The United States for Computer Science

Policies in 44 states are bringing CS to the classroom

Computing has quickly become an integral part of our lives, changing everything from how we live, how we work, to how we interact with each other. As a catalyst for social change and the number one source of all new wages in our economy with more than 500,000 open computing jobs available across the country, why aren’t U.S. schools providing our students with the opportunities to learn computer science?

We’ve done some digging and are excited to share our new national report on the state of computer science education and policy and the first look at school-level data on the availability of computer science in high schools.

Computer science is one of the few policy issues that can address both foundational education needs and workforce development demands for a state’s future workforce. Since day one, Code.org’s mission has been how we can give every student across the country access to learning this fundamental subject. And when the Code.org Advocacy Coalition began its work in 2013, just 14 states plus Washington, D.C. had at least one of nine policies in place addressing the importance of computer science education. These policies include state funding for professional learning for computer science teachers, requiring all schools to offer computer science, and the establishment of K-12 computer science standards.

Through the tremendous work of partners across the country and broad bipartisan support from state and national leaders, 44 states have enacted one or more of these policies. And since the last report in 2017, 33 states have passed new laws and regulations to expand access to K-12 computer science.

But we’ve found that across 24 states, only 35% of high schools in the U.S. offer computer science. Black and Hispanic students, students receiving free and reduced lunch, and students from rural areas are less likely to attend a school that provides access to this critical subject.

The big question we’ve asked is, do these policies mean that more students have access to K-12 computer science? In states that have enacted more of these nine policies, a greater percentage of schools provide students access to K-12 computer science!

States should enact or expand on all nine of these education policies to provide opportunities for all students, and states that have adopted some or many of these ideas should continue to focus on implementation. We must give every student the tools and resources to succeed regardless of where they live, their race/ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic status.

“Computer science classes provide critical skills that are needed across the digital economy, from manufacturing to marketing and beyond,” said Brad Smith, President of Microsoft. “Today’s progress is worth celebrating but this work is far from over. We hope that every state passes laws, by the end of the year, to ensure that all students, no matter his or her background, can learn to code.”

We want every state to have the tools they need to help prepare their students for the future! For the third year in a row, the State Policy Forum hosted by Code.org and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), has brought together state and national leaders committed to K-12 computer science education to learn how they can bring these nine policies to place in their state.

“This report paints a hopeful picture of the state of computer science and the key role that teachers play in turning policy into reality for students,” said Jake Baskin, Executive Director of CSTA.

“Code.org’s Advocacy Coalition is leading one of the largest bipartisan movements for change across our entire education system with 44 states adopting policies to support expanding access to K-12 computer science. This report shows our policy agenda is now fulfilling the coalition’s vision that every student should have an opportunity to take high quality K-12 computer science in their local schools.” Cameron Wilson, President of the Code.org Advocacy Coalition.

Opening the doors to K-12 computer science education is crucial to addressing equity, workforce, and education issues on a bipartisan basis. Let’s continue the support and momentum we have seen for this critical subject!

See how your state stacks up in our full report.

Pat Yongpradit — Chief Academic Officer, Code.org

Jake Baskin — Executive Director, CSTA