The NYS Board of Regents adopted regulations in March 2018 that created a classroom teaching certificate in computer science and a corresponding tenure area. The regulations designate the computer science certificate as part of the ‘special subjects’ tenure area. The regulations also identified multiple pathways to obtain the computer science certificate that include course work, course work and/or work experience, and a ‘grandfathering’ provision for those teachers currently teaching computer science courses. Teachers who are currently teaching computer science courses can apply for a Statement of Continuing Eligibility (SOCE) up to September 1, 2023.
What Is Computer Science?
As per the March 2018 Regents item: “Through these concepts, students [will] engage in a variety of activities including: creating prototypes that use algorithms to solve computational programs; comparing interactions between application software, system software, and hardware layers; refining computational models based on data; evaluating the ways that computing impacts social and economic practices; and comparing various security measures of a computing system. These types of activities immerse students in creative problem solving where they learn how to identify and present problems that computers can solve and how computers can solve them.”
The Computer Science and Digital Fluency Learning Standards (nysed.gov) were developed between 2018 and 2020 and approved by the NYS Board of Regents in December 2020. The Standards focus on five concepts: Impacts of Computing; Computational Thinking; Networks & Systems Design; Cybersecurity; and Digital Literacy. Each concept contains two or more sub-concepts and within the sub-concepts are a number of standards. The standards are grouped into grade-bands: K-1, 2-3, 4-6, 7-8, and 9-12.
Transition to the Computer Science Certificate
SED policy regarding the teaching of computer literacy (computer science) prior to these new regulations has been that teachers holding a valid teaching certificate at the appropriate grade level could teach computer science courses based on local determinations regarding their expertise in computer science. The new regulations outline a process for “grandfathering” teachers currently teaching computer science courses, as well as those who begin teaching computer science courses between now and September 1, 2023.
Computer Science Statement of Continued Eligibility (SOCE)
Currently certified teachers who are or will be teaching computer science courses within the 6 years prior to September 1, 2023 can apply using TEACH for the Statement of Continuing Eligibility (SOCE) in Computer Science (nysed.gov). The SOCE allows the teacher to continue to teach computer science courses in the same school district, board of cooperative educational services, or other school that employed such individual when the statement of continued eligibility was issued. The SOCE is valid for a period of 10 years from the date it is issued. Applications for the Statement of Continued Eligibility must be submitted on TEACH on or before September 1, 2023.
The computer science certificate does not prevent teachers who hold other certificates from teaching aspects of these Computer Science & Digital Fluency concepts in other subject area courses and in elementary schools. In addition, career and technology education (CTE) teachers will continue to be able to teach computer-related and technology courses in CTE programs.
Pathways to Computer Science Certification (other than SOCE)
For individuals who seek an initial certificate in computer science other than the SOCE, the following pathways are available:
- Approved program pathway: an individual pursuing a bachelor’s degree in an educator preparation program leading to an initial certificate in computer science or a master’s degree in an educator preparation program leading to an initial computer science certificate.
- Individual evaluation pathway: an individual with a bachelor’s degree or higher and at least 12 credits of coursework in computer science may pursue this pathway upon meeting pedagogy and student teaching requirements.
- Industry experience: individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree or higher and also have had three or more years of experience working in a position that requires the skills of a computer scientist may pursue this pathway and would need to complete specific pedagogical coursework.
- Additional certificate pathway: individuals who already hold a teaching certificate may pursue an additional certificate in computer science by meeting specific computer science coursework.
NOTE: As of May 2021, the TEACH system can only accept applications for the Computer Science certificate from applicants who are currently enrolled in or have completed a registered NYS educator preparation program. Applications for the SOCE and applications using options 2-4 above cannot be submitted at this time.
Changes to Part 30 Tenure Rules
Computer science will be considered a “special subject” across all grades. After September 1, 2023 an educator who was previously appointed tenure in a different tenure area may choose to continue to receive credit toward tenure and seniority rights in their previous tenure area while devoting a substantial portion (40% or more) of their time to teaching computer science courses, or they may choose to change their tenure area to receive credit and accrue seniority rights in the special subject tenure area of computer science.
For educators assigned/appointed on or after September 1, 2023, who are devoting a substantial portion (40% or more) of their time teaching computer science, probationary appointments and appointments in tenure will be made in accordance with normal tenure rules. Specifically, these teachers must be appointed tenure in the special subject tenure area: computer science.