Download the California Computer Science Access Report

Learn about the landscape of computer science education across the state of California

Given the significant role that technology plays in California’s economy, computer science (CS) education is foundational to the success of its future workforce and it must take bold steps to ensure that all of California’s students are sufficiently prepared. This report examines who has access, who participates, and where equity gaps by race, gender, income, and geography continue to persist in computer science education across the state of California. Findings indicate that, while some progress has been made in expanding access to computer science education, much work remains to increase equity in access and enrollment, particularly among Black, Indigenous, Latinx students, girls, low-income students, and rural students.

Key Findings:

Who has access to computer science education in California?
  • 42% of California’s high schools offered a computer science course in 2018-19; a three percentage point increase from 2016.
  • California lags behind the national average and behind 34 other states, in the percentage of high schools offering at least one computer science course.
  • 66% of Santa Clara county high schools offered at least one computer science course, leading the computing education efforts across the state. 
  • While 34% of schools across the state offered a core computer science course, only 14% offered a specialized course and 13% offered an advanced placement course. 
  • Schools serving low-income communities were 3x less likely to offer core CS courses and over 2x less likely to offer Advanced Placement courses than schools serving high-income communities.
  • Rural schools were 2x less likely to offer CS courses than urban schools. 
  • 34% of schools serving high proportions of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Pacific Islander students offered CS in comparison to 52% of schools serving a greater proportion of white and Asian students. 
Who participates in computer science across California? 
  • Only 5% of the 1.93M high school students in California were enrolled in any type of computer science course in 2018-19. 
  • While girls comprise 49% of the high school population, just 30% of students taking computer science courses are girls, and girls from all backgrounds (except Asian) are vastly underrepresented. 
  • Just 561 Black students and 44 Indigenous students in CA took AP CS courses in 2019. 
  • California ranks ninth among all states in the number of AP CS test takers.
Are students successfully developing computational competencies? 
  • The overall passage rates for the AP CS A and AP CS P exams were 73%. 
  • Over 80% of Asian and White students passed the AP exam with a score of 3 or above, compared to roughly 50% of Black and Latinx students. 
  • Latinx girls were the least likely to pass the exams, with only 30% passing the AP CS A exam and 49% passing the AP CS exam.