Indiana makes progress as CS thought leader

December 5th, 2016

Today marks the beginning of Computer Science Education Week, a national initiative designed to bring awareness to the importance of K-12 computer science education.

To kick off this special week, Nextech partnered with AT&T Indiana to host an Hour of Code at the Indiana Statehouse. The location of this event was significant for a very critical reason…it showcased that for Indiana to become a national leader in K-12 computer science, a significant commitment must be made at the state level.

Why? Because statistically:

  • Less than 30 percent of Indiana high schools offered an introductory computer science course in 2015-16
  • Only 62 schools in Indiana–which equates to 15 percent of Hoosier schools with AP programs–offered the AP Computer Science course in 2015-16
  • In 2016, only 782 high school students in Indiana took the AP Computer Science exam

To drive the effort to bring computer science education to every Indiana school, Nextech has partnered with Code.org, a national nonprofit dedicated to expanding access and increasing the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in computer science initiatives.

As Code.org advocates for the widespread adoption of K-12 computer science education, they’ve developed this helpful guide: Nine Policy Ideas to Make Computer Science Fundamental to K-12 Education.

Indiana has made a great deal of progress in many of the Code.org policy guidelines. AP computer science courses now count as satisfying a graduation requirement in mathematics. Several universities–including IU and Ball State–have programs for education majors to acquire an additional certification in computer science. Indiana also has full computer science standards for K-12 students.

However, work must still be done if Indiana wants to be considered a computer science education thought leader.

Take, for example, the comparative accomplishments of these states:

  • In 2016, Idaho passed a comprehensive computer science bill that allocated $2 million in funding for standards development, curriculum implementation and the creation of a computer science start-up fund.
  • As part of their 2016-18 state budget, Virginia allocated $550,000 in 2017 and $550,000 in 2018 for computer science teacher training.
  • Arkansas passed a 2015 law requiring all public and public charter high schools to offer a computer science course beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. They also appropriated $5 million from the state’s general improvement fund to the Department of Education for computer science initiatives.

Measured, successful educational progress doesn’t happen overnight, though. It takes a dedicated community of thought leaders working together to make systemic change. The future workforce must be comfortable with emerging technologies and must also acquire the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for success.

The pathway for honing those skills? Computer science education.

That’s what Computer Science Education Week is all about–bringing awareness to the discipline and skills needed to prepare Indiana students for success in today’s highly competitive and rapidly evolving workforce.

That sounds like a cause for celebration to us!

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