Editor's note: Ensuring the appropriateness, value, and impact of our efforts in the computer science education space first requires an understanding of the issues which broadly impact the discipline, its practitioners and its students. This article is part of our ongoing effort to explore those issues and share our learnings along the way, which you can find at g.co/csedu.
If you're a student in a U.S. middle or high school, it’s likely that you do not have access to a computer science (CS) class where you learn how to program. If you’re Hispanic, Black, or from a lower-income household, your chances of having access to computers or CS learning opportunities are even slimmer. Today, in collaboration with Gallup, we're releasing Searching for Computer Science: Access and Barriers in U.S. K-12 Education, our landscape study of CS access and barriers in K-12 education.
We've known anecdotally that CS educational opportunities are lacking in our schools, but no recent study has provided a comprehensive look at what's happening on the ground with input from critical stakeholders including students, parents, and educators. More data and rigorous research on CS in schools was -- and still is -- needed to properly address these educational disparities.
Building on ideas from our 2014 study Women Who Choose Computer Science, we partnered with Gallup to conduct this comprehensive study of the state of CS education in the U.S. to both inform our K-12 education outreach efforts and enable equitable access to CS opportunities. Gallup surveyed nearly 16,000 respondents nationally, including 1,673 students, 1,685 parents, 1,013 teachers, 9,693 principals, and 1,865 superintendents. We asked these stakeholders about opportunities, limitations, awareness, and perceptions of CS education.
The full report Searching for Computer Science: Access and Barriers in U.S. K-12 Education contains key findings that we hope will inform the ongoing work in the field and inspire others to take action. Here are a few highlights:
Technology & Learning: Many students lack access to CS education, and racial disparities in exposure to the subject matter exist.
- 3 in 4 principals say their schools offer no CS programming/coding classes
- Of the schools that do offer CS classes, the curriculum is often lacking and only 21% offer Advanced Placement level CS
- Hispanic students are less likely than other groups to have access to computers with Internet at home and are less likely to use computers everyday at school; Black and low-income students are less likely than other groups to have access to CS at school; Girls are less likely than boys to have learned CS
- Nine-in-ten parents see CS education as a good use of school resources, and two-thirds of parents think computer science should be required learning in schools, with parents in lower-income households even more likely to hold this view
- Over 80% of students think they will learn CS in the future
- CS is not a high priority in most schools and districts, and a number of barriers make it difficult for schools to offer CS
- 91% of parents want their child to learn CS, but less than 8% of administrators believe parent demand is high
- Less than 30% of educators say CS is a top priority in their school or district Administrators tell us that the need to devote time to courses related to testing and a lack of trained teachers are the top barriers to offering CS in their schools
Today’s report is the first of a series of studies with Gallup. Our next installment will explore perceptions about CS, including stereotypes and unconscious biases that might limit some students from pursuing CS. Given the critical nature of computer science education in training the next generation of technologists, this research also provides a call to action for parents, teachers and school districts as they think through integrating this into their curriculum.