Since last spring, there have been changes in Carmel High School’s computer science department with the addition of the yearlong course of Computer Science Principles-Mobile and the omission of the semester-long Introduction to Computer Science.
At a school board meeting last spring, there were decisions about cutting the semester-long course and replacing it with a new yearlong course.
“The class Computer Science Principles-Mobile was come up with by the College Board because there was a feeling that we have a shortage of students pursuing computer science, particularly in college,” says Tom Clifford, the computer science teacher at CHS. “One reason was that high school students didn’t know what [computer science] was, so that when they got to college, they weren’t interested in pursuing it because it was a nebulous thing that they didn’t have any experience with.”
Before the 2015-16 school year, the only computer science classes offered were the semester Introduction to Computer Science and the rigorous AP Computer Science.
According to Clifford, the course was designed to expose students to what computer science is and teach them about programming and encryption, issues that surround computing. This knowledge of computing could then be carried on into AP Computer Science.
“The way that Mr. Clifford taught it made it easy to understand. It was straightforward,” says junior Ellie Alto, a student of the semester course.
However, for students with little to no experience with technology, jumping into AP Computer Science could be difficult, and taking a programming class prior might ease the drastic leap. According to Colin Matheson, CUSD’s technology professional development coordinator, it is similar to never taking a math class and then going straight into Calculus.
“A big mover of the change was the interest in moving Health to freshman year, so the idea was to shorten freshman World Geography and make it a semester-long class paired with Health at the beginning of freshman year,” Matheson says.
In previous years, sophomores were encouraged to take Health paired with Introduction to Computer Science to fulfill their semester-long requirements, but their requirements have since been altered so a full year of computer technology class is required. This gave students an extra elective where they could fulfill their computer technology requirement.
“I think it is important to say that Carmel High has the most rigorous and most impressive tech offering of any school in Monterey County,” Clifford says. “By the addition of this new class, we are raising the level of computer science at Carmel High School.”