The current state of computer science teacher certification is very much in flux. Many states offer no CS certification courses for middle or high school teachers, and even fewer require teacher certifications before teaching CS classes.
Tech companies such as Google, Microsoft and Oracle are corporate sponsors of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), which advocates for uniform CS teacher certification policies nationwide. In its 2013 report (funded by Google), “Bugs in the System: Computer Science Teacher Certification in the U.S.,” the CSTA highlighted states in which teachers with no CS experience could teach the subject, and where no certification programs exist to train them.
Deborah Seehorn, a member and past chair of the CSTA’s board of directors, said the report’s most glaring theme is that due to confusing and conflicting regulations in all 50 states, CS teacher certification in the U.S. simply isn’t working.
“We find that CS throughout the nation might be taught by a teacher with a formal CS background, or CS might be taught by a teacher who has a different background—perhaps mathematics, science, or business—who has taken professional development courses in order to teach CS,” said Seehorn. “Some states allow any teacher to teach CS courses.”
Teacher certification in every discipline varies on a state-by-state basis, just as it does with CS teacher certification. Seehorn, who is also a business, finance and IT education consultant at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, believed that if computer science were considered a “core” subject like mathematics or science (and thus required for graduation), it would help ensure individual state adoption of CS teacher certifications. The CSTA Advocacy and Leadership Team members in every state advocate toward this end.
The CSTA provides an interactive map of states that do or do not offer or require CS teacher certifications.
How the CSTA and Google are trying to help
Founded in 2004 as a subsidiary of the Association for Computing Machinery, the CSTA provides K-12 CS teachers and students a variety of curriculum resources, professional development resources, and certifications. In 2011, it published the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards, a framework matched to the Common Core standards for teachers, administrators and policy makers to develop K-12 computer science education offerings in their own states and school systems.