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Alabama Schools Advancing Cybersecurity Curriculum

Friday, July 28, 2023 3:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Cyber Huntsville is committed to enhancing cyber awareness across all levels, focusing on fostering awareness among school children. Recognizing the importance of early education in cybersecurity, Cyber Huntsville aims to do its part in building a strong foundation of cyber awareness and knowledge in young students. By introducing cybersecurity concepts, best practices, and safe online behaviors early, our state can equip children with the necessary skills to navigate the digital world securely. In partnership with companies and state organizations, Cyber Huntsville strives to create a culture of cyber awareness that extends throughout the community, ensuring a safer and more secure digital environment for all. It's essential first to understand what our state has been working on achieving.

Alabama's Efforts in the Last 5 Years

Alabama has implemented a comprehensive plan for computer science education. In terms of standards, Alabama adopted computer science and digital literacy standards for grades K-12 in 2018. The Governor's Computer Science Advisory Council played a crucial role by providing policy recommendations in 2019 and establishing a timeline in 2021.. The state has also demonstrated its commitment to funding by allocating $17.5 million since 2017 for K-12 computer science education and professional development for educators. This investment highlights Alabama's dedication to ensuring a robust computer science curriculum and supporting the development of educators in the field.

North Dakota's Example

North Dakota's cybersecurity education law is a major step for its PK-20W Initiative, ensuring cyber-education for all citizens. It builds on the state's success in adopting cybersecurity and computer science standards for all grades. The law includes a $300,000 grant program for schools, centers, libraries, and education centers offering cybersecurity courses to adults.

The initiative addresses the growing need for cybersecurity professionals, particularly in schools facing cyber threats. It aligns with the White House's National Cybersecurity Strategy and aims to diversify the cybersecurity staff pipeline. Major school systems, like Los Angeles Unified School District and Minneapolis Public Schools, have experienced significant cyberattacks. Examples like these encourage Alabama to press forward on its initiatives to educate a cyber future workforce that will protect the future generations.

Progress and Requirements for Alabama

In 2018, the Board of Education established the Digital Literacy and Computer Science standards and course of study. The Department of Education plays a vital role in overseeing computer science education, with an Education Specialist and an Educator Administrator dedicated to Digital Literacy and Computer Science. It has also formulated a course of study.  The state mandates that all elementary, middle, and high schools must offer computer science courses.  Certain computer science courses, such as AP Computer Science A or AP Computer Science Principles, can be counted as mathematics or science credits toward graduation.

Amanda Dykes, Computer Science Specialist at the Alabama State Dept of Education, said, "We have 16 High-Quality Computer Science courses in middle and high school. Also, we have developed the new Alabama Career Tech IT course of study courses, which includes our new Cybersecurity program and new AI class. These courses all include the Alabama Digital Literacy and Computer Science standards. These courses are giving students what they need for future computing careers."

Alabama is a member of the ECEP Alliance, has a statewide CSTA chapter, and Governor Kay Ivey is a member of the Governor's Partnership for K–12 Computer Science.

How can you and your company help?

If you want to know how to get involved, please get in touch with us to connect you with individuals making change in our Cyber Security community, leadership, and legislature.

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