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Computer science education is gaining momentum.But some say it's not fast enough

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big american company, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, union leaders and some prominent city superintendents agree: Expanding computer science education is critical to preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s careers.

Despite such sentiment, and temporary federal funding of billions of dollars for new laptops, tablets, and Internet connections, the number of students enrolled in computer science education courses is at a slow pace. It continues to grow and remains a stubborn gap in course access. He concludes his Sept. 21 report from Code.org, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to the issue.

By 2022, just over half (53%) of US high schools will offer basic computer science classes. This is only a slight increase from 51% the year before, but a significant increase from 35% a few years ago.Across all states, 6% of high school students are also enrolled in computer science courses, up from 4.7% last year.

Black, Native American, and Native Alaskan students make up about the same percentage of computer science enrollments as the student population in grades 9-12. For example, black students make up about 15% of all public high school students and about 16% of participants in computer science foundation classes.

However, Hispanic and Latinx students are less representative. These students make up about 27% of her teenage students in grades 9 through 12, but only 20% of her students attending basic computer science courses.

The gap is even greater for poor students, who make up 52% ​​of students in grades 9 to 12, but only 36% of students are enrolled in foundational computer science courses nationwide.

Girls also tend to join courses later than boys, accounting for 32% of high school students enrolled in foundation classes nationwide. In fact, only her three states — Maryland, Mississippi, and South Carolina — have that average above her 40%. Each of these states has established computer science education as a new graduation requirement or as the primary way to meet existing graduation requirements.

Only seven states—Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, and Washington—have adopted the nine Code.org-recommended policies for expanding computer science education. The organization’s recommendations include creating a state plan to expand computer science education, requiring all high schools to provide computer science education, establishing computer science supervisory positions in state education offices, It involves establishing standards in computer science.

In Nevada, these measures are beginning to pay off. In Nevada, 95% of students attend schools that offer basic computer science, but only 4% are enrolled in courses. Notably, economically disadvantaged children, who make up nearly two-thirds of Nevada’s population from her 9th grade through her 12th grade, are actually 82 in basic computer science classes. % and occupies an excessive proportion.

Making the expansion of computer science education a policy priority “isn’t going to happen anytime soon,” said Jhone Ebert, Nevada’s director of public education, in an interview. States need support from governors, legislatures, local superintendents, and communities.

Difficult to find qualified computer science teachers

Finding qualified teachers to teach computer science is one of the biggest challenges schools face. Nevada has made it easy for people who have expertise in the field, but who may not have a bachelor’s or graduate degree, to obtain certification to teach courses. Part of that is giving the teacher credit for her successful work in the computer science field, Ebert said. .

Ebert said that even if all the policies were implemented, states would have to stick to them.

What’s her advice to states trying to do great things in computer science education? “Make sure you’re always working with teachers in the classroom,” she said. It’s one thing, but making sure it’s done right and looking at the data on an ongoing basis is another.”

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