Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill yesterday mandating that all public high schools in the state offer computer science classes.
The law will go into effect for the 2015-16 school year. Schools will be allowed to offer the courses in-person or online.
According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the governor campaigned on the promise to increase access to computer science and considers the bill a win.
As I reported last year, there seems to be growing interest in teaching computer science in schools. It’s unclear exactly how many high schools nationwide offer computer science, but some have estimated it’s as low as 1 in 10.
More states have been passing laws allowing computer science courses to count as math or science credits toward graduation. As of a year ago, 17 states and the District of Columbia had put such policies in place. The nonprofit Code.org reports that number is now up to 25 states.
Like those states, the bill in Arkansas would permit the computer science coursework to count towards credits in math and science. The governor said the policy will give students an incentive to try the subject.
Nationally, the bill comes just as there’s been a recent focus on improving the representation of girls and minorities in computer science courses. In Arkansas last year, just 19 percent of students who took the Advanced Placement computer science exams were female.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.