- A new report released Wednesday by Code.org and the Computer Science Teachers Association finds 33 states have adopted a total of 57 computer science education policies within the last year, and the number of states that have adopted K-12 computer science standards has also increased from 22 to 34. An additional five states are developing standards.
- According to the report, states have allocated more than $123 million for professional development in computer science between fiscal years 2016 to 2021. For fiscal year 2020, many states — including Florida, which recently invested $10 million in computer science PD, and Mississippi, which invested $300,000 — are emphasizing funding for PD toward earning a formal computer science teacher certification, as opposed to training only to teach courses.
- Many states, including Pennsylvania, Alabama, Indiana and Utah, are also increasing funding for and expanding established computer science programs. Meanwhile, the number of states that require high schools to offer computer science has also increased.
As there is a national push for increased computer science literacy, many states are requiring high schools to offer courses in the subject, with some districts even making computer science a requirement for graduation. Some states are even requiring elementary and middle schools to offer computer science, the report says.
Georgia is among those phasing in the change through an incremental approach over the course of six years. The state has put in place benchmarks to see the plan through:
- At least one high school in each district must teach computer science in the 2022-23 school year. All elementary and middle schools in the state must also include exploratory computer science in curricula by this time.
- By 2023-24, at least half of the high schools in each district much teach computer science.
- By 2024-25, all high schools throughout the state must teach computer science.
The means through which this kind of statewide change is being championed vary and can be led by state education agencies, education centers or governor-appointed task forces.
Idaho's initiative is led by the state’s STEM Action Center, which has funded professional development and resources for educators, allowing communities to host trainings and promotional events around STEM. When Idaho passed legislation in 2018 requiring computer science course offerings in every public school, executive director Angela Hemingway said the state was on “very positive trajectory.”
Now, she said, computer science education is spreading thanks to a “significant need” for it in the job market.
“We recognize that literacy in the 21st century is no longer just having students be able to read,” Hemingway said. “We have to help students understand the importance of computational skills and processes that were not as common in the workforce just a decade ago.”
Hemingway suggested that states and districts looking to expand STEM programs should partner with local industry representatives, as industry stakeholders have a powerful voice at the table when it comes to political state- and district-level funding decisions. Having stakeholder support made Idaho’s initiative successful, she said.
Idaho also established a "bridge" program in February that places teachers in local businesses where they can get hands-on work skills and understand the “complexity of the industry.”
The program is expected to expand as it enters its second year, with an increasing number of teachers applying for placement.