By Liana Heitin
Computer science courses are often inaccessible for black, Hispanic, Native American, and low-income high school students in California, according to a new study.
The report, released yesterday by the nonprofit Level Playing Field Institute, confirms other recent research on computer science and underrepresented students. For instance, last year not a single black student took the Advanced Placement computer science exam in 12 states, and no Hispanic students took it in six states.
The authors of Path Not Found: Disparities in Computer Science Course Access in California High Schools point out that California public school students’ enrollment in computer science courses is lackluster overall. Sixty-five percent of public high schools in the state offer no computer science courses. Just 13 percent offer the AP computer science course.
And 10 of the state’s largest 20 districts do not offer computer science at all.
But the numbers are most dismal at low-income and majority-minority schools, the study found, using data from the California education department.
by Tom Chorneau
(Calif.) In 1987, when IBM was still a player in the desktop computing market and Apple’s primary product was still the Mac, officials overseeing teacher preparation programs in California began work on designing a supplemental authorization that would cover the new emerging industry.
As unlikely as it might seem, the content study required to gain the Computer Concept and Application Supplemental Authorization hasn’t changed since – despite the breakneck speed at which electronic technology has evolved in the last 30 years.
Perhaps even more ironic is that every K-12 teacher that has come through the system over the last decade has been exposed to at least as much computer science content training as required for the supplemental authorization.
To remedy the imbalance, the state’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing has launched an update of the computer science specialty – although intentionally only an interim step as broader questions surrounding instruction in coding, web design and telecommunications are considered.
Still, officials at the CTC acknowledge that the existing requirements for obtaining the computer science authorization are almost embarrassingly out of date.
By Julie Flapan
Fourth graders in Matthew Chan’s class are enrolled in a rigorous STEM school – Science, technology, engineering and math – at Folsom Cordova Riverview Elementary School in Rancho Cordova, Calif. Manny Crisostomo firstname.lastname@example.org
Coding is to computer science is what a hammer is to carpentry; it is just one important tool in the toolbox. Thanks to an audacious goal of having 100 million students try coding for one hour during Computer Science Education Week starting Monday, it’s easy to understand why coding has captured so much attention, yet computer science remains misunderstood.
Computer science is often confused with educational technology or digital learning. Computer science doesn’t only teach how to use computers or facilitate learning; it teaches students to be “creators” of technology. This distinction is important because as computers have become ubiquitous in our daily lives, young people presume they already know what it takes to operate their devices – but that’s not enough.
The discipline of computer science requires deeper learning so that students think critically and creatively, solve complex problems and develop sequential reasoning, algorithmic and computational thinking. These are the skills that students need to design applications and advance innovations that enrich society, across all fields. Computer science provides fundamental knowledge students need to be prepared for college and careers in the 21st century.
By Lillian Mongeau, EdSource Today and KQED
Joe Sanbria (seated), 16, gets help from his classmates with the programming language Python at Foshay Technology Academy in Los Angeles. Credit: Lillian Mongeau
Half a dozen bills before the state Legislature address the growing concern that California students don’t have the computer science skills necessary to thrive in the modern workforce.
Educators and tech industry leaders would like high schools to teach students more than just how to use a computer – the goal now is for students to be able to program one. Computer science shouldn’t be a niche field for the highly educated any longer, advocates say.
“I’m not saying every child should become a programmer, but I do think it’s important for every child to have some basic level of skill in computer science,” said Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto.
Schools need to focus on what makes computers work, not just on how to use them.
By Jane Margolis and Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco
Student gets help as she and her teacher explore the possibilities with their new LAUSD-provided iPads. (Los Angeles Times / August 27, 2013)
Computer science is driving innovation across all fields, so it makes sense that the Los Angeles Board of Education wants to provide its students with access to the latest technology. Students who develop expertise in computer science will have automatic career advantages. But is the district taking the right steps?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that computing occupations are among the fastest-growing job categories in the United States and that such jobs pay about 75% more than the national median annual salary. Unfortunately, only a narrow band of students — predominantly white and Asian males — is developing the necessary skills to step into these high-paying jobs in computer science. Latinos, African Americans and girls of all ethnic backgrounds are being left behind. In 2013, 29,555 students took the Advanced Placement computer science exam, but only 18% were female, 4% African American and 3% Mexican American.
by Annie Gilbertson, Southern California Public Radio
These Bell High School students meet after school twice a week to practice basic coding and cyber security. The high school canceled it Computer Science course this year. (Annie Gilbertson, KPCC)
CyberPatriot is possibly the geekiest high school club in history. Sponsored by the Air Force Association, a dozen teens from the city of Bell meet after school to learn to code.
Like most of the club members, senior Erika Aguiluz aspires to become a computer scientist. Aguiluz said if it weren’t for the couple of hours she’s spent coding after school, she may not have considered the career.
“You grow up in your community: you are kind of blinded to the whole world,” said Aguiluz. “For all you know, there could be green people out there.”
Half of this group is young women and everyone is Latino – faces rarely seen in a high tech world dominated by white and Asian men.