The evolving needs of the IT workforce are constantly discussed–even people who are far from it understand the constantly growing needs for computer science. And yet, U.S. high schools don’t consistently offer computer science education and IT classes.
According to CSTA reports, a little over half (53 percent) of U.S. high schools offer a single computer science course–a fundamental subject critical to the nation’s economic and security health. Modest yet significant growth is being observed–in 2018 this index was 35 percent.
Some schools’ computer science education programs are shrinking due to budget issues. School administrators do not see computer science education as a necessary skill for teaching students. Minnesota (only 43.5 percent) and Louisiana (45.8 percent) have the fewest number of students who attend schools that offer foundational computer science courses.
CSTA research also found significant differences in access to computer science education across different social groups. For example, rural and urban schools, such as schools with a large proportion of economically disadvantaged students, are less likely to offer computer science. There is also a trend related to ethnicity: Black/African American students, Hispanic/Hispanic/Hispanic/Latino students, and Native American and Alaska students were less likely to attend a school that offered it.
What’s missing in American high schools for the development of computer science education at this level?
Lack of curriculum resources
Since there is not always a clear answer to the question of what graduates should know after completing a computer science course, finding resources can be very difficult. Often this choice falls on the teachers themselves.
Currently, only 14 states have adopted the ACM and CSTA standards for high school computer science, and only 10 allow them to be credited for graduation. Only 1 out of every 10 schools teaches programming, and in most schools computer science is not a required part of curriculum.
However, 65 percent of teachers believed that existing CS curricular resources met the needs of a diverse student body.
Lack of hardware/software resources
Thirty-five percent of teachers said they didn’t have the materials, supplies, equipment and space needed to teach computer science. There is no single program; no resource requirements. In general, to program in Python or Java, a computer is enough–sometimes internet access would not hurt. However, it will be much more convenient for students to learn programming with the help of specialized software, in convenient integrated development environments, with online materials, and so on. Finding all this in schools can be challenging.
Lack of appropriate assessments
How to assess student knowledge? Because there are no uniform requirements, it is very difficult to adequately evaluate students. If there is an enthusiastic teacher who has developed a program on their own, they usually have a few followers who are very interested in it. For example, in one school in Illinois, a teacher developed an elective program in robot programming. As a result, two students created a controlled robot, while the rest limited themselves to typical tasks. Of course, it is difficult to evaluate them equally.
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