Computer Science Curriculum Summary for Districts

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Computer Science Curriculum Summary for Districts

The College Board and the National Science Foundation are working to expand Computer Science education nationally through the development of two new courses targeted at high schools: Exploring Computer Science and AP Computer Science Principles. The complete Exploring Computer Science course material is available today, the AP Computer Science Principles course framework is complete and the College Board has approved three programs.

Both courses are designed to teach the fundamental concepts and big ideas of computer science along with coding, and to inspire kids about computer science’s creative potential to transform society.

Boise State University has recently been awarded a 3 year $1 million dollar National Science Foundation grant for its IDoCode project to promote a sustainable model for Computer Science education in Idaho high schools. Refer to our web site for more details:

Alignment with Boise School District Initiatives (Sample school district improvement alignment statement)

Computing is ubiquitous with daily life, commerce, and just about every occupation in our modern economy. The proposed Exploring Computer Science Course seeks to expose students to the field of computer science—as it is foundational in transforming the way a student thinks about the world. By Educating Today for a Better Tomorrow, not only will the proposed course teach students about technology, it will also teach them how to think differently about any problem, and will ensure our students are better prepared to pursue some of the highest paying, fastest growing careers in America.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts one in every two STEM jobs in the country will be in computing occupations, with more than 150,000 job openings annually making it one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States. The Idaho State Board of Education and House Education Committee recognize this need and to encourage and provide students access to computer science education it recently approved a rule change which allows students to take dual credit computer science or AP computer science as a math or science credit versus being counted as an elective.

The recent ruling by the Idaho State Board of Education is intended to provide students an incentive to explore the field of computer science. To meet this burgeoning demand, Boise State University was recently awarded a 3 year $1 million dollar National Science Foundation grant for its IDoCode project to promote a sustainable model for computer science education in Idaho. As part of this grant, Boise State is offering a fully funded MS STEM Education Program with CS Emphasis. Eleven Boise School District teachers are among the first Cohort to enroll and upon completion will be highly qualified in the area of computer science.

The proposed Exploring Computer Science Course is well aligned with the Boise School District’s strategic efforts to deliver an exceptional aligned K-12 curriculum which prepares students for success in the work environment, college and university studies, and citizenship in the 21st century. The proposed course was developed in conjunction with the National Science Foundation. It is designed to teach the fundamental concepts and big ideas of computer science along with coding, and to inspire kids about computer science’s creative potential to transform society. A detailed abstract of each course follows.

Exploring Computer Science (ECS)

Course Abstract:

  • Length: One or two Semesters

    • The ECS course is designed for two semesters.

    • However, ECS can be offered as a one semester course using units 1, 2 and 4.

  • Prerequisites: None

  • Grade level: 9-12


Exploring Computer Science was developed as a yearlong course consisting of 6 units, approximately 6 weeks each. The course units draw on the curricular framework listed in Levels II and III of the ACM’s A Model Curriculum for K-12 Computer Science (2003). Assignments and instruction are contextualized to be socially relevant and meaningful for diverse students. This is an introductory course open to all interested students. Ethical and social issues in computing, and careers in computing, are woven throughout. Units utilize a variety of tools/platforms, and culminate with final projects around the following topics:

  1. Human Computer Interaction: Students are introduced to the major components of the computer, including: input, output, memory, storage, processing, software, and the operating system. Students consider how Internet elements (e.g. email, chat, WWW) are organized, engage in effective searching, and focus on productive use of email. Fundamental notions of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and ergonomics are introduced.

  2. Problem Solving: This unit covers the basic steps in algorithmic problem-solving, including the problem statement and exploration, examination of sample instances, design, program coding, testing, and verification.

  3. Web Design: This section prepares students to take the role of a developer by expanding their knowledge of programming and Web page design and applying it to the creation of Web pages, programs, and documentation for users and equipment.

  4. Programming: Students are introduced to some basic issues associated with program design and development. Students design algorithms and programming solutions to a variety of computational problems, using Scratch. Programming problems should include control structures, functions, parameters, objects and classes, structured programming and event-driven programming techniques.

  5. Computing and Data Analysis: In this unit students explore how computing has facilitated new methods of managing and interpreting data. Students will use computers to translate, process and visualize data in order to find patterns and test hypotheses.

  6. Robotics: Students apply previously learned topics to the study of robotics and work in small groups to build and program a robot to perform a required task.

The complete ECS curriculum is available through the National Science Foundation, download it at:

Equipment Requirement:

  • Students will require connections to the internet and access to a computing device.

AP Computer Science Principles (CSP)

Course Abstract:

  • Length: Two Semesters

  • Prerequisites: Algebra II

  • Grade level: 10-12


Computer Science: Principles is a new course that seeks to broaden participation in computing and computer science. Development was led by a team of computer science educators organized by the College Board and the National Science Foundation. Pilots are ongoing at the high school and college levels. Advanced Placement credit will be available for this course. The AP Computer Science Principles course launches fall 2016 with the AP test available for May 2017.

  1. Creativity: Computing facilitates exploration and the creation of computational artifacts and new knowledge that help people solve personal, societal, and global problems.

  2. Abstraction: Abstraction reduces information and detail to facilitate focus on relevant concepts. A combination of abstractions built upon binary sequences can be used to represent all digital data. Multiple levels of abstraction are used in computation. Models and simulations use abstraction to raise and answer questions.

  3. Data and Information: Data and information facilitate the creation of knowledge which drives change across many disciplines – from art to business to science. People use computers and computation to translate, process, and visualize raw data and to create information and knowledge. Computational manipulation of information requires consideration of representation, storage, security and transmission.

  4. Algorithms: Algorithms are used to develop and express solutions to computational problems. The development, use and analysis of algorithms are some of the most fundamental aspects of computing. An algorithm is a precise sequence of instructions for a process that can be executed by a computer. They are evaluated both analytically and empirically.

  5. Programming: Programming and the creation of software has changed our lives. Programming is a creative process that enables problem solving, human expression and creation of knowledge. It uses mathematical and logical concepts and is facilitated by abstractions. Programs are developed and used by people, and are written to execute algorithms.

  6. Internet: The internet and the systems built on it have had a profound impact on society. Computer networks support communication and collaboration. The principles of systems and networks that helped enable the Internet are also critical in the implementation of computational solutions.

  7. Global Impact: Computation has changed the way people think, work, live and play. Our methods for communicating, collaborating, problem solving, and doing business have changed and are changing due to innovations enabled by computing. Many innovations in other fields are fostered by advances in computing.

The AP CSP course launches in Fall 2016.  You can track progress at: and

Equipment Requirement:

  • Students will require connections to the internet and access to a computing device.

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