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ERIC Number: EJ1121431
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1084-6522
The Case for Improving U.S. Computer Science Education
Nager, Adams; Atkinson, Robert
NCSSS Journal, v21 n1 p18-19 2016
Despite the growing use of computers and software in every facet of our economy, not until recently has computer science education begun to gain traction in American school systems. The current focus on improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the U.S. School system has disregarded differences within STEM fields. Indeed, the most important STEM field for a modern economy is not only one that is not represented by its own initial in "STEM" but also the field with the fewest number of high school students taking its classes. It is also by far the one that has the most room for improvement, and that is computer science. Among the key findings in this report: (1) Only a quarter of high schools offer computer science, and often these courses lack rigor or focus on computer use or just coding instead of delving into computer science principles; (2) Only 18 percent of schools accredited to offer advanced placement exams offer the computer science AP exam; (3) Access to computer science is concentrated in affluent schools; (4) Only 22 percent of students who take the AP exam in computer science are female, the largest gender disparity of any AP exam; (5) Less than 10 percent of students who take the AP computer science exam are Hispanic, and less than 4 percent are black; and (6) Access to computer science is also limited at universities. This report offers a series of policy recommendations to improve computer science education in the United States. They include: (1) Policymakers should reform curricula to focus on core concepts of computer science in primary and secondary schools and provide resources to train and recruit high-quality computer science teachers; (2) All states should allow computer science to count as either a math or science requirement, and more STEM-intensive public high schools that give students in-depth exposure to computer science should be established to allow students with the aptitude and interest in computer science to more deeply explore the subject; and (3) Universities should be incentivized to expand their offerings in computer science and prioritize retaining students interested in majoring, minoring, or taking courses in computer science. Not only is computer science a powerful educational tool for fostering critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity, computer skills and competencies are in high demand among employers in a wide range of industries, not just the tech industry.
National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A