We are proud to share that the White House supported PLTW by announcing the expansion of our high school computer science (CS) program. This recognition highlights the leading role PLTW is taking in expanding access to CS offerings in K-12 schools. Read the full text of the announcement and see the article on PLTW.org.

We would like to share additional details with our network about the expansion of our CS program. As an organization whose mission is to empower students to thrive in an evolving world, we strive to provide students with industry-relevant experiences and create programs that reflect the needs of students and schools. We seek and incorporate feedback on an ongoing basis from our education and industry partners in order to advance and refine our high school computer science program roadmap.

We are excited to share the following updates:

  • We plan to extend two semester-long courses to full-year courses:
    • Cybersecurity: an advanced specialization course with full release planned for 2018-19 school year
    • Introduction to Computer Science: More information on timing will be available soon. Note that no course changes will take place in the 2016-17 school year, and this change impacts only the high school program
  • We have renamed two courses that align to AP frameworks: Computer Science and Software Engineering will be called “Computer Science Principles” and Computer Science Applications will be called “Computer Science A.” By changing the names we hope to make it easier for schools to implement PLTW programs and students to select their courses
  • We are strengthening the alignment of our CS program to build skills that are in higher demand by focusing on development of the one-year Cybersecurity course and removing the Artificial Intelligence, Simulation & Modeling, and capstone courses from the original development schedule (outlined more than three years ago). Based on input from our partners, cybersecurity is the most widely applicable specialization content area for students to learn

With these changes, schools that offer PLTW Computer Science will have access to four full-year courses: Introduction to Computer Science, Computer Science Principles, Computer Science A, and Cybersecurity.   

These computer science program updates are just the beginning of several exciting announcements forthcoming. Please mark your calendars for office hours to learn more:

  • Feb. 9 and 10 at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Frequently asked questions and answers

Why extend specialization courses to a full-year?
We are listening to your feedback and making improvements. Educators have shared with us that semester-long courses are challenging for student and school schedules. Full-year courses help schools create a more cohesive pathway for students and prevent gaps that administrators or teachers are challenged to fill with other content.

Why focus on Cybersecurity and remove Artificial Intelligence and Simulation & Modeling?
Cybersecurity makes headlines daily and can affect us in very personal ways. A survey released in May 2014 the Ponemon Institute, sponsored by IBM, showed that personal information of almost half of the nation's adults — 110 million Americans — was hacked in the previous 12 months. Businesses across sectors are grappling with how to protect their customers, employees, and data – for example, stakeholders in the financial services industry report that cyber risk is a top concern, even above geopolitical risk and impact of new regulations.

This means that the cybersecurity career field is fast-growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected the demand for information security analysts will increase by 37 percent between 2012 and 2022. Yet industry demand is quickly outpacing supply of workers with the necessary skills and expertise. In a recent article, Yahoo’s chief information officer Alex Stamos described it as “pretty much impossible to hire” people with the background in cybersecurity that his company needs.

This presents an opportunity for today’s students. In order to develop the course, we are working closely with industry experts like the Security Advisor Alliance, a cybersecurity nonprofit founded and guided by Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs). The governing board of the SAA includes technology leaders from companies such as GE, PNC, Optiv, Starbucks, MasterCard, Express Scripts, and Forrester Research.

Why rename two courses?
We wrote curriculum for the Computer Science and Software Engineering course to align to the course framework for the AP Computer Science Principles course. Similarly, we wrote the Computer Science Applications course curriculum to align to the Computer Science A course framework.

By changing the names we hope to make it easier for schools to select and implement PLTW curriculum for their AP courses and for students to select the course. In addition, renaming the courses is another signal of importance of both college and career-readiness for all students, a key objective of the AP+PLTW partnership.

We are working with the College Board to officially rename our courses. The name change will take effect for courses beginning in the 2016-17 school year, and you will see updates to materials and the website in the coming months.

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