Classroom Technology

Computer Science Education Is Gaining Momentum. But Some Say Not Fast Enough

By Alyson Klein — September 21, 2022 3 min read
In this 2015 photo, third grader Iyana Simmons works on a coding exercise at Michael Anderson School in Avondale.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Major American companies, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, union leaders, and some big-name city superintendents agree: Expanding computer science education is critical to preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s careers.

Despite that sentiment—and billions of dollars in one-time federal money for new laptops, tablets, and internet connectivity—the number of students taking computer science education courses continues to rise at just a modest pace and stubborn gaps in access to courses persist, concludes a report released Sept. 21 by, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to the subject.

A little more than half—53 percent—of U.S. high schools offered foundational computer science classes in 2022. That’s just a small increase from 51 percent the previous year, but a significant jump from 35 percent several years ago. And across all states, 6 percent of high school students are enrolled in computer science courses, up from 4.7 percent last year.

Black, Native American, and Native Alaskan students make up about the same percentage of computer science enrollment as they do of the student population in grades 9-12. For instance, Black students comprise about 15 percent of all public high school students, and about 16 percent of the enrollment in foundational computer science classes.

But Hispanic and Latino students aren’t as well represented. While these students make up about 27 percent of the teens in grades 9-12, they represent only 20 percent of those participating in foundational computer science courses.

The gap is even wider for students living in poverty, who make up 52 percent of students in grades 9-12, but only 36 percent of those enrolled in foundational computer science courses nationwide.

Girls also tend to lag behind boys in participation in the courses, making up 32 percent of high school students enrolled in foundational classes nationwide. In fact, that average ticks up above 40 percent in just three states: Maryland, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Each of those states has made computer science education a new graduation requirement or the primary way to satisfy a graduation requirement already on the books.

Just seven states have adopted’s nine recommended policies for expanding computer science education: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, and Washington. The organization’s recommendations include creating a state plan to expand computer science education, requiring that all high schools implement computer science education, establishing computer science supervisory positions in state education offices, and establishing computer science standards.

Taking those steps has started to pay off for Nevada, where 95 percent of students attend a school that offers foundational computer science, though just 4 percent are enrolled in the courses. Notably, economically disadvantaged kids make up almost two-thirds of Nevada’s 9-12 grade population, but are actually overrepresented in foundational computer science classes, at 82 percent.

Making the expansion of computer science education a policy priority “doesn’t just happen,” Jhone Ebert, Nevada’s superintendent of public instruction, said in an interview. States need support from the governor, the legislature, local superintendents, and communities.

Finding qualified computer science teachers is a challenge

Finding teachers who are qualified to teach computer science has been one of the biggest challenges schools face. Nevada has made it easier for people who have expertise in the subject—but may not hold a bachelor’s or graduate degree in it—to get certified to lead courses, in part by giving teachers credit for successful work in the computer science field, Ebert said.

Even once all the policies are in place, states must continue to follow through, Ebert said.

Her advice to states seeking to go big on computer science education? “Make sure you’re constantly working with your teachers in your classrooms,” she said. “It’s one thing to do policy, but it’s another thing to make sure that it’s implemented appropriately, and continually to look at your data” to make sure all groups of kids are benefitting.

Related Tags:


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Classroom Strategies for Building Equity and Student Confidence
Shape equity, confidence, and success for your middle school students. Join the discussion and Q&A for proven strategies.
Content provided by Project Lead The Way
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Professional Development Webinar
Disrupting PD Day in Schools with Continuous Professional Learning Experiences
Hear how this NC School District achieved district-wide change by shifting from traditional PD days to year-long professional learning cycles
Content provided by BetterLesson
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Classroom Technology Spotlight Spotlight on Online Learning & Integrity
This Spotlight will help you use tech to enhance student engagement, learn tips for creating assignments that outsmart ChatGPT, and more.

Classroom Technology 'Knowledge Is Meant to Be Shared': The Case for Open Educational Resources
Open Educational Resources can save educators time and allow them to tap into the creativity of colleagues around the country.
3 min read
Adult male teaching a lecture from desktop PC at computer lab.
Classroom Technology The Most Popular Ed-Tech Products Don’t Meet Research Standards
Only 26 percent of the most-used K-12 ed-tech products meet federal requirements, a new report says.
1 min read
Image of school space.
Classroom Technology Opinion Three Steps to Prevent ChatGPT Misuse
First, it is important to understand what the artificial intelligence tool is—and what it is not.
Spencer Burrows
4 min read
Conceptual vector illustration of Women in AI examining a virtual apple.
Wanlee Prachyapanaprai/iStock