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High School Curriculum

The National Science Foundation in partnership with schools, universities, State Board or Education, legislatures, and industry and non profit organizations have worked to develop CS teaching standards, curriculum and professional development options required to bring computer science educational opportunities to grades K-12.

Computers enable innovation in nearly every field. Students have significant opportunities in their chosen field with the computational thinking and problem solving skills woven into the newly developed computer science curriculum. Details on the curriculum is detailed below.

Exploring Computer Science (ECS)

Exploring Computer Science (ECS), is a K-12/University national program committed to democratizing computer science knowledge by increasing learning opportunities at the high school level for all students, with a specific focus on access for traditionally underrepresented students. View the ECS Curriculum abstract.

The ECS Curriculum is broken into the following 6 units with detailed day by day lesson plans, exercises, assessment and related resource material. There is enough material in the six units for two semesters. Districts may offer ECS as a one semester course. For a one semester course, we recommend the teacher focus the material from units 1, 2 and 4.

  • Refer to the ECS web site for additional information on each section
    • Unit 1: Human Computer Interaction (4 weeks)
    • Unit 2: Problem Solving (4 weeks)
    • Unit 3: Web Design (5 weeks)
    • Unit 4: Introduction to Programming (6 weeks)
    • Unit 5: Computing and Data Analysis (6 weeks)
    • Unit 6: Robotics (7 weeks)
  • You can download the latest curriculum on the ECS web site.

Computer Science Discoveries (CSD)

CS Discoveries is a free introductory course that empowers students to engage with Computer Science as a medium for creativity, communication, problem solving, and fun.  The course may be taught as a semester or full-year course and is recommended for ages 11-16.

Idaho Digital Learning provides professional development week long summer CS Discoveries workshop which includes four 1-day follow-on workshops throughout the academic year, and online support.

AP Computer Science Principles (CSP)

AP Computer Science Principles is a new course under development that seeks to broaden participation in computing and computer science. Development is being led by a team of computer science educators organized by the College Board and the National Science Foundation. Pilots are ongoing at the high school and college levels.  For more details review the following:

Several courses have been developed and pilot tested that incorporate the College Board’s AP Computer Science Principles Curriculum Framework.  A summary can be found at: CSP Courses.  High School teachers in the IDoCode program are being prepared to use the Mobile CSP curriculum.

Topics include: Abstraction, Algorithms, Creativity, Data, Impact, Internet and Programming.  Explore the current content materials at CS10k Community Computer Science Principles.

AP Computer Science A

The following is a overview of the AP Computer Science A course from the College Board.  “AP Computer Science A is equivalent to a first-semester, college level course in computer science. The course introduces students to computer science with fundamental topics that include problem solving, design strategies and methodologies, organization of data (data structures), approaches to processing data (algorithms), analysis of potential solutions, and the ethical and social implications of computing. The course emphasizes both object-oriented and imperative problem solving and design using Java language. These techniques represent proven approaches for developing solutions that can scale up from small, simple problems to large, complex problems.”  More details can be found on the AP Computer Science A home page on the CollegeBoard site.

ECS, CSD, and AP CSP Information at a Glance

TopicExploring Computer Science
Computer Science Discoveries
AP Computer Science Principles
Curriculum AvailableDownload complete ECS Curriculum
Computer Science Discoveries Curriculum Info
AP CSP Framework

AP Launch Fall'16
Curriculum AbstractECS Abstract linkCSP Abstract link
Target StudentGrades 9-12Grades 10-12
PrerequisiteNoneAlgebra II
Teacher Qualification and Assignment Codes (ISEE):Academic link

CTE link
Academic link

CTE link
Teacher training for "elective" creditRecommend:
CS 501
or ECS or CSD workshop
CS 501 and CS 503
or CSP workshop
Teacher training for "core" creditNAMasters CS Educational Emphasis or CS Teacher Endorsement or Teacher endorsed to teach Math or Science in Idaho
Course OfferingDistrict approval process required or course offered through IDLADistrict approval process required or course offered through IDLA
Concurrent Enrollment course @ BSUNACS 101
Concurrent Enrollment Teacher QualificationNAInstructor approved by BSU through application process

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to complete the BSU Computer Science Teacher program before I can start teaching the course material in my school?

The BSU CS teacher programs prepares High School teachers to teach Computer Science courses in their School. We encourage teachers to begin teaching Computer Science in their school before they complete the program.

The Exploring Computer Science (ECS) and CS Discoveries (CSD) courses provides a great opportunity to introduce students to computer science concepts. While the AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) course expands the students knowledge and provides opportunities for concurrent enrollment and High School Math or Science credit for graduation. These courses are designed to be engaging to a wide range of high school students.

Once you have completed the “CS 501 AP Computer Science Principles” course, you are well on your way to teach the ECS or CSD courses. Teachers may choose to supplement their CS 501 course work with hands on experience with the ECS or CSD curriculum. Idaho Digital Learning has hosted summer workshops with the ECS and CSD curriculum.

By the time you have completed “CS 503 Teaching and Learning Computer Science I” you have the foundation to teach AP CSP.

Does the Idaho Professional Standards Commission (PSC) have a computer science teacher endorsement?

Yes, Idaho does have a endorsement and the Boise State programs fulfill the endorsement requirements.

The ISEE code manual shows dual credit CS classes will count for Math/Science credits, but it doesn’t require the new CS Endorsement at this time. The Endorsement has been approved, however the PSC will make it a requirement at some time in the future.

Currently, BSU has a Masters teacher program with CS Emphasis and a Graduate Certificate in Teacher Endorsement that are approved for the endorsement.

Are the Exploring Computer Science (ECS) and AP Computer Science Principals (CSP) courses a sequence for students?

  • The ECS course is targeted to attract a broad diverse audience to explore a student’s interest in Computer Science. There are no prerequisites for this course.
  • The AP CSP course is intended to be a more in-depth discovery of Computer Science. The ECS course material would be useful to a student taking AP CSP; however, a student will be able to pick up the material after completing Algebra II. Thus ECS is not a prerequisite for AP CSP.
  • NOTE: The AP CSP course is comparable to the high school version of the CS 101 class at Boise State. 

Is the Computer Science Principles course AP accredited?  Can students who take this course receive college credit?

  • The College Board has approved CSP as a AP curriculum beginning Fall 2016.
  • BSU offers concurrent enrollment for the AP CSP course as CS 101.  Concurrent enrollment can be obtained for students successfully passing the course taught by a BSU qualified teacher.

What are the equipment requirements for ECS and AP CSP courses?

  • Each student should have access to a computing device (e.g., Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook or tablet) device with internet access. This provides a number of possibilities a school might consider:
    • Schedule existing computer lab(s) for this course.
    • A number of schools have access to a laptop cart which can be scheduled for use. This allows the course to be offered without allocating a dedicated room with devices.
    • Other schools are considering the alternative of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).
    • For larger classes, consider a hybrid model in which a schools laptop cart is used and students may choose to utilize their own device to expand the computer capacity for the class.
  • The teacher should carefully consider the computing requirements:
    • Each platform will impose different requirements on the teacher, a homogeneous environment can simplify the teachers work.
    • A keyboard and mouse are very useful when writing and editing code, thus a tablet alone may make coding more difficult affecting student interest and progress.
  • The ECS curriculum unit 6 is about Robotics.  This unit is optional, but may be an enjoyable unit to cap off the ECS course.
    • Some school districts have created technology grants – check with your district or the Idaho STEM Action Center regarding grant opportunities.
    • CTE certification provides additional opportunities for teachers to obtain money for classroom equipment.

What does the timeline for a new pilot CS course look like at the secondary level?

  • Each district has their own process, the few districts we have information on have a deadline for the initial pilot application around October 15th to pilot a new course in the Fall of the following year. Due to the differences in districts, it is best to have the Pilot course discussion with your Principal as soon as possible before October.
  • The curriculum committee will consider the proposal and provide their decision. In the Boise district, the decision is made before November 30th in preparation for upcoming student registration.
  • If the application is approved, additional information maybe submitted to the content area supervisor. This information may be similar to what the Boise districts requests by January 31st:
    • A detailed budget, including student fees
    • Course prerequisites
    • A course outline and assessment plan