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States' Push for Computer Science Grows

"Computer Science in High School Graduation Requirements"

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Twenty states now require that high school students be allowed to count a computer science course as a math or science credit toward graduation, according to a new report from the Education Commission of the States.

That's up from 14 states from the organization's first report last year.

The requirements vary from state to state. In Georgia and Utah, computer science can only count as a science credit. In nine other states, the course can only fulfill a math credit. It can fulfill either math or science in the remaining nine states.

Texas is the only state in which, in addition to fulfilling a math credit, computer science can also fulfill a foreign-language requirement. (Other states have considered such policies but ultimately not passed legislation on them.)

And three states—Arizona, California, and Colorado—leave the decision about whether computer science can fulfill a math or science graduation requirement up to local districts.

West Virginia is, under a recent law, in the midst of determining its plan for whether and how it will count computer science toward graduation.

Jennifer Dounay Smith, the author of the report, said that state policies regarding credit are just a first step in getting more students to take the subject.

"It's great if you can use computer science as a credit for math or science, but what if your high school doesn't offer computer science?" she said. "And if they do, do they have a qualified teacher? Even if they have a qualified teacher, does that teacher have some sort of supports, online or otherwise, to ensure high-quality instruction day in and day out?"

Vol. 36, Issue 05, Page 5

Published in Print: September 21, 2016, as States' Push for Computer Science Grows
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