Why CS?

Discover why computer science education is essential to the success of our students and state.

WHY COMPUTER SCIENCE MATTERS

Computer science education develops computational, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills that is foundational knowledge for all students, regardless of their ultimate field of study or occupation.

Yet, even though California leads the nation in the size and productivity of its technology economy, ⅔ of California high schools still lack computer science courses and only 3% of our 1.9 million high school students were enrolled in computer science classes to prepare them for the future tech-driven workforce.

These numbers are even lower for Black, Latinx, and Native American/Alaskan Native students, girls of all backgrounds, rural students, and students from low-income households. To maintain our status as a leader in technology, California must invest in ensuring access and equity in computer science education for all students.

Why we need a solution

Computer science education for all is critical to the future of our students and our state.

In California, students of color, girls, and students in low-income and rural communities should be receiving the same high-quality computer science education as their peers. 

But data shows this is not the case. 

Low-income schools are 4x less likely to offer Advanced Placement (AP) computer science courses and rural schools are 7x less likely. 

Students who lack access to rigorous computer science courses will be at a significant disadvantage when it comes to college, careers, and community engagement.

What we teach these children today will impact what they can achieve tomorrow.

These inequities are unacceptable. We must ensure all students have equal access to the computer science education they need to succeed. And given the diversity of our state, we cannot afford to leave students of color behind.

 

Computer science education is a critical foundation for broadening participation in California’s workforce and the jobs of the future.

However, currently, California is unable to meet the growing demand for a skilled and diverse technology workforce, threatening detrimental impacts on our economic growth, competitiveness, innovation, and equity.

Widely-accessible, quality computer science education will prepare our students to become the innovators and inventors of the future.

Without access to rigorous CS, students will simply remain passive  consumers of technology that others will create.

By making equitable computer science education a priority across California, we can nurture skilled, next-generation innovators that help grow California’s economy.

Whether our students go into tech, agriculture, arts, finance, or healthcare, nearly every industry relies on the computational thinking, creativity and problem-solving foundation learned through computer science.

Provided with increased CS access, students will discover innovative ways to solve problems in their communities.

Armed with CS skills, these students will pursue college degrees and procure careers they never thought possible.

Technology has made California one of the world’s leading hubs of innovation and creativity in fields as diverse as agriculture, environment, entertainment, social media, app development and healthcare.

California lags behind other states in providing students opportunities to learn computational thinking, tech literacy, and programming skills.  Without a competitive, long-term, strategic approach to teach all students computational skills, California risks being left behind.

If we want California to continue to be a national leader, we must invest in providing high-quality opportunities for teaching and learning computer science for every student in every school.

FAQs

  • What is computer science?

    Computer science develops computational, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills that show students how to create and use new technologies. This knowledge base is needed as a launch pad to prepare students for college, careers, and community engagement. Regardless of their ultimate field of study or occupation, a computer science education will ignite their future success.

  • Why is it important for all students to learn computer science?

    Computer science is a rapidly growing field that develops essential knowledge and skills for today’s world. Whether a student goes into tech or healthcare, agriculture or the arts, nearly every industry relies on the foundational skills of computer science. Computation integration is increasing in the job market, in both STEM and non-STEM fields. 

  • Why is computer science education important to California?

    California is a national education leader and tech capital of world. To continue to lead, California must take a long-term, strategic approach to prepare all of its students with computational skills, or risk being left behind. Occupations in computing are expected to further drive our economy and add new jobs. If Californians are going to be prepared to fill those jobs, we need to ensure our students have the skills they need to participate in a technological workforce. 

  • What does it mean to have equity in computer science?

    To achieve equity in computer science we need the participation of greater numbers of students who have traditionally been underrepresented in computer science--Black, Latinx, Native American, girls, rural students, and low-income students, in the field. The diversity in the state and the country’s population should be reflected those who participate in computer science education. To achieve equity, we must focus at multiple levels: access to CS courses, access to high-quality teaching, enrollment in CS courses, success in CS courses, and matriculation into post-secondary computing majors and careers at representative levels.

  • What policies is CSforCA advocating for?

    CSforCA advocates for all students to have access to a high-quality computer science education that prepares them for college, careers and community engagement.

    To achieve this, in 2019-2020, we are focusing on building infrastructure in our state to ensure CS can be implemented effectively and equitable. We are advocating for the following:

    Professional Learning

    Create a comprehensive regional hub of professional development and ongoing support for teachers, counselors, and administrators. The program is to be modeled after the National Science Foundation (NSF) research pilot, "Summer of CS”.

    Pre-Service Teacher Education

    Provide incentives for Schools of Education to develop pre-service credentialed programs to teach computer science. 

    Integrate College & Career Pathways

    Integrate college and career pathways to make CS available to all students and schools and increase job placement. Perkins funding can be leveraged for CS courses, regardless of pathway or teacher credential. Access to computer science should also be part of the state’s accountability system, as an indicator for college and career readiness.

    Teacher Credentialing

    California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) review of computer science teacher credentials to revisit which should authorize them to teach CS in short-term, while developing a long-term CS credential pathway.

  • What is computer science education access like in my community?

    To find out who has access to computer science education in your community, check out our data tool and click on your county or enter your district or school.

  • How can I get involved?

    To learn more about how you can advocate for equitable computer science education and get involved in the CSforCA coalition, please visit our Take Action page.

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