Curriculum

Half of High School Seniors Attend Schools That Don’t Offer Computer Science

By Catherine Gewertz — August 17, 2016 1 min read

By guest blogger Liana Heitin. Cross-posted from Curriculum Matters.

Advocacy for teaching computer science to K-12 students has grown rapidly in recent years, with educators, state and local policy makers, and even the president making their voices heard on the matter.

Yet a new analysis of national data shows that just 22 percent of 12th graders say they’ve ever taken a computer science course. And more than half of seniors attend high schools that don’t even offer computer science.

The analysis, by Change the Equation, a nonprofit group that mobilizes the business community to improve STEM learning, looked at data from the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is given to 12th graders and includes survey questions for students, teachers, and schools.

It found that only 44 percent of seniors have access to any computer science classes. Less than a quarter of seniors have access to Advanced Placement computer science courses.

As Claus Von Zastrow, the chief operating officer and director of research for Change the Equation, told me by email, some schools may be counting keyboarding classes as computer science, which could be inflating the access number for non-AP computer science.

The data also confirmed that low-income students are less likely to have access to computer science courses than higher-income students. And black and Native American students were much less likely than Asian and white students to attend high schools offering the subject. (Interestingly, Latino students were about as likely as white students to go to a school with computer science, and slightly more likely than white students to attend one with AP computer science. That seems to conflict with some previous research.)

For more information, see the Change the Equation blog post.


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A version of this news article first appeared in the High School & Beyond blog.