Computer Science at MV receives and upgrade

Kevin Yang, News Editor

Just as computer hardware and software needs to be upgraded every few years, Monte Vista’s computer science program is scheduled for an update.

Monte Vista computer science teacher Bhupinder Anwar is working with admin and other teachers in the district to implement a series of changes to Monte Vista’s current computer science (CS) curriculum. These changes include new classes that would be incorporated into a more streamlined Computer Science pathway, better allowing students to build on their CS knowledge with each successive year.

Firstly, Anwar plans to improve the “progressive pathway” of classes. The math department has had a well-defined and standardized pathway of classes for many years (students must pass Geometry before taking Algebra I, Algebra I before Precalculus, etc.); Anwar hopes to create a pathway for CS that is as well defined and understandable as that of the math classes.

Computer Science at Monte Vista currently has its own “pathway” of courses, but it is much rougher and simpler than that of the math department. Students who pursue CS typically take the introductory programming course and take AP Computer Science (AP Java) the following year. However, many students waver out of, skipping directly to AP Java.  

Admin and Anwar intend to make the requirement to take the intro programming course before taking AP Computer Science stricter, allowing fewer students to waver into the class without this prerequisite. In addition, the current Game Design class will have the prerequisite of least one year of programming.

With the intention of increasing interest in computer science in general, Anwar plans to introduce an advanced introductory programming course called AP Computer Science Principles (AP CS Principles). With the introduction of this course, students who want to take an introductory programming course will be able to choose between AP CS Principles or Students in AP CS Principles will both learn the fundementals of programming and elements of computer science that are not covered in including building web apps.

Anwar hopes that the broader curriculum of AP CS Principles, GPA boost that comes with an AP class and the potential for AP college credit (via an AP test) will attract more students at MV to computer science. AP CS Principles is also on track to be the first weighted class available to freshmen, which should also draw the attention of college-savvy students.

“The purpose of [AP Computer Science Principles] is to draw more students into the wonders of computing,” Anwar said.

Further in the future, Anwar also been considering introducing courses in cyber security and app development at Monte Vista. While the details of these two courses’ curriculums and how they will fit into the new pathway are still unclear, Anwar believes that these courses will be give students valuable instruction in these two rapidly growing computer science fields.

It is important to note that none of these plans are yet official. Anwar expects to have a finalized computer science reform plan by March.

Anwar has also been trying to coordinate her improvements with the CS programs at other schools in the district. On January 12th, Anwar met with the all the computer science teachers in the school district to discuss her plans. However, it is unlikely that a universal computer science curriculum will be adopted across the SRVUSD due to the different needs of the students at each campus.

Anwar has opened a dialogue with students about her proposed improvements to the Monte Vista computer science program. During the fall of this school year, Anwar met with some of her students to discuss her plans and the potential impact these plans will have on students.

“It is important to get input from students [about the changes] because [the changes] will ultimately affect them,” Anwar said.

In the end, Anwar hopes that her new classes and streamlined pathway will give her students knowledge and opportunities that will benefit them in and beyond the classroom.

“I want a computer science curriculum that has value,” Anwar said. “I want [to generate] courses that can get students internships and jobs.”