MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE

2021 Regular Session

To: Education

By: Representatives Felsher, Bennett, Creekmore IV, Deweese, McCarty, Owen

House Bill 633

AN ACT TO CREATE THE MISSISSIPPI COMPUTER SCIENCE AND CYBER EDUCATION EQUALITY ACT; TO AUTHORIZE AND DIRECT THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO IMPLEMENT A MANDATORY K-12 COMPUTER SCIENCE CURRICULUM BASED ON THE MISSISSIPPI COLLEGE AND CAREER-READINESS STANDARDS FOR COMPUTER SCIENCE, WHICH INCLUDES INSTRUCTION IN, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, COMPUTATIONAL THINKING, CYBER-RELATED, PROGRAMMING, CYBER SECURITY, DATA SCIENCE, ROBOTICS AND OTHER COMPUTER SCIENCE AND CYBER-RELATED CONTENT; TO PRESCRIBE MINIMUM COMPONENTS OF THE CURRICULUM AT EACH GRADE LEVEL; AND TO PROVIDE FOR TEACHER TRAINING AS NEEDED AT ALL GRADE LEVELS.

     BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:

     SECTION 1.  This act shall be known, and maybe cited, as the "Mississippi Computer Science and Cyber Education Equality Act."

     SECTION 2.  The Mississippi Legislature finds that:

          (a)  Education in computer science is a critical need for the students of Mississippi for the twenty-first century;

          (b)  More than half of high schools in Mississippi do not teach a computer science course; and

          (c)  The logical thinking skills taught by computer science are very valuable in many noncomputer science jobs, as technology has become embedded in most professions.

     SECTION 3.  As used in this act, the following terms shall have the meaning ascribed in this section:

          (a)  "Computer science" means the study of computers, algorithmic processes, coding, and logical thinking, including computer principles, their hardware and software designs, their implementation and their impact on society.

          (b)  "Computer science courses" means high school and middle school courses that teach computer science as stand-alone implementations; and elementary curriculum that provides instruction in computer science as stand-alone implementations or embedded in other subjects and focuses on how to create and understand technology, rather than simply using technology.

          (c)  "Offer" means providing instruction at the elementary level with licensed teachers, and at the high school and middle school level as a course taught by a computer science teacher:

              (i)  Who is onsite at the physical location of the school; or

              (ii)  Who is not onsite at the physical location of the school but conducts the course through virtual means with a proctor onsite at the physical location of the school.

     SECTION 4.  (1)  The State Department of Education is authorized and directed to implement K-12 computer science curriculum based on the 2018 Mississippi College and Career-Readiness Standards for computer science, which includes instruction in, but not limited to:

          (a)  Computational thinking;

          (b)  Problem-solving;

          (c)  Programming;

          (d)  Cyber security;

          (e)  Data science;

          (f)  Robotics;

          (g)  Artificial intelligence and machine learning; and

          (h)  Other computer science and cyber-related content.

     (2)  The State Department of Education shall work with the Center for Cyber Education at Mississippi State University to identify and develop K-12 computer science curriculum and delivery options.

     (3)  Beginning in the 2022-2023 school year:

          (a)  Each local school district shall provide that all middle schools in its school system offer instruction in foundation computer science;

          (b)  Each local school district shall provide that fifty percent (50%) of elementary schools in its school system offer a minimum of one (1) hour of instruction in computer science each week;

          (c)  Each charter school that serves middle or high school students shall offer a course in computer science; and

          (d)  Each charter school that serves elementary school students shall offer instruction in computer science.

     (4)  Beginning in the 2023-2024 school year:

          (a)  Each local school district shall provide that at least fifty percent (50%) of the high schools in its school system offer a course in computer science;

          (b)  Each local school district shall provide that all elementary schools in its school system offer a minimum of one (1) hour of instruction in exploratory computer science each week.

     (5)  Beginning in the 2024-2025 school year, each local school district shall provide that all schools in its school system offer instruction in computer science.

     SECTION 5.  The State Department of Education shall ensure that the Mississippi Virtual School operated pursuant to Section 37-161-3 has sufficient capacity to enable schools to utilize high quality instruction computer science courses to meet the needs of such schools as a result of this act.

     SECTION 6.  (1)  Subject to appropriations made by the Legislature, the State Department of Education shall provide annual training for teachers, counselors and administrators in order to phase in the K-12 computer science curriculum. Preference should be given to districts who have the fewest number of teachers trained in computer science.  The State Department of Education shall work with the Center for Cyber Education at Mississippi State University to develop and coordinate teacher training.  The State Department of Education may contract with private and nonprofit providers for teacher training and for student instruction, and is encouraged to utilize available cost-free computer training, instruction and resources.  Teachers may receive computer science instruction training through an online platform.

     (2)  The State Department of Education shall provide a report by January 1, 2022, to the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and the Chairman of the House Education Committee.  The report shall include a strategic plan for statewide computer science education initiatives including, but not limited to, the following:

              (i)  A summary of the current state landscape for K-12 computer science education;

              (ii)  A plan for expanding computer science education opportunities to every school in the state by 2024-2025 school year;

              (iii)  A plan for the development of preservice and in-service teachers seeking a computer science endorsement or course specific license, in order to meet the timeline for course requirements;

              (iv)  The development of a vetted list of approved vendors in computer science education that are recognized as high quality computer science courses or instruction, which should weigh preference on cost and ease of implementation; and

              (v)  The identification of approved computer science courses that may fulfill at least four (4) units of academic credit for mathematics and/or science courses for high school graduation.  The State Department of Education shall work with the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning and the Mississippi Community College Board to approve these courses once identified.

     (2)  The State Department of Education shall submit a report by December 31 of each year through 2025 to the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and the Chairman of the House Education Committee.  The report shall include a list of schools in each district teaching computer science and the number of computer science teachers trained in each district.

     SECTION 7.  The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning shall work with its member institutions to identify preservice teacher preparation programs to allow for certification in the computer science field.

     SECTION 8.  This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2021.