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Can We Fix Computer Science Education in America?

High school students

Students at Gardena High School in Gardena, CA, work on a robot in their Exploring Computer Science class.

Credit: John Landa/Exploring Computer Science

Computer science is the only one of the science, technology, engineering, and math fields that has seen a decrease in student participation during the last 20 years, falling from 25 percent to 19 percent, according to a recent National Center for Education Statistics report.

"Many kids come to high school without any experience in computer science, especially in lower resource schools," says the U.S. National Science Foundation's Jan Cuny. "They're not really ready to take a year-long course in Java."

In 2010, just 14,517 students took the AP computer science test, compared to the 194,784 students that took the AP calculus test, according to the College Board. Even if schools were able to implement engaging computer science courses, it would still be very difficult to find qualified teachers. Many teachers often have neither the background in computer science or the certification making them qualified to teach it.

“What often happens is that we spend a lot of effort trying to get technology into schools, but that isn’t coupled with ensuring that there is a really strong computer science curriculum behind it with really good teachers,” says Cameron Wilson, ACM’s director of public policy.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) recently introduced the Computer Science Education Act, which aims to create defined computer science education standards and provide grants to states to update their computer science programs.

From Time 
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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA 


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