Iowa Governor Signs Computer Science Initiative

SF 274 requires the Iowa Department of Education to establish computer science standards for elementary, middle, and high school grades.

by Rod Boshart, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa / May 2, 2017 0
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(TNS) -- DES MOINES — Computer science is being added to the three ‘Rs’ in Iowa’s 21st century classrooms, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said Monday. 

Reynolds, soon to be Iowa’s next governor, filled in for Gov. Terry Branstad at the administration’s weekly news conference where she announced the governor had signed Senate File 274 into law before heading to Washington, D.C.

Reynolds used an event at Greenwood Elementary in Des Moines to highlight a Branstad-Reynolds priority that encourages computer science in every school in Iowa, establishes computer science standards and creates a computer science professional development incentive fund to prepare teachers.

“Computer science is a new basic skill in the technology-driven, 21st century economy,” Reynolds said.

“That’s why I’m thrilled that we were able to get legislation passed on a bipartisan basis this year that will help us build a strong computer science foundation for all students and strengthen Iowa’s workforce talent pipeline,” she said. “This is the ultimate goal of our Future Ready Iowa initiative to have 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce with education or training beyond high school by 2025.”

SF 274 requires the Iowa Department of Education to establish computer science standards for elementary, middle, and high school grades. The bill, passed during the 2017 legislative session, also requires the state Board of Educational Examiners to establish an endorsement in computer science for teachers and creates a Computer Science Professional Development Incentive Fund, from which school districts and teachers may receive reimbursement for various forms of professional development relating to computer science.

Also included in the legislation was a provision creating a computer science work group to identify and recommend computer science-related guidelines and potential policies for schools. The work group is required to submit a report to the governor, the state education agency and the Legislature by Nov. 1.

The bill includes language indicating the Legislature intends to appropriate $250,000 for the new incentive fund beginning in fiscal 2019.

Branstad touted computer science during the annual Condition of the State address in January and recommended a $500,000 appropriation for fiscal 2019. SF 274 provides incentives, but not a mandate for school districts to increase the number of computer science offerings at all grade levels.

©2017 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.