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More states make computer science count.

In 2020, there will be 1.4 million computing jobs available in the United States and only 400,000 computer science students in the education pipeline. But the number of students may slowly be increasing, as 25 states now count computer science courses toward high school graduation requirements, compared to 11 states in 2013.

"We have fewer schools offering computer science now than we did 15 years ago--there's been a drop that's just starting to recover," says Jake Baskin, outreach manager for Code.org, a nonprofit that works with districts to expand participation in computer science.

Computer science includes programming, website development, software engineering and binary coding. Contributing to its decline in K12 schools has been a lack of qualified teachers in many parts of the country. And standardized math and English testing have, in the past decade, monopolized attention and resources, though the critical thinking and problem-solving skills learned through computer science can boost student performance in other subjects, Baskin says.

But with new policies allowing the classes to count toward graduation in many states, students may have more incentive to take a course.

The best measurement of the number of computer science students is AP exam data. In 2013, some 30,000 U.S. students took the AP computer science exam--fewer than almost every other subject. Less than 20 percent of those students were female, 8 percent were Hispanic, and 3 percent were African-American, according to Barbara Ericson, a senior Georgia Tech research scientist who analyzed the College Board data.

This was the case at Charles County Public Schools, a diverse Maryland district of 26,258 students located in the D.C. suburbs. "The kids in the AP computer science class were typically white males who were strong at math--it was not indicative of our student population," says Superintendent Kimberly Hill. "We wanted to figure out how to take away that aura around computer science--the idea that it's only for kids with certain backgrounds."

Maryland is one of the states that counts computer science as a credit toward gradu ation. The district partnered with Code, org to infuse K12 classes with computer science curriculum and principles such as critical thinking, working in groups, and breaking problems down into smaller parts. For example, at the elementary level, students use software to play games that emphasize computer science, such as entering commands that make a bee move to a flower. "It's the next logical step when it comes to STEM," Hill says. "It's not a nice-to-have, but a need-to-have."

Code in the Schools, Girls Who Code, the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and other organizations can help districts design computer science classes and clubs. Administrators can also seek guidance from colleagues who have enhanced their computer science curricula, says Lissa Clayborn, acting executive director at CSTA.

"In the next 10 to 20 years the bulk of U.S. jobs are going to need this skillset," Clayborn says. "I would want to offer something that could help my students find a career in the future."

FAST FACT

Nearly two-thirds of device owners say they have no idea who has access to data from their devices or how it is used.

Source: Harris Poll on behalf of Intel

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Title Annotation:DISTRICT CIO: TECHNOLOGY FROM THE CIO PERSPECTIVE
Author:DeNisco, Alison
Publication:District Administration
Date:Jan 1, 2015
Words:536
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