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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). For more details, click on the accordion links below:
(This section draws on materials developed by Anne DeMallie, Computer Science Lead at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education)
With the approval of the 2016 DLCS Curriculum Framework, Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS) became a core subject. The DLCS Teacher License is available to all current teachers interested in teaching DLCS courses, whether they intend to teach DLCS course greater than 20% time, or exclusively, in grades 5-12. This license does not affect an existing license and teachers may continue to work in their current role(s) under their existing License: and any waivers in effect at the local level remain in place.
In the spring of 2016, DESE invited MassCAN to collaborate in selecting a multi-sector 33 member, Grade 5-12 DLCS Teaching License Panel to make recommendations regarding licensure requirements to the Board of Education. This Panel met 15 times over two years and was facilitated by DESE and MassCAN staff.
The first task of the work group was to review the K-12 DLCS Curriculum Framework and distill the distinctive subject matter knowledge requirements (SMKs) for the Grade 5-12 License. Upon completion of this task the DLCS SMKs went through a public review process and were then approved by the DESE Licensure Office and are now listed in the Subject Matter Knowledge (SMK) Guidelines.
Unlike almost all other subject areas there is no MTEL (Massachusetts Tests for Education Licensure) for DLCS yet. Thus, the primary way for a teacher to earn a DLCS License is through the Competency Review process.
Currently, there are three pathways to this 5-12 DLCS License:
- Competency Review Option 1 Process is described in more detail below,
- Competency Review Option 2 process is the Structured Guidance and Support Process, which is a based assessment for teacher Licensure, and
- the DLCS Initial Licensure program through an approved Sponsoring Organization (i.e. university teacher preparation programs, professional development provider).
The Competency Review Guide provides an overview of the process and instructions on uploading evidence of a teacher’s subject matter knowledge to the Educator Licensure and Renewal (ELAR) portal. This information is subsequently reviewed by a licensure specialist who makes the final determination. Each competency review SMK requirement can be covered (minimum of 10 hours) using any combination of the following evidence options: higher education coursework, professional development, mentored employment, an approved assessment (The Education Testing Service Praxis #5651 test covers subject matter knowledge requirements 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12) and/or school-based teaching experience.
To assist competency review candidates the DLCS Licensure Panel and DESE have developed the following resources (available from Anne DeMallie, DLCS Content Support Lead and Computer Science and STEM Integration Specialist (781-338-3527 and email@example.com):
DLCS Course Code and DLCS 5-12 Teacher SMK Coverage Crosswalk This crosswalk provides a color coded highlighting of the Subject Area Course description that identifies that from none to several SMK(s) can be met by a virtue of teaching a particular course.
Similarly, the PD Gap Analysis shows what SMK(S) are covered by various Computer Science Professional Development programs, so that a teacher missing a one or a few SMKs can determine if an available PD program can expedited the Competency Review process.
The 5-12 DLCS Licensure panel developed, and DESE approved, both a Rubric for the Teacher of DLCS License and a Potential Sources of Evidence Chart for the 5-12 DLCS License to support the teacher candidate and the Supervising Practitioner for the 150 hour performance based experience under the Structured Guidance and Support Guidelines
Contact Anne DeMallie or the DESE Licensure Office to learn which sponsoring organizations are working with DESE to develop Master’s Degree or Certification programs for DLCS 5-12 licensure.
In the Fall of 2018, Anne DeMallie at DESE will be exploring with Pearson a timeline for developing a 5-12 DLCS Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) exam and, will convene a panel to advise the process of collaborating with Pearson to develop the MTEL. Once the MTEL is developed for the 5-12 DLCS Teacher License, the Competency Review Process will sunset.
At the December 2016 Board of Education meeting, the Board eliminated the Instructional Technology Teaching License and re-adopted the Instructional Technology Specialist License which had been replaced by the IT Teaching License in 2011.
The following are the Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval Regulations for the IT Specialist License:
- Initial License.
Prerequisite: Possession of a teacher license and at least one year of employment as a teacher or in an educational role accepted by the Department.
Passing score on the Communication and Literacy test.
Completion of an approved educator preparation program for the Initial license as set forth in 603 CMR 7.03 (2) (a).
- Professional License.
For candidates who do not hold any Professional teacher license, complete requirements set forth in 603 CMR 7.04 (2) (c). For candidates who hold at least one Professional teacher license, complete three years of employment under the Initial Instructional Technology Specialist license.
The primary difference between the old ITS License and the new License is that the new license requires that all preparation programs address the grade K-8 Computer Science SMKs.
The DESE office will be aware of programs preparing candidates for the revised ITS License.
K-12 Subject Matter Knowledge requirements (SMKs) were developed by the DLCS Licensure Panel for the Elementary and Early Childhood Licenses as well as the new grade 5-12 DLCS License and, were approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in February 2018. The Elementary and Early Childhood grades K-5 SMKs were promoted to crosscutting concepts for all initial teacher license programs in August 2018. These SMKs are now included in the newly revised (August 2018) DESE Subject Matter Knowledge (SMK) Guidelines (see above). Educator Preparation program providers are given 18 months (until March 2020) to align their programs to the new regulations. Teacher Licensure degree programs in Massachusetts are approved by the Office or Educator Preparation in the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
These crosscutting requirements are highlighted in the Guidelines as follows:
“Crosscutting SMK requirements. There is a set of core knowledge that educators across multiple license areas must know in order to effectively support student learning. These crosscutting SMKs should be covered in Initial licensure programs and should be assessed by approved preparation providers. These SMKs are outlined at the beginning of the requirement section for each type of license, where applicable...
There are a few subject-matter expectations that apply to multiple initial teacher subject and grade span license areas. They are as follows:
For all Pre-K—12 educators licensed at the initial teacher level, it is expected that they have the knowledge needed to:
b. Apply basic principles and concepts for digital literacy and computer science in Computing and Society, Digital Tools and Collaboration, and Computing Systems as outlined in the 2016 Digital Literacy Computer Science Framework.”
Additionally, MA DESE is also working with interested preparation programs to approve Certification or Master’s Degree programs to prepare existing teachers for the new Grade 5-12 DLCS Teaching License. The first preparation program has been approved as of September of 2018.
Over the past year MassCAN worked closely with MA DESE staff and the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents to host meetings and suggest interviews to gather a range of input to guide the development of a recommendation for a rigorous computer science course to substitute for either one of MassCore’s four mathematics courses or one of the three Lab-based science courses.
On June 18, 2018 the Board of Higher Education, and on June 26, 2018 the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted motions to allow a rigorous computer science course to substitute for a math or science course.
Currently, the Department of Higher Education is coordinating a faculty review to determine modifications to the computer science courses to allow substitution for a chemistry or physics course, so that students can make the substitution for the 2018-2019 school year.
For updated information click here http://www.doe.mass.edu/ccr/masscore/