RICHMOND — Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed legislation Monday that calls for the state’s board of education to incorporate computer science, computational thinking and computer coding into Standards of Learning curriculum.
The measure, signed at Franklin Military Academy in Richmond, was passed unanimously by both the Virginia Senate and the House of Delegates earlier this year and is designed to help prepare students for technology jobs.
McAuliffe said at a ceremony that included the official bill being delivered to him by a robot that it is critical for students to leave school prepared for a job market that demands they have specific skills if they expect to be hired.
But, he said, it also is important for the state to have prepared students as it competes for high-tech jobs.
“We will be sending a clear message … to all the businesses around the globe that we’re very serious about this, computer science, and what we need to do to build those skill sets of the future,” McAuliffe said. “States talk about it. We’re taking action today to get that done.”
Moving forward, the state’s board of education will incorporate computer science-related material into the SOL curriculum and current requirements.
Local school boards also will develop computer science curriculum for students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
The new standards do not add requirements to the curriculum or replace any subjects, said Del. Thomas Greason, R-Loudoun, the bill’s sponsor.
Standards are updated regularly by the board of education, and the computer science content will be incorporated into the curriculum when the reviews occur. Greason said it will take about two years to develop and implement the new standards.
Something else that will need to be worked on during that time is getting professional development for teachers.
Adding computer science to the SOL curriculum is part of an effort to change education in the state that is aimed at better preparing students for the modern job market, state education officials say.
Last week, McAuliffe signed a bill that directs the Virginia Department of Education to create a “Profile of a Virginia Graduate” to identify what skills students need in high school and then change statewide graduation requirements to meet the expectations laid out in the profile.
The state board is currently working to create the profile and requirements. The plan is for that to be completed by fall 2017 and for schools to implement the new approach in time for the freshman class of 2018.
Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton said the board will work to implement the new state graduation and SOL requirements while also meeting new federal assessment and school evaluation requirements from the Every Student Succeeds Act.
“The timing of all that is intertwined,” Holton said. “All of these things work together.”