By Kathryn Scott, MEd
Director, Strategic Educational Alliances
Computer science is woven into the fabric of our culture and used in almost every field, driving job growth and innovation throughout our economy and society. According to an article on LinkedIn, computing occupations are the number one source of all new wages in the U.S., making computer science one of the most in-demand college degrees.
Yet, a 2015 Gallup poll found that about 91 percent of our K-12 parents want their child’s school to teach computer science, but according to a 2016 Gallup poll, only 40 percent of the schools teach it.
Why is Computer Science Important?
We live in a digital age, where technology is growing exponentially and our schools are slow to change. Today’s schools must be doing more to prepare our children with skills that will equip and prepare them for a more successful STEM and computing future.
It is essential that students are exposed to the field of computer science in our K-12 system, as it is foundational in transforming the way a student thinks about the world. It not only teaches them about technology, but it also teaches them how to think differently about any problem. Our 21st century students must have a chance to be producers of technology, design an app or an algorithm, learn how the Internet works and solve problems that will face them in a multitude of fields.
Bringing Computer Science to AZ Classrooms
Schools in Arizona have an opportunity to bring this important subject to their classrooms through the Code.org (a 501 c3 non-profit) Regional Partnership shared between Grand Canyon University (GCU) and Science Foundation Arizona (SFAZ).
With Code.org’s support and curriculum, GCU and SFAZ are collaboratively training K-12 Arizona teachers to implement computer science education in classrooms across the state through no-cost curriculum programs:
- Computer Science Fundamentals one-day workshops for grades K-6
- Computer Science Discoveries teacher cohorts for grades 7-9
- AP Computer Science Principles teacher cohorts for grades 9-12
Building a robust pipeline of K-12 computer science education and opportunities provides students with the knowledge and experiences needed in preparation for rigorous university STEM and computer science programs.
However, in order to provide a fundamental shift in computer science education in Arizona, we need policymakers to address many of these issues:
- Access to K-12 computer science courses, particularly for underrepresented populations (including underserved minority students, rural areas and female students)
- Require all high schools to offer a high-quality computer science course
- Allocate funding for rigorous computer science teacher professional learning and course support
- Establish rigorous K-12 computer science standards
Just as learning to read and write are essential, so is learning computer science. Computer science opens more doors for students than any other discipline in today’s world, so why wouldn’t we want it to be fundamental?
To learn how your school can participate in our workshops or how we can advocate for computer science in Arizona, contact Kathryn Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about STEM degree programs at GCU, visit our website or contact us using the Request More Information button at the top of the page.
- English, Cynthia. “Parents, Students Want Computer Science Education in School.” Gallup. Retrieved from gallup.com/poll/184637/parents-students-computer-science-education-school.aspx
- Partovi, Hadi. “Computing jobs are now the #1 source of new wages in America.” LinkedIn. Retrieved from linkedin.com/pulse/computing-jobs-now-1-source-new-wages-america-hadi-partovi
- Royal, Dawn and Art Swift. “More K-12 Computer Science Classes Teach Programming/Coding.” Gallup. Retrieved from gallup.com/poll/196511/computer-science-classes-teach-programming-coding.aspx