The imperative to increase our national talent pool in computer science and software engineering is clear. In fact, the number of job openings projected in 2018 for STEM fields will reach 2.8 million, and approximately half of these will be for computer specialists. To build student interest and engagement in computer science, and prepare more students for great career opportunities that require computational thinking.
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INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTER SCIENCE (ICS 0.5 Year)
Designed to be the first computer science course for students who have never programmed before, ICS is an optional starting point for the PLTW Computer Science program. Students create interactive stories in Scratch™ (an easy-to-use programming language); work in teams to create simple apps for mobile devices using App Inventor; and analyze data about students' health, social habits, and interests using functions in Excel®. Students will learn the impact of computing in society and the application of computing across career paths. They will also transfer the understanding of programming gained in App Inventor to a third language, Python®, in which they learn introductory elements of text-based programming. The course aligns with the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) 3A standards.
Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSE, 1 year)
CSE implements the College Board’s 2013 CS Principles framework. Using Python® as a primary tool and incorporating multiple platforms and languages for computation, this course aims to develop computational thinking, generate excitement about career paths that utilize computing, and introduce professional tools that foster creativity and collaboration. This course can be a student's first course in computer science, although we encourage students without prior computing experience to start with Introduction to Computer Science. CSE helps students develop programming expertise and explore the workings of the Internet. Projects and problems include app development, visualization of data, cybersecurity, robotics, and simulation. The course aligns with CSTA 3B standards. Download detailed course outline.
Computer Science Applications (CSA, 1 year)
CSA focuses on integrating technologies across multiple platforms and networks, including the Internet. Students collaborate to produce programs that integrate mobile devices and leverage those devices for distributed collection and data processing. Students analyze, adapt, and improve each other's programs while working primarily in Java™ and other industry-standard tools. This course prepares students for the College Board’s Advanced Placement CS-A test and aligns with CSTA Level 3C Standards.
Simulation and Modelling (SAM, 0.5 year)
In SAM, students create models and simulate social, physical, and biological systems. Students apply statistics and data analysis to understand systems and predict behavior, and they compare models to complex, real data. Students create simulations to communicate central ideas in the physical, biological, and social sciences and deepen their understanding of concepts in discrete math and computer science. This course emphasizes collaboration, professional writing, and the scientific method. It aligns with CSTA Level 3C Standards.
Artificial Intelligence (AI, 0.5 year)
AI students will develop artificially intelligent systems that create solutions to real problems found in science and industry. Students analyze problems for computational difficulty and analyze solutions for computational efficiency. Students engage in a wide array of applications, including automated vehicles and computer vision. This course aligns with CSTA Level 3C Standards.
Cybersecurity (SEC, 0.5 year)
SEC introduces the tools and concepts of cybersecurity and encourages students to create solutions that allow people to share computing resources while protecting privacy. Nationally, computational resources are vulnerable and frequently attacked; in SEC, students solve problems by understanding and closing these vulnerabilities. This course raises students' knowledge of and commitment to ethical computing behavior. It also aims to develop students' skills as consumers, friends, citizens, and employees who can effectively contribute to communities with a dependable cyber-infrastructure that moves and processes information safely. The course aligns with CSTA Level 3C Standards.
Capstone Course: Computational Problem Solving (CPS, 1 year)
As a capstone course, CPS offers students the opportunity to work in a team to deliver a software solution to a real-world design problem. Teams start by defining problems, which might originate from CPS students, community, or industry clients, or students in other problem-based courses, and use the Agile design process to develop a software solution. Effective practices in problem solving, documentation, software development, presentation, and collaboration are central to the course. The course aligns with CSTA Level 3C Standards.
Sequence of Courses
PLTW Computer Science offers options depending on a student’s prior experience with computer science, and we expect two common sequences of courses. For students with no programming experience, ICS followed by CSE and then CSA provides students with a strong foundation of computer science knowledge and skills. Following CSA, students would be prepared to take any of the specialization or capstone courses.
For students with previous programming experience, either through coursework or self-directed activities, or for students who have demonstrated strong academic performance in other disciplines, CSE is the starting point. Following CSE, students would then take the second foundational course, CSA. This sequence allows students to build upon their previous knowledge of programming and develop a common set of computer science knowledge and skills. After CSA, students would be prepared for any of the specialization or capstone courses.
computer science - assessment
Computer Science - Assessment
Assessments play an important role in providing meaningful feedback to students, teachers, administrators, and PLTW. Through assessments, students identify what they are doing well and what they need help with, and teachers are able to provide individualized direction and guidance to each student.
Student-centered Balanced Assessment
PLTW supports a balanced approach to assessment for all programs, integrating both formative and summative assessments. Through a balanced approach, assessment is an ongoing activity. Students demonstrate their knowledge throughout the course by completing activities, projects, and problems using a variety of assessment tools, such as performance rubrics and reflective questioning to deepen and expand their knowledge and skills.
Decision Making Using Valid and Reliable Scores
PLTW's assessment experts apply industry best practices and methods to design, test, and implement End of Course (EoC) assessments for our network of schools. We report valid and reliable scores on overall student performance within the course. The EoC assessment gives students an objective evaluation of their achievement, and stakeholders obtain data to make informed decisions.
End of Course assessments will be available for Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSE) in the 2014-15 school year.
Licensing & Trademarks
Android is a trademark of Google Inc. App Inventor is used without the permission of MIT under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.
Arduino is used without permission and is in no way affiliated with Arduino.
Excel is either a registered trademark or trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.
Tkinter Canvas and Tkinter toolbox are free software released under a Python license.
Scholarships & College-Level Recognition
PLTW students often show increased performance and persistence versus their non-PLTW peers. As a result, many colleges and universities offer scholarships for PLTW students to attend their institution. The following are ways in which institutions are offering scholarships or grants.
PLTW classes are nationally standardized, project-based courses that prepare students for college-level work and culminate with a student assessment, which colleges and universities can use to determine if a student earns college credit. The following are some of the ways in which post-secondary institutions recognize and attract PLTW students.