Policy Support

From the outset, MassCAN viewed supporting the development of new K–12 computer science (CS) education policies as central to its mission. MassCAN has been extraordinarily fortunate in having the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) play the role of lead partner in the effort to develop a range of policies to support the growth of equitable K–12 CS education in the state.

MassCAN’s early-stage policy work includes the following:

Assisting in the development of the legislation that created MassCAN. As stated in House Bill 4377:

The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative [a quasi-public state agency under the Department of Housing and Economic Development] shall serve as the state agent in support of the objectives of the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network, or MassCAN. (p. 73)

The Bill went on to define the membership of the MassCAN advisory board and to enumerate eight objectives for MassCAN, “subject to the availability of funds,” to be reported on in an Annual Report submitted to the legislature. Additionally, $1,500,000 in funding would be provided, based on a match from the private sector, to support MassCAN’s work.

Playing a major role in working with the National Center for Educational Statistics on the 2014 revision to the Secondary School Course Classification System: School Codes for the Exchange of Data (SCED). This revised edition included for the first time new course codes for Exploring Computer Science and Computer Science Principles. Since Massachusetts, along with more than 25 other states, uses SCED to electronically gather data from each school in the state, Massachusetts can now annually gather data on the number of students in these courses and their demographic breakdown.

Co-leading with DESE, and working with a multi-sector panel of educators and nonprofit and business leaders, a 15-month process to develop the 2016 Massachusetts Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS) Curriculum Framework (standards).

In addition, MassCAN’s partner Education Development Center, Inc., and Mass. DESE wrote a successful National Science Foundation grant to develop, with a dozen school districts, 18 CS curriculum modules for integration into the K–5 curriculum. A significant portion of this grant supported Mass. DESE in hiring its first full-time Computer Science Specialist. Creating this position had a number extraordinary benefits, including positioning DESE to become a major resource for all school districts.

During 2017 and 2018, MassCAN and DESE again collaborated to lead a multi-sector panel over 15 months to develop policies and procedures for teachers wishing to apply for a new Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS) 5–12 Teaching License.

Thanks to strong leadership from DESE, MassCAN and its partners were able to support policy efforts leading to progress in teacher licensure, pre-service training, and the inclusion of CS in MassCore.

For teacher licensure, MassCAN and Mass. DESE assembled a team to create pathways for teachers to gain licensure for teaching DLCS in Massachusetts in grades 5–12, including through experiential options, completion of a graduate or certificate program, or successful completion of an MTEL (Massachusetts Tests for Education Licensure). (Note: The DLCS MTEL is currently under development.) DESE also reconciled this licensure approach with two other relevant technology certifications: the Instructional Technology Specialist and the requirements for teaching Career and Technical Education. This ensures that the range of certifications cover all the needs of the variety of Massachusetts educational institutions and the range of different technologies involved. The MassCore program of study was revised in 2018 to incorporate, for the first time, CS. One or more high-quality CS courses will qualify as a replacement for a math or a science class to fulfill the MassCore graduation requirement.

Further information and updates on CS policy are available from Anne DeMallie, DLCS Content Support Lead and Computer Science and STEM Integration Specialist at Mass. DESE, who can be reached via phone (781-338-3527) or email (ademallie@doe.mass.edu). For more details, click on the accordion links below: