification in computer education is likely to pass.

Kentucky: The Council on Teacher Certification is discussing the issue. Computer-science teachers require computer training.

Mississippi: No requirements except for those planning to teach computer science.

New Mexico: Proposal that teachers take nine hours of computer training before they teach a computer course. At the moment it is a local decision whether a teacher is qualified to teach computer science.

New York: The teacher-certification requirements are under review.

North Carolina: There is a recommendation that the education department require it. Business and office-management teachers are required to have computer training.

North Dakota: No requirements, but all graduating teachers in 1985-86 will probably have had computer training.

Ohio: Teacher-certification requirements are being reviewed in 1985.

Oklahoma: Teachers planning to teach computer courses are required to have computer training.

Pennsylvania: Teacher-certification requirements are under review.

Tennessee: Teachers planning to teach computer science are required to have computer training.

Virginia: Computer science and business computer applications require computer training.

Washington: Requirements will be voted on in November 1984.

State-Mandated Computer Literacy

Although many states are actively and effectively implementing computer courses as the result of local initiatives, the following 20 states (and the District of Columbia) have mandated or legislated their educational computing programs. Here is a summary of these mandates.

District of Columbia: Legislation passed in 1983 requires that every student have computer-literacy skills before the 9th grade, effective 1987. Computers are being integrated into the whole curriculum. A computer-competency test is likely in the future.

Florida: No specific course is required. Legislation passed in 1983 is designed to ensure minimum student-performance standards in computer literacy. Computer literacy will be integrated into grades 4-8 in schools where resources exist. Schools are also advised to offer courses from the 14 programs in the Computer Education Curriculum Framework, designed by the education department for grades 9-12.

Georgia: Required for the class of 1986, high-school students must elect to take a course (a third of a Carnegie unit) from either computer literacy, fine arts, or foreign language. Curriculum is generally left to local level.

Hawaii: Legislated in May 1983, the Awareness Program requires seniors to receive computer experience before they graduate. Also a K-12 program, which schools implement if they can, that involves instruction in applications, ethics, and general computer use.

Indiana: Beginning fall 1984, the Education Improvement Program requires that students have exposure to computers and be literate in their use. The form the instruction takes is left to the local schools, with department of education approval. Schools can offer a course or integrate computers throughout the curriculum.

Louisiana: Effective fall 1985, high-school students will be required to take a half-year course in computer literacy. The state will set the curriculum guidelines for the course.

Minnesota: Effective Sept. 1984, students K-12 must be exposed to Information Technology, such as word processing, spreadsheets, etc. The education department publishes an ideal curriculum but schools are free to act within certain guidelines.

New Hampshire: Starting in Sept. 1985, all secondary-school students must take a half-unit course in computer education. The curriculum will be set by the education department.

New Mexico: Effective fall 1984, all schools must offer either a computer course or integrate computers into the curriculum. Implementation and design of the requirement is to be left to the local level.

North Carolina: Students in grades 7-12 must be given the chance to use computers. Local schools can decide whether they want to have a computer-science course or implement computers throughout curriculum. The education department offers guidelines to schools.

Ohio: Schools must offer a course for grades 9-12 in which half a unit of the course deals with typing or keyboarding skills. Students are not required to take it. The design of the course and its implementation is left to the local level.

Pennsylvania: Starting Sept. 1985, schools must offer a voluntary course in computer science at the secondary level. Curriculum will be designed at the local level.

Rhode Island: Effective Sept. 1984, students in grades 9-12 must receive a half-unit course in computer literacy or pass a test equivalent. The course curriculum will be set by local schools.

South Dakota: Effective 1988, all students must get half a credit in computer education (Laboratory Computer Studies) before graduating. Program is at grades 9-10. Half a unit in computer studies will be required to get into state colleges, effective 1987. Course designed at the local level, with the department of education offering guidelines that stress word processing, databases, etc.

Tennessee: Effective fall 1985, schools must offer a course, Computer Skills Mixed, for grades 7-8 that will be required of all students. State will provide the guidelines and requirements for the course.

Texas: Effective 1985-86, students must pass a one-semester computer literacy course or a state-adopted test before 9th grade. The program is aimed at grades 7-8. The state will control the curriculum content.

Utah: Starting in fall 1984 and required for the class of 1988, Information Technology Studies requires that computers be integrated into the curriculum K-6 and that students must take two one-semester courses in grades 7-12. The program comprises three sections: 1. K-6 Awareness; 2. grades 7-9 Utilization; and 3. grades 10-12 Specialization.

Vermont: Effective September 1984, schools will have to let students have access to computers either integrated in the curriculum K-12 or in a course. The local district is responsible for its implementation, but guidelines are available from the education department.

Virginia: Required for class of 1988, students must be competent in 12 computer skills (Computer Literacy Competencies). Schools can decide how students should get these skills, whether in a course or integrated into the curriculum.

West Virginia: Effective 1984-85, computer literacy will be integrated into the middle-school curriculum and taught to students. The state sets learning outcomes, requirements that must be met by local schools.

Wisconsin: Required for class of 1989, a half-unit of computer science at grades 9-12 is mandatory. The curriculum is left to the local level to design, but the education department is writing a model curriculum. The integration of computers into the curriculum is recommended.

Source: From Electronic Learning, Oct. 1984. 1984 by Scholastic, Inc. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

A version of this article appeared in the October 24, 1984 edition of Education Week as Computer Literacy: A Survey of InitiativesFor Teachers and Students Across the States


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