2020 State of CS report shows less than half of U.S. schools teach CS

  • States should develop policies and plans focused on getting computer science into new schools so that every student can have access to high-quality computer science education.
  • Within schools that offer CS, administrators, teachers, and counselors need to make a concerted effort to reach students from underrepresented groups and states need to develop more robust data systems so we can evaluate this progress.

“Within ECEP, we’ve seen that in order to maintain a focus on equity, state-wide advocacy and policy strategies must be informed by data. Data shows us who is missing in CS pathways and can highlight early and systemic indicators of inequity,” said Carol Fletcher, Principal investigator of the ECEP Alliance. “We are working with states to identify indicators of broadening participation and encourage more states to build the disaggregated data infrastructures necessary to measure and track their broadening participation in computing efforts.”

Access and participation in foundational CS courses

For the first time ever, the State of Computer Science Education report is able to report on which high schools teach foundational computer science and which do not.

“We’re incredibly proud of the teachers across the country stepping up to ensure more students learn computer science,” said Jake Baskin, Executive Director of the CSTA. “But the unfortunate truth is that most schools still do not offer computer science, and the vast majority of students do not take a single CS course. Moreover, this year’s report makes it clear that deep inequities still exist in the field, and we call on policymakers and instructional leaders to support their teachers in eliminating these inequities; a key approach is funding professional development focused on equity and inclusion in the CS classroom.”

Even when schools offer computer science, the demographics of students taking the courses do not match the student population. Students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in computer science (including Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students), English-language learners, students with disabilities, and students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals are less likely to take computer science courses even when they are offered at their school.

Bright spots

There’s still much work to be done, but this year’s report reveals bright spots, particularly in terms of statewide adoption of policies that support computer science education.

A more inclusive approach to CS

But even with these gains, it is not enough to declare victory when students from underrepresented groups still do not have equal access to computer science.

We’re in this together

We urge administrators, teachers, and counselors in schools that offer computer science to make a concerted effort to reach out to students from underrepresented groups, and we call on states to develop more robust data systems so we can evaluate this progress. We’re also asking state policymakers to develop policies and concrete plans focused on getting CS into new schools, so that every student can have access to high-quality computer science.

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