OSPI NEWS RELEASE: Dorn Adopts Computer Science Standards

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Randy I. Dorn


Dorn Adopts Computer Science Standards


OLYMPIA—DECEMBER 8, 2016—State Superintendent Randy Dorn today formally adopted Washington state’s first set of computer science standards.


The signing took place at Tumwater High School. Gov. Jay Inslee and State Superintendent-elect Chris Reykdal also were in attendance.


“It’s crucial that today’s and tomorrow’s students are not only consumers of computer science, but also makers,” Dorn said. “What that means is that they will not only be able to use the latest and greatest mobile app, they will be able to create the latest and greatest mobile app.”


Dorn added that because many jobs in the future will require computer science knowledge, our students will fail to get those jobs without a solid education.

Gov. Inslee also noted the economic importance of computer science education. “We can have a state where every student has access to the education and skills that set them up for the best-paying jobs in the country - jobs our tech companies can’t hire fast enough for,” he said. “I’m excited to work with OSPI to make that happen.”

The adoption process for the standards followed that of other learning standards. After a panel of statewide experts created a draft – using national computer science standards as a guide – the public was invited to comment period. Finally, a bias and sensitivity review ensured that the standards are culturally sensitive and relevant.


The standards build from grade to grade, which means that fourth-grade standards can’t be mastered until after third-grade standards. As a few examples, the standards expect that students understand:

  • the difference between a tablet and desktop computer (K-2),
  • how different file formats (e.g., music files) represent tradeoffs on quality vs. file size (6-8) and
  • issues that affect the speed of computer networks (11-12).

Dorn said that another important aspect of the standards is their approach to computational thinking. In essence, computational thinking involves creating a solution to a problem. The process of creating solutions has applications to all subjects, he said.

“One key term in computer science is algorithms,” he said. “Algorithms are simply a set of instructions. To be efficient, a chef who has to make 50 salads in a night must have a process for making them all. That process is an algorithm.”

Andy Shouse, Chief Program Officer of Washington STEM, said that the standards will help students from every part of the state. “With the computer science standards as a guide, we can ensure students and teachers focus on the skills needed to be prepared for careers and life,” he said. “We’re ready to work throughout the state to ensure students from Spokane to Selah to Seattle benefit from a high quality computer science education.”

The standards adoption is part of a 4-5-year implementation process. During the next 6-9 months, OSPI will work with partners to identify short- and long-term needs of districts and to bring together best practices in integrating computer science into the classroom.



Nathan Olson
OSPI Communications Manager

About OSPI

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state's 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability.

Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at 360-725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.