New York State moving forward with CS Teacher Certification

Last April I woke up early and trekked up to Albany along with a few of my Hunter College colleagues to share our thoughts on K12 Computer Science teacher certification with the Board of Regents. We gave a presentation to the Regents Higher Education Committee and afterwards had a chance to talk with some of the Regents as well as other members of the New York State Department of Education.

I left feeling that our proposals were well received and I think everyone present - both the Hunter and NYSED contingents hoped that things would move forward on this important issue.

Fast forward to today, December 8, 2017. I was up at the crack of dawn. Driving in the dark in the snow from NYC to Albany to once again attend a Board of Regents Higher Education Committee meeting. This time, the agenda item was:

Proposed Amendments to Part 30 of the Regents Rules and Section 52.21 and Part 80 the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to a New Certification Area and Tenure Area for Computer Science

No discussion or debate this time around just the proposal. If I understand the process correctly, this should come up again at the March meeting at which point it will be voted on. If approved, it looks like we'll have a pathway towards certification for CS teachers.

I haven't had a chance to dive into the details but at the meeting a few key points came up:

  • As the proposal indicates this will be a subject area in which a teacher can be certified and be awarded tenure.
  • There will be a traditional pathway for new teachers - Bachelors / Masters degree
  • There will be an alternative pathway for people entering from the workforce
  • There will be an extension for teachers with another license so they won't have to give up tenure in their current license.
  • There will be an "individual evaluation" pathway which sounds to me like it could catch people who fall through the cracks.
  • There looks to be a sensible ramp up period - until September 2022
  • There's a grandfathering provision that looks to last 10 years.

This sounds like a smart sensible plan. Multiple pathways, shallow ramp up and provisions to protect existing teachers.

Of course, the devil is in the details. What's an approved program? Can a grandfathered teacher teach all CS classes or just intro ones? etc.

As I said, I haven't had a chance to dive into the details yet but this is very exciting.

Prior to the meeting I was chatting with a few other people attending. One, a UFT representative was very excited about the prospect. Another contingent, a group from NYSUT was very much against a new certification area. Their position was that this would create a teacher shortage because no one would have a CS license and no one would get one due to the difference in salary between teaching and the tech industry. I've already written on how I feel that this is a red herring. What shocked me though was their feeling that "we already have many non-CS teachers effectively teaching CS across the state. They're doing a great job and don't need any additional content or pedagogical knowledge." I think they're wrong and I also think that when we as a community talk about how our summer professional development is all that's needed, we undercut CS education and the teaching profession as a whole.

In any event this was a big step for New York. I tried to individually thank as many of the participants as I could for helping shepherd this along but could only speak to a few so I'll just give a blanket thank you here to the NY State Board of Regents, Board of Education and State Education department.


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