ISTE releases first-ever multi-disciplinary K-12 STEM guidelines

The competencies are intended to give all K-12 teachers, regardless of subject, a base for instructing computer science.
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

For the first time, the International Society for Technology in Education is providing guidelines for all K-12 teachers interested in STEM and computer science via its new computational thinking competencies — standards meant for educators that don’t normally use computers in their lesson plans.

The new standards establish positive behaviors and roles for teachers interested in computational thinking, or learning through the use of computing. Teachers should play the role of a learner, leader, collaborator, designer and facilitator in the classroom, per the new standards. The competencies encourage educators to stay up to date on computer science tools and resources while fostering an inclusive and creative curriculum, all qualities that complement the Computer Science Teachers Association’s K-12 computer science standards for students .

The guidelines were first announced back in June , when ISTE published an initial draft titled “ISTE Standards for Computer Science Educators.” The draft reflected the standards’ first update in six years — a “new vision for computer science teaching,” said Pat Yongpradit, chief academic officer at and partner with the project.

ISTE partnered with, the Computer Science Teachers Association and other stakeholders to design the competencies, and maintained an open comment period until July. The recently released document — intended to help “educators of all disciplines and with students of all ages” — reflects a shift towards a multi-disciplinary nature of computer science in K-12 classrooms.


“It’s not just computer science teachers who are teaching computer science,” Yongpradit told EdScoop in June, “but also educators from other subjects might be incorporating computer science.”

ISTE regularly updates standards for more than just educators — in June, administrators were given resources to reinforce digital learning in their schools and districts. In 2017, educators were given a set of guidelines to best implement tech-based learning into their classrooms, and the year prior, ISTE released standards for students to best take advantage of a digital-learning based curriculum.

“The ISTE Computational Thinking Competencies are designed to prepare students with the skills needed to solve problems of the future,” ISTE CEO Richard Culatta said in a statement. “The CT Competencies provide a framework to help teachers leverage computational thinking across all areas of the curriculum, not just in CS classes.”

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