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. There are multiple pathways to obtaining the computer science certificate that include course work, course work and/or work experience, and also 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, 2022.
What Is Computer Science?
The State Education Department (SED) has not yet developed learning standards to accompany this new teaching certificate and tenure area. In terms of the ‘content core’ in computer science, SED referenced the K-12 Computer Science Framework to identify five computer science concepts: 1) algorithms and programming, 2) computing systems, 3) data and analysis, 4) impacts of computing, and 5) networks and the internet.
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 certificate does not prevent teachers who hold other certificates from teaching aspects of these 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.
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 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, 2022.
Currently certified teachers who are or will be teaching computer science courses within the 5 years prior to September 1, 2022 can apply using TEACH for the Statement of Continuing Eligibility (SOCE) in Computer Science. 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 filed with SED on or before September 1, 2022.
NOTE: As of April 2018 the TEACH system is not set up to accept applications for the SOCE.
Changes to Part 30 Tenure Rules
Computer science will be considered a “special subject” across all grades. After September 1, 2022 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 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, 2022, 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.
Pathways to Computer Science Certification
For individuals who seek an initial certificate in computer science the regulations provide multiple pathways that include course work and/or experience.
NYS institutions of higher education may develop teacher education programs that lead to certification in computer science. Individuals possessing a bachelor’s degree or higher may pursue certification in computer science through a combination of course work and experience working as a computer scientist. Currently certified teachers seeking a computer science certificate would need to complete 12 credits in computer science and pass the Content Specialty Test in Computer Science once it is available. If the Content Specialty Test is not available at the time of application, past SED practice has been to waive the requirement.
NOTE: As of April 2018 SED’s ‘Search Certification Requirements’ web page has not been updated to reflect these pathways to certification. In addition, there are no state-approved teacher preparation programs in computer science at this time.