To Up Student Enrollment in Computer Science, Ark. Offers Schools Incentives

By Liana Loewus — August 18, 2016 1 min read
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Support for computer science education is on the upswing, but more than half of 12th graders attend high schools that don’t offer the subject, we reported recently.

A growing number of states have put policies in place over the last few years to try to get more K-12 students taking computer science—with Arkansas being considered a leader in this realm. The state requires every public high school to have a computer science course.

But making courses available doesn’t necessarily mean students will take them. Indeed, we know from the above-mentioned NAEP data that while 44 percent of 12th graders have access to computer science, just 22 percent of students say they’ve taken classes in the subject.

The Arkansas education department is attempting to make headway here through a new incentive program. Last week, the department announced a “computer science enrollment contest,” to begin in the 2016-17 school year.

Through the program, the governor will recognize schools with the largest number of students enrolled in computer science courses, as well as those with the largest percentage of students enrolled.

And one school will be selected by lottery to receive a “technology prize package” (contents TBD). Schools can get additional lottery entries by having more students enroll in computer science courses, hiring more teachers with a computer science endorsement, holding Hour of Code events, and publicly promoting the computer science initiative.

It will be interesting to see if more states take up this kind of tactic to improve computer science enrollment (and also to see if it works). Though Virginia probably won’t need to—it’s the only state so far to have made computer science a requirement for all elementary, middle, and high school students.


A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.