computer science education

4 ways to strengthen computer science education


A new paper offers a progress report of states' efforts to implement computer science education.

States are progressing toward a number of goals that aim to make computer science education a priority, but there is still more to do–especially when it comes to adopting K-12 computer science standards, according to a new report.

State of the States Landscape Report: State-Level Policies Supporting Equitable K–12 Computer Science Education also highlights key strategies and issues state leaders must address regarding computer science education.

So far, 7 states have adopted K-12 computer science education standards. States are considered to have fully adopted K-12 standards once they have met three criteria: the standards cover elementary, middle and high school; they are publicly accessible on the state’s website; and they include computer science content at all levels.

Though relatively few states have addressed all the criteria, 8 additional states are currently in the standards development process.

(Next page: Strategies and critical issues surrounding computer science education)

The report outlines four strategies for states to consider as they work to strengthen computer science education and improve workforce success for all youth:

1. Build a broad base of leadership and ownership among key stakeholders
2. Develop short-, medium-, and long-term strategies, with a view to coherence and sustainability
3. Collect data to monitor progress, inform decision making, and drive continuous improvement
4. Use the growing talent pool of expertise in key organizations and in leadership states

It also highlights three critical issues that state leaders must address:

1. Raise the bar on both the scale of the effort and the quality of the CS learning opportunities available to students from kindergarten through the end of high school.
2. Commit to sufficient funding to achieve the goal. In most states, the level of funding currently available reflects an early-stage “testing the waters” approach.
3. Work toward continuous improvement by continuing to examine the CS education landscape and chart progress and challenges over time.

A group of leading computer science education organizations co-authored the report, with funding from BNY Mellon. The group includes EDC, Code.org, Education Commission of the States, NSF BPC Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance, Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN), and SageFox Consulting Group.

“Even with all of the progress being made, we have a long way yet to go,” said EDC’s Jim Stanton, executive director of MassCAN and the report’s lead author. “A failure to act boldly and urgently will maintain the status quo, in which access to CS is available to only a fraction of the nation’s K–12 students. Aggressively addressing the policy priorities described in this report will more quickly and effectively provide CS opportunities to a whole generation of students.”

Laura Ascione

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