The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Adoption of 2016 Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS) Standards

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
June 17, 2016

At the meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on June 28, 2016, I will ask the Board to vote to adopt the 2016 Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS) Standards. This request follows revisions that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has made to the standards based on public comment gathered from February through April 2016. As we have discussed previously, use of these standards is voluntary for school districts.

Survey to Solicit and Collect Public Comment

The Board initially discussed the proposed DLCS standards in December 2015 and voted to solicit public comment on the proposed standards in January 2016. The Department then distributed a survey for all interested parties to submit public comment, which opened on February 5, 2016 and closed on April 8, 2016. Data was gathered about each standard and the broad goals related to the design of the standards. The Department received 56 substantive responses from individuals and groups of educators. Department staff worked with the DLCS Review Panel — including teachers and school administrators, higher education faculty, and representatives from business and other organizations — to review all the comments, revise the standards as needed, and produce the enclosed 2016 Massachusetts Digital Literacy and Computer Science Framework, incorporating the revised DLCS standards.

Summary of Public Input
Survey participants indicated that key goals have been achieved in the DLCS standards:

Additional External Review

Since January 2016, the Department also has been communicating with other states and computer science organizations (particularly and the Computer Science Teachers Association [CSTA]) that are also working on the K-12 Computer Science Frameworks. This has led to additional external review and comment on the standards and informed additional edits, such as on standards relating to human and technology interaction and differentiating capabilities to complete a task or process. Our contributions to the review of their framework, along with input from across the country, aligned their framework more with Massachusetts' DLCS standards. Massachusetts is ahead of most other states in developing computer science standards and is an innovator in explicitly integrating those with standards for digital literacy.

Revisions Made Based on Public Comment

The edits made to the January 2016 public comment version of the DLCS standards are not substantive changes to the overall set, but rather refine and clarify particular standards. Edits included several reductions (removing a concept from the standards that was represented in another strand), additions (adding or strengthening an important concept), and moving standards across grades to better align with current Massachusetts ELA, Science, and Mathematics Frameworks.

Among other changes, the Department:

Additional comments received through the survey were more focused on implementation resources and needs, such as requests for a resource showing explicit connections to ELA and mathematics standards (standard by standard), financial support for programs and curriculum, and educator professional development. Further details on implementation support can be found in the Anticipated Next Step section below.

The changes also address two issues that Board members raised during the initial discussion of the proposed standards in December 2015:

  1. Ensure that the standards include the legal consequences of personal behavior (e.g., sexting) and the permanence of digital communications.

    Edits to address this issue were included in the Computing and Society (CAS) strand starting in elementary school:

    3-5.CAS.a.3Identify appropriate and inappropriate uses of technology when posting to social media, sending e-mail or texts, and browsing the Internet.
    3-5.CAS.a.7Explain that if you encounter cyberbullying or other inappropriate content, you should immediately tell a responsible adult (e.g., teacher, parent).

    Making it explicit in middle school:
    6-8.CAS.a.3Explain the connection between the persistence of data on the Internet, personal online identity, and personal privacy.
    6-8.CAS.a.4Describe and use safe, appropriate, and responsible practices (netiquette) when participating in online communities (e.g., discussion groups, blogs, social networking sites).
    6-8.CAS.a.5Differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate content on the Internet.
    6-8.CAS.b.4Identify the legal consequences of sending or receiving inappropriate content (e.g., cyberbullying, harassment, sexting).

    Reinforcing it in high school:
    9-12.CAS.a.3Explain safe practices when collaborating online, including how to anticipate potentially dangerous situations.
    9-12.CAS.b.2Identify computer-related laws and analyze their impact on digital privacy, security, intellectual property, network access, contracts, and consequences of sexting and harassment.
    9-12.CAS.b.3Discuss the legal and ethical implications associated with malicious hacking and software piracy.

  2. Provide guidance on pathways for students who wish to pursue a career in computer science.

    The Review Panel added to and strengthened the post-secondary commentary in the introductory section of the framework:

    Preparation for Career Options
    Providing consistent exposure to curricula based on the standards during grades K-8 will create the necessary foundation for college- and career-focused learning in grades 9-12. In grades K-8, the standards afford opportunities to: 1) integrate core concepts and practices across the curriculum; and 2) more deeply explore DLCS practices in contexts, such as introductory programming, data collection and analysis, robotics, etc., in specific subject areas or as exploratory courses. In grades 9-12, the standards provide opportunities for students to gain proficiency and incorporate substantive expectations of the College Board's Computer Science Principles, the widely recognized benchmark for post-secondary preparation. With a strong foundation provided by the 2016 DLCS standards, students will be well prepared for a variety of civic, college, and career options that include the use and creation of technology. (2016 Massachusetts Digital Literacy and Computer Science Curriculum Framework, p.2)

    The focus of the standards remains on the need of these standards for all students for civic, college, and career opportunities. The standards form an excellent foundation for entry into computer science careers but are not intended to be the sole preparation for students pursuing a career in the field. The Review Panel explored but did not support the inclusion of a more expansive career pathway discussion; Department staff support this decision.

Anticipated Next Steps

The Department will publish the full 2016 Massachusetts Digital Literacy and Computer Science Curriculum Framework following a Board vote to adopt the 2016 DLCS Standards. The Framework includes the standards and a variety of additional guidance and supporting materials. A draft of the full Framework, with the final standards included, is attached for your review. The Department expects to publish and post the completed 2016 DLCS Curriculum Framework in the summer. At that point, the Department will distribute copies to the Joint Committee on Education for their information, and make the Framework available electronically to schools and other interested parties for their use in improving curriculum and instruction in digital literacy and computer science starting in the 2016-17 school year.

To support district implementation of the DLCS standards, the Department will continue to collaborate with Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN) on professional development, course development, and implementation. The Department is also partnering with the Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) on a National Science Foundation STEM+C Design and Development grant. This $2.1 million award (over three years) aims to develop elementary school curriculum modules that integrate computational thinking in mathematics and science lessons in grades 1-6.

The Department thanks all of the individuals and groups that provided input, reviewed comments, and suggested edits to the standards, and all of the people who contributed to the various sections of the Framework. This effort included the voices of many representatives from across the state.

Jake Foster, Director of STEM, Ken Klau, Director of Digital Learning, and other members of the Department who have been engaged in this work, will be at the Board meeting to answer your questions.


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DLCS Standards Review Panel Members
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Tracked Changes Version of the Massachusetts Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards (DLCS) Showing Public Comment from January to April 2016
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2016 Digital Literacy and Computer Science Curriculum Framework, which incorporates the Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards (DLCS) for adoption