Governments, schools, nonprofits, and teachers pledge to bring computer science to millions of students

Computer science education has made tremendous gains across the country and around the world this year, and we celebrated a kickoff event Monday, Dec. 3 for the start of Computer Science Education Week!

More than 24,000 teachers, and nearly 200 governments, school districts, universities, and organizations pledge to expand CS for millions of students worldwide.

Here in the U.S., Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, and Montana have pledged to expand computer science in schools, and those states are joined by 82 U.S. school districts and 69 nonprofits, companies, and universities. Internationally, 25 partners in 20 countries pledged to expand CS programs for nearly 6,000 teachers. And at the G20 summit, the largest countries in the world affirmed their support for the G20 Education Ministers’ Declaration, which for the first time recommends the integration of “computing and coding skills within the curriculum.”

In total, these pledges will bring new learning opportunities to millions of students.

The news was announced at an event at the University of Washington in Seattle and featured philanthropist Melinda Gates, Microsoft President Brad Smith and over 60 computer science students. You can watch a recording of the ceremony here.

CS is gaining momentum

Computer science is essential to education, not only because it prepares students for the highest-paying, fastest-growing sector of jobs, but as a foundation for all 21st century careers. Yet only 35 percent of high schools in the U.S. offer computer science, and the lack of access hits female and minority students the hardest. Female students constitute only 18 percent of university computer science graduates in the U.S., and the percentage is even lower for Black, Hispanic and other minority students.

Fortunately, the global movement continues to grow as students, teachers, and advocates push for more equity in the field. Over 100 million students have been introduced to computer science by participating in the Hour of Code. One million teachers have begun teaching with Code.org in their classrooms, and entire schools, cities, states, and countries have begun adding computer science to their school-day curriculum. And as of 2018 in the U.S. alone, 44 states have adopted at least one of nine policies that support CS education, up from just 14 states plus Washington, D.C. in 2013.

New year, new pledges

At today’s kickoff event, states and school districts made pledges and announcements to expand or renew their commitment to CS in their own schools.

A full list of pledges is detailed here. Highlights at the state level include:

Governor Kay Ivey pledges that the state of Alabama will provide support to enable every public high school to offer at least one computer science course by 2022. This will provide an opportunity for all Alabama students to learn authentic computer science and provide them with the skills necessary for college and careers of the future.

“My Strong Start, Strong Finish education initiative recognizes the need to meet both the current and future workforce needs,” said Gov. Ivey. “The future of our state begins with Alabama’s students, and by investing in computer science education, we are reaffirming our commitment to preparing for the future.”

Missouri legislators recently took a bold step to support K-12 computer science education by becoming the first state to pass legislation during a special session expanding course opportunities. Governor Parson pledges to continue to build on the foundation passed during special session, joining the Governors’ Partnership for Computer Science and laying the groundwork for providing students with access to qualified teachers, updated technology, and age-appropriate curriculum for every student to have the ability to succeed in the workforce demands of tomorrow.

“We will continue to focus our efforts on increasing participation and awareness in computer science and coding, as these skills are essential to the development of a workforce that thrives in all sectors of modern industry,” Gov. Parson said.

In his budget proposal for FY20–21, Montana Governor Steve Bullock proposes to prepare the workforce of tomorrow by investing $250,000 in professional development for computer science teachers. By increasing training opportunities for teachers, Montana can ensure that all its students gain the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow.

In Arkansas, the state is committing an additional $200,000 to the Computer Science Lead Teacher Program, for a total of $1 million in funding over two years. The program is for K-8 teachers who attend high quality trainings to teach CS and support other teachers in their school. Each teacher who completes the program and additional requirements is eligible to receive up to $2,000. Arkansas leads the way when it comes to CS education and was the first state to adopt all nine policies that support computer science education.

Gov. Hutchinson has made CS a top priority since taking office in 2015. “Since 2015, Arkansas has led the nation in computer-science education. I’m proud of the work we’ve done, and this new K-8 stipend reinforces our commitment to provide students access to computer science education in the best possible way, starting with the early years,” he said.

Other highlights include:

  • 69 nonprofits, corporations, and universities in 46 states will prepare 6,231 CS teachers in 2019. These teachers will begin teaching computer science to 2 to 3 million students in middle and high school.
  • More than 80 school districts representing more than 3,000 schools and 2 million students pledged to expand their computer science offerings.
  • 25 companies, organizations, schools, and coding clubs in 20 countries made pledges to train teachers, introduce CS into schools, or build curricula. At least 5,750 teachers will be trained to teach CS in order to reach more than 400,000 students.

Celebrating champions of CS

For the second consecutive year, Code.org partnered with the Computer Science Teachers Association to recognize and award the 2018 Champions for Computer Science. The award recognizes the students, teachers, schools, districts, and organizations that made a tangible impact on computer science learning in their communities.

The winners’ accomplishments ranged from developing tools and curriculum for students with disabilities, to providing needed tech equipment to underserved schools. Eight winners were recognized, but close to 200 were nominated. You can read more about the winners here.

“It’s incredible to see where we are today compared to where we started in 2013,” said Hadi Partovi, Code.org founder. “In just five short years, we’ve seen computer science go from a niche field to a worldwide movement powered by students, teachers and our partners all over the world. We know there is still tremendous work to be done, but the pledges made this year are a powerful sign that our movement will only continue to grow.”