ACM has submitted comments on the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top Fund program that stress the need to ensure the level of support and attention devoted to computer science education is at least equal to that committed to other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. ACM recommends that “computer science” be added after “study in … mathematics, sciences” in the Proposed Priority #2, clarifying that a state application can support reform of existing computer science courses, introduce new computer science standards and courses, and support computer science educators. Another ACM recommendation is making Proposed Priority #2 “an absolute priority” so a state application would have to communicate how the state plans to enhance STEM education. ACM suggests the addition of a new section (A)(4) that contains selection criteria for subjects in STEM areas, including computer science, that may be excluded from the “common set of K-12 standards” but are essential to guaranteeing student competitiveness in the 21st Century. Also promoted by ACM is the inclusion of an assessment measure to the minimum proposed evidence (C)(1) “Providing alternative pathways for aspiring teachers and principals” that a state demonstrate to what degree its alternative certification program for STEM teachers, including computer science, taps nationally recognized models. ACM also says the Education Department should use federal funds to set up a clearinghouse of best practices for teacher certification in STEM fields that support the exchange of information between states about effective certification and endorsement models.
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