As schools reopen, states act to support K-12 computer science

So far in 2021, states across the U.S. have made great strides in implementing computer science education policy.

21 U.S. states have allocated funding for computer science this year.

The state of our schools, communities, and the world has changed drastically in the past year. Policymakers are increasingly engaged on issues that impact our jobs, security, and way of life, both now and in the future. That’s certainly true for progress being made in computer science education policy across the nation in 2021.

So far this year, states have demonstrated a renewed focus on ​​a set of nine policies to make computer science foundational in K-12 education systems.

While there surely will be more to come before the end of the year, we’re rounding up some of the highlights and milestones states have reached this year.

We’re celebrating more than $68 million in NEW funding for CS

Twenty-one states have allocated $68,368,542 million in funding for computer science this year alone. Since the Advocacy Coalition began its work in 2015, states have budgeted a cumulative $260 million for districts and schools!

Overall, 33 states have made funding a priority in their state budgets. This represents tremendous growth in the importance states have placed on computer science as part of K-12 education since 2015 when only four states had allocated funding.

Funding computer science efforts allows states and communities to invest in teacher professional development, the single most important factor in getting computer science to all students across the nation. California allocated $5 million for their educator workforce investment grant, which will fund training for teachers in CS, as well as $15 million for teacher credentialing.

Meanwhile, in Texas, $2.5 million was provided to expand AP CS Principles opportunities for high schools that currently do not offer the course.

Progress made: States requiring CS

In total, 23 states require their high schools to teach at least one computer science course — and three new states have joined their ranks in 2021.

Oklahoma and Mississippi both passed legislation that requires every school in the state to provide computer science education opportunities to students, at all grade levels by the 2024–25 school year.

Illinois made huge strides with a requirement that all high schools provide a computer science course by 2023–24.

Additionally, Arkansas has required CS in all of its high schools since 2015 but has now expanded that effort to require each public high school student to earn one unit of credit in an Arkansas Department of Education-approved high school CS course before the student graduates.

20 policies for CS in 13 states

In addition to funding, 13 states have passed policies that will significantly expand computer science opportunities for students. New Mexico, for instance, created a state plan for CS, hired a state CS supervisor at the Department of Education, and passed legislation requiring the Department of Education to create a CS endorsement!

All of this progress is critical because computer science is now more important than ever. The pandemic has accelerated the pace at which jobs are being done from anywhere, and more and more states are investing in their K-12 systems to ensure students have the skills and knowledge to prepare them not just for the workforce, but their lives and security now and in the future.

—The team

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