Few educational topics are growing in popularity like computer science. Unlike Mathematics, English, or History, CS is relatively new, but its novelty hasn’t hindered its rapid growth. The rapid growth of CS is well documented within the walls of Harvard University. Enrollment for Harvard’s introductory computer science courses consistently exceeds enrollment for all or most other courses. In 2019, CS50’s 735 enrollees outnumbered other popular courses in long-standing subjects such as economics and statistics.
Today, with the increasing accessibility of computers and applications in the workforce, CS skills are in dire need in a variety of areas. In response to this demand, many American high schools are placing renewed emphasis on her CS education. In the three years to 2021, the percentage of US high schools offering CS classes has reached a record high of 51%. Therefore, all US states should follow suit and ensure that all public and private high schools offer at least one CS class.
Why is it important for students to have access to a computer science education? Implementing a CS education has the potential to address various geographic, economic, and racial disparities across the country. Mostly rural “flyover” states often struggle to fill tech positions compared to tech hubs such as California. In my home state of Nebraska, policymakers have paid a great deal of attention to reducing the “brain drain,” the loss of college-educated individuals from the region.
With a continuing shortage of technology-oriented trained workers across the United States, CS education serves as a valuable tool for policy makers to attract and retain talent. A major divide also exists in CS accessibility, further highlighting why every high school should offer at least one CS course of hers. In suburban school districts, he offers CS courses at a higher rate than in rural and urban districts. Also, Black/African American, Native American/Alaskan, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander high school students are all less likely to attend schools with basic CS courses. The tech industry reflects a lack of diversity in the workplace.
For these and other reasons, teaching CS should and should have an amazing public support. Just over two-thirds of his American parents feel it is important for their child to learn computer science, and the majority of teachers, principals and superintendents who work in public school districts teach computer science. I believe that it is as important or even more important than other academic fields. Clearly, therefore, a significant proportion of stakeholders in our educational system support teaching her CS alongside other major academic subjects.
I was amazed at how my introductory CS course in high school shaped my future path. The basic coding and computer knowledge gained from the Swift Playground lessons laid the groundwork for his subsequent web and app building projects. The way of thinking taught in programming education also led to a deeper understanding of other subjects.
My experience is nothing special. High school CS classes have been shown in various studies to improve math skills, boost creativity, and even boost college admissions. Not only does CS have educational benefits, it requires an ongoing understanding of CS to pursue a well-paying career inside or outside the tech industry. Knowledge of computers and programming is now fundamental to producing Broadway musicals, practicing law, enhancing patient care, creating art, and running a company.
The many economic and educational benefits of studying CS should motivate elected officials to further promote this CS education within their respective states. One way elected officials can effectively address our increasingly technology-focused world is by supporting CS education initiatives.
One state that has had great success promoting CS for high school graduates is Arkansas. Arkansas’ efforts to advance her CS education include training CS educators, linking her CS to academic standards in other subjects at all grade levels, and ensuring that all high school students take her CS courses. This includes making available. The expansion of CS education in Arkansas has attracted tech giants such as Facebook and Microsoft to provide CS education opportunities for Arkansas students. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson sees the state’s ambitious CS education as a success, stating: ”
As a result of these actions, Arkansas experienced an almost nine-fold increase in CS course enrollment and an almost 13-fold increase in the number of women enrolled in CS courses. Due to the success of CS-focused initiatives, the state recently mandated that all high school graduates take one of her CS courses starting in her 2022-2023 academic year.
Other states, including South Carolina, Nevada, and Nebraska, have similar CS high school graduation requirements to Arkansas. As of December 2021, 23 states required all high schools to offer students the opportunity to take CS courses.
CS education certainly has a large following, but not all participate. In a recent debate, Nebraska senators, including Senator Steve Erdman, who represents primarily rural western Nebraska, expressed concerns before Nebraska’s Computer Science and Technology Education Act was passed. Specifically, Senator Erdman cited a shortage of teachers as a potential barrier to implementing the law. The law requires every student graduating from high school to complete at least one of her five-credit courses in CS and Technology. The lack of CS-focused teaching professionals is a national barrier to her CS teaching at the high school level.
Therefore, in order to best implement CS education, states must take additional steps before and after ensuring CS is offered in all high schools. A grade-wide curriculum, such as the K-12 Computer Science Framework, can be implemented to prepare states to offer CS courses in all high schools. A recent code.org report suggested that taking action, such as implementing a statewide plan, allocating funding for CS education, and developing her CS education program for educators, would help the state increase her CS knowledge. It also explains how to increase the effectiveness of spreading .
Because of the abundance of free, high-quality materials available, CS classes can be offered in any school district where students have access to computers. Virtual learning, largely pandemic-related, has made CS education even more accessible, reaching 90% of her middle and high school districts where each student has access to their own device. Free websites and resources like Code.org, Khan Academy, Scratch, Codecademy, MIT App Inventor, and Swift Playgrounds help students of all ages and skill levels learn common programming techniques.
With many existing coding resources, the US education system can empower America’s youth to learn computer science. Barriers are created when students don’t learn computer science. Barriers to other disciplines, careers, skill sets useful in an increasingly technology-oriented world, and the benefits of new ways of thinking. States can now choose to leave these barriers in place or use the power of the Code to break them down.
Images by Ilya Pavlov licensed under the Unsplash License.