9 ways to expand computer science equity in high school

Black, Latinx and Native American students are less likely to attend a school where computer science is taught

(GettyImages/Hill Street Studios)(GettyImages/Hill Street Studios)

Almost half of U.S. high schools now teach at least one computer science course. That means, however, students at a majority of high schools don’t have access to computer science, according to a new report.

And Black, Latinx and Native American students are less likely to attend a school where computer science is taught, according to “State of Computer Science Education: Illuminating Disparities” by Code.org, the Computer Science Teachers Association, and the Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance.

Students from rural areas and economically disadvantaged backgrounds are also less likely to have a chance to take computer science.

Students in these underrepresented groups are also less likely than are white and Asian American teeens to attend a school that offers an advanced placement computer science course or to an AP test in the subject.


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And even though female students remain underrepresented in high school computer science courses, the number of students taking AP computer science exams has been growing rapidly, the report found.

Disparities would be better illuminated if schools measured disparities by determining computer science participation by students’ specific race, ethnicity and economic status, rather than by the general term “underrepresented minorities,” the report found.

The report also recommended nine policies states and districts can implement to provide equitable access to computer science:

  • Create a state plan for K–12 computer science
  • Define computer science and establish rigorous K–12 computer science standards
  • Allocate funding for rigorous computer science teacher professional learning and course support
  • Implement clear certification pathways for computer science teachers
  • Create programs at institutions of higher education to offer computer science to preservice teachers
  • Establish dedicated computer science positions in state and local education agencies
  • Require that all secondary schools offer computer science with appropriate implementation timelines
  • Allow computer science to satisfy a core graduation requirement
  • Allow computer science to satisfy an admission requirement at institutions of higher education

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