Esveyde Recendiz (background), helps her daughter, Evangelin, 5, and son, Jeremy, 7, as they play educational games using an iPad in this AJC file photo. This Georgia Board of Education is considering new computer science standards for kindergartners. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Computer science for kindergartners and AP/IB test waivers considered

New computer science learning standards say “technology is everywhere,” and that even kindergartners should learn about the digitized world.

The standards, which the Georgia Board of Education agreed on Thursday to release for public comment, are in some cases a nod to the worst instincts on the Internet. They say young children, many who’ve just graduated from picture books, need to protect their privacy online and to understand that material there can be questionable.

The public posting will come ahead of an approval vote by the Board expected later this year. The standards already exist, having been adopted in March. The new rule would arrange them by age, assigning specific concepts to each grade, including those standards for kindergartners.

The emphasis on digital knowledge coincides with a broader policy push to saturate the schools with computer science.

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In March, the Georgia General Assembly passed a mandate for high school computer science courses in every school district and eventually in every high school. There was no requirement for elementary schools, but Senate Bill 108 did require “exploratory” courses in middle schools, noting that less than half a percent of high school graduates have taken computer science while thousands of jobs that require those skills go unfilled.

One of the standards proposed for kindergartners points at the underlying premise: “Understand that technology is everywhere and changes our lives.”

Concepts like privacy and questionable sourcing were to be taught in kindergarten through second grade in the first version of the standards approved in the spring, said Bryan Cox, a Department of Education official involved with the standards.

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In the latest iteration, kindergartners learn those concepts while second graders learn more sophisticated concepts, such as giving credit to online creators for their work, and creating material with an eye toward how it might be seen by others. For instance, students might be asked to make a selfie and analyze assumptions others might make about it, then revise it.

“Digital citizenship looks different in kindergarten than in second grade,” Cox said.

The board also took a preliminary vote on a new measure that would reduce the number of tests in schools.

The rule would waive the high school Milestones tests for students who pass an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate course and accompanying test, as long as it is not among the freshman courses — algebra, literature and biology —with a federally-mandated exam.

The Board also affirmed seven new charter schools approved recently by the State Charter Schools Commission: Amana Academy West Atlanta, Atlanta SMART Academy, Atlanta Unbound Academy, Collegiate Academy of Albany, D.E.L.T.A. STEAM Academy, Georgia Fugees Academy Charter School and Furlow Charter School.

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