TRENTON — Legislation sponsored by Senator Richard J. Codey and Senator Shirley K. Turner that will help New Jersey’s students compete in tomorrow’s digital economy by requiring new statewide computer science guidelines that go beyond the basic understanding of how to operate and use computers received final legislative passage last week and now awaits action by the governor.
“As technology advances and our economy grows more reliant on digital experts, it is important that students are equipped with a solid educational foundation that will allow them to compete in tomorrow’s market. This foundation needs to start in middle and high school,” said Codey (D-Essex, Morris). “The federal government estimates that there will be 4.2 million jobs in the computing and information technology fields in the United States by 2020. We need to position New Jersey’s students by ensuring they are learning the right sets of skills to be prepared to get these jobs.”
The bill (S-2032) would require the State Board of Education to develop rigorous curriculum guidelines in computer science at the middle and high school levels and would require school districts to incorporate these guidelines into the existing Technology and Science Core Curriculum Content Standards in the school year following their development.
The curriculum will encompass the study of computers and algorithmic processes and include the study of computing principles, computer hardware, software design, computer applications, and the impact of computers on society.
“STEM education is the way of the future, and in order to prepare New Jersey’s students for competing in tomorrow’s global economy, we need to improve our curriculum standards to include courses in highly demanded subjects such as computer science,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon, Mercer). “Exposing students from as early as sixth grade to their senior year of high school will give them a deeper knowledge of the fundamentals of computing, improve their critical thinking skills, and will serve them in the long run throughout their adult lives.”
Under the bill, the State Board of Education would develop guidelines in computer science that will:
• Prepare students to understand the nature of computer science and its place in the modern world;
• Foster an understanding that computer science interweaves concepts and skills;
• Enable students to use computer science skills, primarily computational thinking, in their problem-solving activities in other subjects;
• Complement information technology and Advanced Placement computer science curricula in school districts in which they are currently offered.
The bill was approved by the Senate with a vote of 35-1 and the Assembly with a vote of 73-2.