FACT SHEET: New Commitments to Support Computer Science Education
“I’m proud to join the students, teachers, businesses, and non-profit organizations taking big new steps to support computer science in America’s schools. Learning these skills isn’t just important for your future – it’s important for our country’s future. If we want America to stay on the cutting edge, we need young Americans like you to master the tools and technology that will change the way we do just about everything.”
-- President Obama, December 2013, on Computer Science Education Week
Last year, to kick off Computer Science Education Week, President Obama issued a call to action to students, teachers, businesses, foundations, and non-profit organizations to join the growing grassroots campaign to support computer science education in K-12 schools.
The President encouraged Americans from all backgrounds to get involved in mastering the technology that is changing the way we do just about everything, and he encouraged millions of students to learn the skills that are becoming increasingly relevant to our economy.
Today, the Administration is announcing new commitments that will help give millions of additional K-12 students access to computer science education. These include:
- Commitments by more than 60 school districts, including the seven largest school districts in the country, to offer computer science courses to their students. Together, these districts reach over 4 million students in more than 1,000 high schools and middle schools, in partnership with Code.org.
- Over $20 million in philanthropic contributions to train 10,000 teachers by fall 2015 and 25,000 teachers to teach computer science to in time for the school year beginning in fall 2016.
- New partnerships by the National Science Foundation (NSF), including a new Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science course by the College Board that emphasizes the creative aspects of computing and a focus on real-world applications. Leading partners, including Teach for America and the National Math and Science Initiative, will assist in implementation and scale-up of the course.
- New steps to increase the participation of women and under-represented minorities in computer science, including a new computer-science classroom design prize and innovative outreach efforts.
These commitments and leading organizations will be highlighted at an event today at the White House. In addition, the President released a new video message on computer science education and the President and the Vice President will jointly meet with a group of students participating in an Hour of Code.
By 2020, more than 50 percent of STEM jobs are projected to be in computer science-related fields. If current trends continue, 1.4 million computer science-related jobs will be available over the next ten years, but only 400,000 computer science graduates will be added with the skills to apply for those jobs. Yet a large majority of K-12 schools do not offer any computer programming classes, and in 25 out of 50 states, computer science classes cannot count towards math and science high school graduation requirements.
That is why as part of Computer Science Education Week last year, the President praised efforts to get more computer science into K-12 schools and issued a call to action to private sector leaders, technologists, schools leaders, and others to do more to give students access to these critical skills.
Commitments Being Announced Today: Expanding Computer Science Offerings to Millions More Students
There is a growing grassroots movement in the United States to bring computer science education to K-12 schools. With leadership from Code.org, the movement has already helped introduce more than 50 million students to computer science through the “Hour of Code,” with more than 40 percent of participants being girls, and through other projects and initiatives supporting computer science in more than 60,000 classrooms across the country.
Today, responding to the President’s 2013 call to action, philanthropic organizations, cities, non-profits, and others are announcing a major expansion of this grassroots effort, including:
- Commitments to offer computer science by more than 60 school districts, including the seven largest school districts in the country. The New York City (NY), Los Angeles Unified (CA), Chicago (IL), Miami-Dade County (FL), Clark County (NV), Broward County (FL), and Houston (TX) school districts, and many smaller districts, together reach more than 4 million students in more than 1,000 high schools and middle schools and serve nearly 15 percent of the African American and Hispanic American student population in the United States. Each of these districts is committing to offer introductory computer science courses at the high school or middle school grade levels and to market these courses to their students and their parents. Code.org will assist districts by providing teachers with curriculum, professional development, and year-round support.
- Over $20 million in philanthropic contributions to train 25,000 teachers to teach computer science in time for the school year beginning in Fall 2016. With support from companies including Google, Microsoft, the Omidyar Network, and Salesforce.com, as well as philanthropists including Ballmer Family Giving, John and Anne Doerr, Bill Gates, Reid Hoffman, Drew Houston, Sean Parker, Ali and Hadi Partovi, Diane Tang and Ben Smith, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Code.org will host computer science instruction workshops for 1,000 elementary school teachers each month. Workshop participants will learn how to teach modules of computer science for grades K-5. Code.org also has committed to preparing at least 500 middle school teachers and 500 high school teachers each year to teach computer science.
Furthermore, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is announcing major steps from its non-profit partners to support computer science education. These announcements build on nearly ten years of NSF investment and fall under NSF’s CS 10K Project, a nationwide effort to get engaging and rigorous academic computer science courses into 10,000 schools taught by 10,000 well-prepared teachers and a longer-term goal to include all schools across the nation.
Over the past decade, NSF has invested in research into and development of curricula, course materials, pedagogy, scalable models of teacher preparation, and approaches to sustainable, ongoing teacher support. Today, NSF is highlighting this work by launching a new web portal that showcases the agency’s investments in computer science education.
With leadership and key support from NSF, a number of leading education non-profits are announcing major expansions in their efforts to support computer science education:
- The College Board is announcing the launch of AP Computer Science Principles, a new multidisciplinary course designed to help recruit many more students, including women and under-represented minorities into computing. The new course will be taught in secondary schools starting in the 2016-17 academic year with the first exam administered in May 2017. The course will draw more students into the discipline by focusing on foundational computing skills and the creative aspects of computing. The inherently multidisciplinary course teaches students to analyze problems, create computer programs, and collaborate to find solutions to real-world issues. AP Computer Science Principles aims to prepare a more diverse student population—including groups typically underrepresented in computing—for the demands of STEM and computing coursework and careers. The course was created with partial funding from NSF for the development of teacher support materials and assessments. A dedicated online teacher community will enable teachers to connect, discuss teaching strategies, and share resources with each other. Furthermore, AP STEM teachers will be invited to participate in a live webinar focused on computer science education during this year’s Computer Science Education Week.
- Teach For America will begin a nationwide push to encourage partner schools to offer computer science. Building on an NSF-funded pilot project in New York City, AmeriCorps grantee Teach For America (TFA) is beginning a nationwide push to expand computer science course offerings in the schools they serve. By 2018-2019, TFA will recruit, place, and support a diverse group of at least 75 new teachers to implement the Exploring Computer Science course in high-needs schools. TFA will also advance the President’s STEM AmeriCorps initiative by promoting opportunities for their extensive, national network of educators to engage in after-school and out-of-school computer science teaching opportunities sponsored by partners.
- The National Math and Science Initiative will expand its professional development offerings in computer science, reaching 25 states in the next two years. The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) is committing to broadening access to and achievement in rigorous computer science coursework through its College Readiness Program, a comprehensive approach to raising the academic bar in U.S. schools by working with teachers, students, and administrators to set and achieve aggressive performance goals. NMSI will broaden training and learning opportunities around AP Computer Science Principles, as well as Exploring Computer Science and equivalent courses, in 25 states by the end of 2016.
- Project Lead the Way will continue to grow its computer science offerings. Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and Verizon will enable students in 12 underserved middle schools to explore the power of computational thinking and the connection of digital literacy to their lives. Verizon will supply PLTW with up to 35 tablets equipped with data plans for each school, allowing for a 1:1 student-to-tablet ratio in each of the 12 schools participating in PLTW’s Introduction to Computer Science course. Students will use MIT App Inventor to learn fundamental computer science concepts that apply to a range of disciplines, future studies, and careers. Student teams will work collaboratively and learn the impact of computing in society, and how to use the internet safely and responsibly.
- NSF and Code.org announce a public-private partnership. NSF and Code.org are signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to encourage and facilitate cooperation on respective efforts to support and enable widespread computer science education throughout the United States. NSF and Code.org are already collaborating on projects such as Massachusetts Exploring Computer Science, the joint result of NSF and Code.org awards to the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN) and the Massachusetts Exploring Computer Science Partnerships (MECSP). The new MOU will provide a structure through which NSF and Code.org can expand their work, and co-develop additional projects and programs.
- Massachusetts continues to grow a unique public-private partnership to introduce computer science education in its K-12 schools. MassCAN is a multi-partner initiative in Massachusetts working cooperatively with projects funded by both NSF and Code.org to bring computer science to high schools across the state. The purpose of the partnership is to offer professional development to K-12 teachers based on a standard-based curriculum, with a goal of training 3,000 teachers over 3 years. Recently, Massachusetts enacted economic development legislation including $1.5 million to help fund the MassCAN during the program’s first year. Today, MassCAN is announcing that Massachusetts industries, led by the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, and the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, have committed to raise $300,000 in matching funds and are mobilizing to match the remainder of the State grant during 2015.
New York City will implement the College Board’s new AP Computer Science Principles course in 100 high schools and will expand computer science offerings overall. With support from NSF, 100 New York City (NYC) high schools will introduce University of California at Berkeley’s “Beauty and Joy of Computing” as a new AP Computer Science Principles course in 2015. This represents a significant expansion of NYC AP computer science course offerings and a dramatic increase in the number of students exposed to computer science curricula. NYC has already taken a number of steps to help advance computer science education, including:
- The New York City Department of Education launched a Software Engineering Pilot designed to provide multi-year sequences of computer science classes at 18 middle and high schools citywide. Today, the program is in its second year and serves a diverse body of 2,600 students, 40 percent of whom are girls.
- With support from the New York City Foundation for Computer Science, programs like TEALS, Bootstrap, ScriptEd, and Scalable Game Design are providing NYC schools with a wide range of opportunities to introduce computer science curriculum and learning activities into the regular school day for the first time.
- With AT&T Aspire support, students from the Academy for Software Engineering, Bronx Academy of Software Engineering and the Software Engineering Pilot participate in cross-school community events such as hackathons and showcases of student work, as well as summer learning opportunities and internships with local companies. NYC has also begun introducing students to the Maker experience by offering 3D printing classes in select schools.
Commitments Being Announced Today: Broadening Diversity in Computer Science
Improving the participation and success of women and underrepresented minorities in computer science is critical. The number of women completing college degrees in these fields has decreased over the last two decades, and a smaller percentage of U.S. high school students take computer science courses than they did two decades ago. Today, less than 20 percent of students enrolled in AP computer science courses are women or girls, and less than 10 percent are Hispanic or African-American. Furthermore, less than 20 percent of college graduates in computer science are women. A number of leading organizations are taking new steps to address this challenge, including:
- The USA Science and Engineering Festival will launch a prize for computer science classroom design. The USA Science and Engineering Festival is announcing a classroom-design prize competition that will launch on January 5, 2015. Research has shown that small changes in classroom design elements can dramatically affect the attractiveness of computer-science courses to girls. The competition will engage teams of high school students around the country to create cost-effective and innovative designs for K-12 computer science classrooms that encourage more young women to study computer science and pursue careers in STEM. The competition will run throughout spring 2015, and the most innovative ideas will be awarded with cash prizes. Some of the prize winners will be considered for further in-classroom testing and potential deployment in classrooms around the country. The entries for the competition will be student-driven, and the design of the competition was led by the Youth Advisory Board to the USA Science and Engineering Festival in partnership with the Dell Youth Innovation Advisors.
- A new nationwide initiative to engage Latinas in technology careers. Latinas represent the fastest-growing female population in the U.S. Including their perspectives and talent in information technology is vital to growing our innovation economy. In collaboration with major Latino community influencers and organizations, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is launching a nationwide initiative to engage Latinas in computing and technology careers. NCWIT will leverage its research capabilities and national network of partners to design and launch a national media campaign and supporting program to give Latinas the inspiration to explore technology careers, the resources to engage in computer science, and connections to computer science support networks. Central to this initiative will be strategies to engage Latino parents, families, and influencers in supporting Latinas’ pursuit of technology education and careers. The project will launch on January 20, 2015 with a working roundtable of Latino leaders who will inform messaging and support the implementation of the campaign.
- #YesWeCode expands efforts to more youth from under-represented communities into coding. #YesWeCode, a national initiative of Dream Corps Unlimited to support the movement to train 100,000 low opportunity youth to become high-level computer programmers, is announcing that it will host a series of 4-6 youth-focused hackathons in key cities in 2015 including in New Orleans, Detroit, and Oakland. At these hackathons, local youth will team up with professional developers, innovators, designers and mentors to create apps to benefit their communities. This will complement #YesWeCode’s efforts to incubate a national job-training pipeline in Oakland, in partnership with the public school district, major tech employers, independent grassroots coding education groups, and other major community stakeholders. The job-training three-step pipeline is designed to guide youth from introductory coding programs, to immersive job-training programs, and eventually into employment. Once fully realized in Oakland, the plan is to replicate nationally.