CS certification In Montana: ain’t going to happen soon

Due to an insatiable desire to cause myself pain and discomfort I have gotten on the “let’s try and get a CS Ed program started at my local university” horse again.  I am simply trying to get a way that Montana teachers can get a CS certification without getting a BA in CS.  At the moment the only way to get qualified in Montana to teach CS is to get the CS degree and then get a degree in education or get a Business Ed degree which includes no CS, just business apps.  The Business degree does not come with the CS certification.  Since none of our colleges offered a CS Ed program I asked the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) for what is required for a CS certification program.  They do have such a document.  The document was interesting to say the least.  There were some requirements that just seemed a little out of place for a K-12 certification.

(vi) demonstrating knowledge of and the ability to construct multi-threaded client-server applications

Uh, right.  I am not even sure what that is.  Here are some others.

(vii) demonstrating knowledge of and the ability to construct web sites that utilize complex data bases;

(viii) demonstrating knowledge of and the ability to construct artificial intelligence and robotic applications; and

(ix) demonstrating knowledge of the principles of usability and human computer interaction and be able to apply these principles to the design and implementation of human-computer interfaces;

I passed this on to my friend that teaches CS at the university.  He spends a semester teaching (vii) with his CS majors.  His comment on (viii) was “Wow”.  I kind of have an idea what (ix) is talking about but I am not sure I would want to do it at the high school level.  Some of the other requirements were to be knowledgeable with at least one of the following languages; C++, Java, C# or Ada.  Ada?  Who in the heck uses Ada as a teaching language?  How many people use Ada period?  You would think that somewhere in that list would be something appropriate for middle school kids.  A teacher knowledgeable in Scratch or Alice or Small Basic or half a dozen other possibilities would be so much more useful to a K-12 system than any of those in this list. The document goes on with needing be able to demonstrate familiarity with four high-level programming languages.  Seriously?  Four?  Somebody needs a reality check.  This is supposed to be for teaching CS K-12, not 13-16 and also not full time.  After reading these standards I really understand why the Montana colleges are so reluctant to offer the program.  There are just not enough CS teaching jobs to make building such a program worthwhile.  No pre-service teacher in their right mind would do the program and no teacher wanting to get a CS certification would have the time to commit to the number of courses this would require.

I looked through the requirement for a mathematics program.  It actually makes sense.  The math requirements list is shorter.  We are doomed by bureaucracy.  I will continue to fight the good fight but it is not looking good.  Must be a philosophical thing I have.  I want to teach kids CS, not make CS professionals.



3 Responses to “CS certification In Montana: ain’t going to happen soon”

  1. Briana Morrison Says:

    My guess is that if you look into how the certification requirements were created, you’ll find that “industry” professionals played a key part. This is the problem that we’ve battled in Georgia for years. All the standard writing committees also involve local industry professionals. They want to “stack the deck” with requirements they want for employees – without ever even thinking about whether it’s possible or “right” to teach those skills/knowledge to high school students (much less younger students). Almost all the CS certification standards I know of contain bunk. And, of course, it doesn’t help that the field is constantly changing…any list of languages that you would write today would likely be outdated in 3-5 years. And how often do you really want to re-visit those standards?

  2. Cheri Says:

    Washington state is close to getting the details done for a K-12 CS Endorsement and thinking about a K-8 Endorsement. Stay tuned for an example of what it could be and how it could possibly influence other states.

  3. gflint Says:

    When something becomes available let me know. I would be very interested.

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