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Computer science has become a new basic skill in today’s economy and Iowa wants to ensure all of our K-12 students are offered high-quality computer science education that prepares them for personal and professional success in a digital world.

Iowa’s journey began in 2017 when former Gov. Terry Branstad signed Senate File 274 into law. This bill set the goal that high schools, middle schools and elementary schools would offer high-quality computer science instruction by July 1, 2019. The bill also called for establishing state computer science standards, endorsements for computer science instruction and created a computer science professional development incentive fund.

House File 2629, signed into law in 2020 by Gov. Kim Reynolds, built on Senate File 274 by requiring, for the first time, that K-12 schools provide computer science instruction. High schools must offer at least one high-quality one-semester course starting July 1, 2022. Middle schools must provide high-quality computer science in seventh or eighth grade by July 1, 2023. Elementary schools must provide high-quality computer science in at least one grade level by July 1, 2023. Schools and the state also must develop K-12 computer science plans by July 1, 2022. In addition, the bill required the Department of Education to convene a Computer Science Work Group to make recommendations to the General Assembly by July 1, 2021, on how to strengthen computer science instruction and promote computer science to students and parents.

School districts are encouraged to allow computer science courses that meet state computer science standards and include math content to count as math credits for students who have completed other courses covering the required state math standards. In addition, a computer science course may fulfill a math requirement for graduation if the course meets state academic standards in math (for example, an integrated Algebra II/Computer Science course). Source: Computer Science Education Work Group Report

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See the Computer Science Definition webpage for a definition and an understanding of the two foundational concepts of computer literacy and digital citizenship.

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All Iowa students will engage in the concepts and practices of computer science through an intentional progression of experiences in order to prepare them to become enterprising citizens that positively impact society.

Why Our Vision Matters

  • Computer science is taught in less than 25 percent of K-12 schools across the country, and even fewer middle or elementary schools offer academically rigorous computer science experiences. Women, girls, minorities, and persons with disabilities participate in computing in very low numbers, which is a loss of talent, creativity, and innovation for the discipline and the nation.
  • Today's students are going to be entering jobs not yet created. The concepts and practices of computer science will be a component of succeeding in those jobs. Therefore, to best equip the students to survive, maintain, and advance the world left in their hands, they must have experience in computer science.
  • Computer science will continue to redefine our society in every way imaginable, and ways that are unimaginable. We can only prepare students for this transition of societal norms by exposing them to the processes of Computer Science which will cause the change.
  • Computer Science underlies most innovation today, from biotechnology to cinematography to national security. This ability to innovate with technology is important for students' future success and ability to make a difference in a global society.
  • Computer science teaches students design, logical reasoning, and problem-solving - all valuable well beyond the computer science classroom. The ability to create and adapt to new technologies is a foundational 21st-century skill.
  • Computer Science can make curriculum more relevant for students. Computer science can tap into students' interest in technology, helping them become technology innovators. Other teachers can build on these skills, allowing students to design technical solutions to problems in science, math, social studies, the arts, and literacy. This can make learning more relevant for youth, potentially improving their engagement and achievement in these areas.

Iowa's K-12 Computer Science State Plan

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Iowa’s computer science standards are the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards, which were developed by the Computer Science Teachers Association.

The standards were approved and adopted by the Iowa State Board of Education in June 2018, based on an Iowa team’s recommendation. The standards can be viewed and filtered from the CSTA Standards webpage.

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The need for computer science in careers is clear. A report from Burning Glass, a job markets analytics firm, found there were as many as 7 million job openings in 2015 in occupations that require coding skills. The report found that half of the programming openings came from industries outside of technology. The Burning Glass report indicates that there are an increasing number of businesses that rely on computer code. “A software engineer could find themselves working at [a tech company], as they could in a hospital or at an automotive manufacturer.”

Iowa industries have a need for their workforce in computer science-related occupations. From Iowa’s Future Ready Iowa Metrics That Matter, two of the high-demand jobs are Information security analysts and computer systems analysts.

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Work Groups

The Iowa Department of Education has established the Computer Science Work Group as required by House File 2629, the most recent Future Ready Iowa bill which Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law in June 2020. The work group has two charges: (1) Develop recommendations to strengthen computer science instruction, and (2) design a campaign promoting computer science to students and parents. Recommendations are due to the General Assembly by July 1, 2021.

The Iowa Department of Education also established two previous work groups in response to Senate File 274.

  • The Computer Science Education Work Group. Addressed critical issues in expanding computer science opportunities for students statewide.
  • The Computer Science Standards Review Team. Reviewed and recommended statewide standards for computer science education.
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Laws, Rules and Policy

Senate File 274 (Iowa Acts 2017, Chapter 106)

Iowa Administrative Code 281-12.11

Iowa Administrative Code 281-98

HF 2629

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These resources should not be considered recommendations. They are made available only to support the learning of schools, districts, and AEAs.

Getting Started


Computational Thinking


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