“Given the high and increasing demand for workers with computing skills, it is imperative that all of our students, including women and minorities, have access to computer-science education,” Trump wrote in The New York Post.
As state and local educators adopt new computer science requirements for their students, they are stymied by a lack of qualified teachers. “There is a need to get at least one [computer science] teacher in every school in this country, [but] right now there’s usually only one in a district,” says Cameron Wilson, chief operating officer and president of the Code.org Advocacy Coalition in Seattle, Washington, which promotes computer science education.
Learning to code teaches kids the mental discipline for breaking down problems logically and then solving them—a skillset that everyone can use. “We don’t expect all students to become computer scientists,” says Troy Williams, computer science integration manager at Chicago Public Schools. “But all students, no matter what their career [goals], can benefit from computational thinking.”
The bulk of this report focuses on indicators of progress toward 10 policy priorities widely seen as central to broadening participation in K–12 CS education. These priorities were developed collaboratively by a 27-member Advocacy Coalition assembled by Code.org and are among the criteria used by other organizations as well.
In the global labor market, computational thinking skills and knowledge of computer science are required in nearly all career fields. What’s more, jobs in computer science, information technology (IT) and related fields represent a large and growing sector of the economy. By 2020, as many as 4.6 million out of 9.2 million jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields will be computer-related, according to the Association for Computing Machinery.
The K–12 Computer Science Framework promotes a vision in which all students critically engage in computer science issues; approach problems in innovative ways; and create computational artifacts with a personal, practical, or community purpose.
The findings in this report present positive growth in the area of CS with more principals reporting in Year 2 than in Year 1 that their school offers a CS class with programming or coding. Additionally, the study shows that key concepts, including computational thinking (CT), are being incorporated into classes.
Given the ubiquity of the computing field in society, the diversity gap in computer science (CS) education today means the field might not be generating the technological innovations that align with the needs of society’s demographics. Women and certain racial and ethnic minorities are underrepresented in learning CS and obtaining CS degrees, and this cycle perpetuates in CS careers. Many — including tech companies and educational institutions — have taken steps to make CS more appealing and accessible to these groups, yet the diversity gap endures.
To maintain the field’s current momentum, the perception of computer science needs to shift from its being considered a fringe, elective offering or a skills-based course designed to teach basic computer literacy or coding alone. Instead, it is time for computer science to be seen as a core science on par with more traditional high school offerings such as biology, chemistry and physics, which have been the focus since the 1890s.