State of CS 2023: U.S. sees biggest growth since 2018
New report on K-12 computer science education with updates on national and state-level policy, access, and participation.
The 2023 State of Computer Science Education, now in its seventh year, provides an update on national and state-level computer science education policy, access, and participation. This report reflects on the past year’s progress in K–12 computer science education, including:
- Updated data on access to computer science courses in high schools across the U.S., including participation rates by demographic groups;
- New data on elementary and middle school course offerings and enrollment;
- A description of ten recommended state policies to expand computer science education equitably; and
- Summaries of policy, access, and participation data for each state.
A Year of Significant Growth
In 2023, computer science education celebrated a remarkable year. We witnessed the most significant growth in the percentage of high schools offering foundational computer science since 2018, accompanied by a record-breaking allocation of over $120 million for computer science in state budgets at the time of this report’s publication. These achievements are a testament to the collaborative efforts of teachers, students, school districts, parents, computer science advocates, and lawmakers who have fueled this growth.
However, as we celebrate these milestones, we must acknowledge the remaining work. Despite the increased availability of computer science courses in schools, participation still lags, with just 5.8% of high school students enrolled in these courses nationwide. Notably, disparities persist regarding who has access to computer science education. Nationally, Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx students are 1.4 times less likely than their white and Asian peers to enroll in foundational computer science, even when it’s offered in their schools. Additionally, English language learners, students with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged students are underrepresented in foundational computer science relative to their overall population.
The most significant participation gap in computer science courses persists between young men and women. Nationally, only 31% of students enrolled in these courses are young women, and this percentage hasn’t changed over the past three years. However, data from states with established graduation requirements offer hope. In South Carolina, 47% of students taking computer science are female, while in Arkansas, 43% of 9th-grade students taking computer science are female — the first class affected by the state’s computer science graduation requirement. Furthermore, schools that introduce computer science in earlier grades show more balanced gender participation, emphasizing the importance of early exposure for girls.
Progress, state by state
As more states pass and adopt policies, the focus remains on encouraging equitable access and participation in this critical subject area. Building on last year’s momentum and surging interest, the Code.org Advocacy Coalition officially adopted computer science as a graduation requirement, marking the tenth policy recommendation. This move reflects a thoughtful approach to changing the trajectory of computer science education and ensuring equal opportunities for all students. With a graduation policy, we can guarantee that all students will have the chance to learn computer science.
This year, three additional states adopted a graduation requirement — North Carolina, North Dakota, and Rhode Island — joining Arkansas, Nebraska, Nevada, South Carolina, and Tennessee as the eight states that have begun implementing this policy.
Statewide policies create a sustainable and equitable computer science education environment, and the ten policies recommended by the Code.org Advocacy Coalition have accelerated the availability of computer science opportunities across schools nationwide. States that have adopted at least seven policies have 73% of their high schools offering foundational computer science, compared with 50% in states that adopted fewer than seven policies.
As attention turns toward artificial intelligence and its growing interest in the education community and beyond, there is an increased urgency to ensure our students are well-prepared for a rapidly changing world. It’s no longer sufficient for students to merely use technology; they must become creators and thoughtful contributors. Computer science will continue to play an integral role in students’ lives and education. It should remain at the forefront of advocacy efforts, policymaker priorities, and educational leadership to ensure students are adequately prepared for whatever the future holds.
— Hannah Weissman, Code.org Director of Policy, and Maggie Glennon, Code.org Senior Director of Government Affairs
About the report
Co-authored by the Code.org Advocacy Coalition, the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), and the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance, this is the most comprehensive report of progress in K–12 computer science education across the U.S. It combines state-level policy with course access and participation data in a unique way to assess the progress of the computer science community through a lens of equity and diversity. The progress we’ve made only comes with deep partnerships. We want to give a special thank you to Workiva for donating their graphic design time and talents to make this report possible, as well as the many organizations in the Code.org Advocacy Coalition, teacher advocates for CS education, and the entire computer science community.