CYBER.ORG has announced the release of the United States’ first voluntary K-12 cybersecurity learning standards to be used in schools and districts around the country.
As the U.S. continues to face an onslaught of sophisticated cyberattacks, there are over 464,000 unfilled cybersecurity positions nationwide. The new standards are designed to provide students with the same cybersecurity learning opportunities at each grade level and are essential to helping them prepare for the high-demand cybersecurity jobs of the future.
As the first national effort to align cybersecurity learning criteria across all 50 states, the K-12 cybersecurity learning standards aim to build a strong, more diverse talent pipeline to protect U.S. national security and maintain U.S. competitiveness on the world stage, while helping address the cybersecurity workforce shortage. States now have the option to adopt the K-12 cybersecurity learning standards ahead of the 2022-2023 school year.
“The national K-12 cybersecurity learning standards are critical to providing the next generation of students with the skills and knowledge to pursue cybersecurity careers, ultimately helping solve the cybersecurity workforce gap,” said Kevin Nolten, Director of Academic Outreach at CYBER.ORG. “For the first time, educators have a roadmap for uniformly teaching cybersecurity to students in each grade band across the country. We are thankful to all our partners who dedicated their time to making the standards an incredible success and look forward to helping states adopt the standards in the coming year.”
The K-12 cybersecurity learning standards center around three core themes – Computing Systems (CS), Digital Citizenship (DC) and Security (SEC) – all of which represent key fundamentals in cybersecurity education. Each core concept covers a range of pertinent cybersecurity topics, from the Internet of Things (IoT) to Threat Actors.
The first-ever K-12 cybersecurity learning standards will support CYBER.ORG’s mission to address the growing cybersecurity workforce crisis by increasing foundational cybersecurity awareness, access to cybersecurity education and interest in the cybersecurity profession.
“The K-12 cybersecurity learning standards will help align curriculum in different districts and states to better prepare students for future cybersecurity careers,” said Janet Hartkopf, Cyber Program Director at Basha High School in the Chandler Unified School District in Arizona. “Educators now have a clear rubric to guide cybersecurity curriculum and help address the existing gaps in the talent pipeline.”
Since kicking off the initiative in September 2020, CYBER.ORG convened a writing committee of K-12 educators and involved key stakeholders across education, government, and industry to collect input that increased the relevancy and value of the standards. The standards development process was facilitated by McREL International, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education research, development and service organization that helps schools, districts and education agencies improve outcomes for students.
“The national K-12 cybersecurity learning standards will enable greater access to cybersecurity education in classrooms across the country,” said Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction. “These standards will provide students with the same cybersecurity learning opportunities at each grade level and are essential to helping them prepare for the high-demand cybersecurity jobs of the future.”