The Computer Science Education Advancement Act of 2021 - Act 414 of the 93rd General Assembly (Act 414), was signed into law by Governor Asa Hutchinson on March 23, 2021. This legislation is an extension of Act 187 of 2015, which established the requirement that every high school must make a computer science course available to students.
District and school leaders should note that the 2022-2023 school year is the first year that any requirements created under this legislation take effect, which allows the 2021-2022 school year to be a planning and/or early implementation year.
Act 414 creates the following additional legislative requirements:
- Every student, beginning with the 9th grade class of 2022-2023, must earn one full high school computer science credit to graduate,
- At least four computer science courses will be approved by ADE for instruction to 8th grade students (in addition to 9-12 students),
- Digital course content aligned to state standards will be made available to schools, and
- Each high school must employ a computer science certified teacher by the 2023-2024 school year.
The following is a further explanation of each of these legislative requirements.
This new requirement, for every student to earn one full high school computer science credit to graduate (starting with the 9th grade class of 2022-2023), does not necessarily increase the number of state required credits for graduation. The Triand business rules will be updated to search for, and identify, at least one course credit on the student’s transcript which meets the requirement. Currently this is any course code that begins with 465 or 565. This credit may be earned by the student in Grades 8-12.
As a reminder, course codes that begin with 465 or 565 have been approved as Computer Science Flex Credit bearing courses. The Computer Science Flex Credit allows a student’s computer science credit to count towards the existing 4th math, 3rd science, and/or career focus credit requirements that already exist. A list of the high school courses, course codes, and required standards may be accessed at https://bit.ly/ARCSCourses.
Courses Approved for Instruction in the 8th Grade
On March 11, 2021, the Arkansas State Board of Education provided approval for any Arkansas Public School District to provide instruction and high school credit to 8th graders for nine Arkansas Computer Science and Computing courses. These nine courses may be provided to students in Grades 8-12 without any additional approval from ADE. More information can be found at: http://adecm.arkansas.gov/ViewApprovedMemo.aspx?Id=4695.
Digital Course Content
The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) Office of Computer Science has expanded the availability of digital content through partners such as the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts (ASMSA), Virtual Arkansas, and AState Upskill/Arkansas Public School Resource Center. The state will continue to expand upon these partnerships, while finding new opportunities for schools to provide high-quality digital instruction to its students. More information can be found at cs.arkansas.gov.
Certified Computer Science Teacher
A certified computer science educator must be employed in every high school in Arkansas beginning with the 2023-2024 school year.
Licensure codes that will meet this legislative requirement will include:
- the 528 standard Computer Science licensure,
- the 5013 Computer Science Technical Permit for Classified Staff,
- the 5014 Computer Science Technical Permit, and
- the 5016 Computer Science Approval Code.
To support meeting this requirement, the ADE Office of Computer Science provides many options, with no cost to the schools and participants. More information on our state provided professional development may be found at https://bit.ly/CSforARPDDes.
In addition, the ADE Office of Computer Science is establishing the 2021 Arkansas Computer Science and Computing Educator Academy (ACSCEA). Upon completion of the ACSCEA, participants may be eligible for one of the approved licensure codes. More information on the ACSCEA may be accessed at: http://adecm.arkansas.gov/ViewApprovedMemo.aspx?Id=4700.
Please view page two of the document found at http://bit.ly/CSforARCourseandTeacher for more information on the variety of pathways for individuals to earn the CS certification.
The ADE Office of Computer Science (CSforAR@ade.arkansas.gov) is available to assist Arkansas educators in determining which of our many flexible pathways to CS certification would best fit their school’s needs.
Additional information and resources, regarding Act 414, may be accessed at cs.arkansas.gov and https://bit.ly/CSforARACT2021.