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Improving K–12 Computer Science Education


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Girls using a computer in class.

A vast majority of students, parents, and educators are interested in and highly value computer science, a Google-Gallup report found, but state policies and curricula are lagging.

Credit: iStockphoto

Although a shortage of qualified workers is a frequent refrain of the technology industry, Code.org estimates fewer than half of U.S. K-12 schools offer computer science (CS) courses, which a 2016 Google-Gallup survey elevates to 75 percent when accounting for after-school activities and clubs.

The latter poll found most students, parents, and educators value CS, but state policies and curricula often fail to prioritize it, much less make CS education mandatory instead of offering it only as an elective.

University of Washington professor Ed Lazowska (recipient of the ACM Presidential Award for 2005 and the ACM Distinguished Service Award for 2009) says computational thinking should be cultivated in all citizens, noting, "It is never too early to start learning this."

Not only does starting CS basics in kindergarten build a foundation for logic, critical thinking, and creativity, but Code.org's Pat Yongpradit says it also interests girls and minorities early on.

Experts say closing a qualified CS educator gap should be the top priority for new funds allocated by the White House.

From IEEE Spectrum
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