Given the huge demand for highly-trained computer experts and engineers, secondary education is already trending towards a marked increase in computing classes. Now, Congress is considering a bill to help close the skills gap and strengthen our national competitiveness. The bill, currently in the House of Representatives, is the Computer Science Education Act (HR 2536).
Introduced by Representatives Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO), this act would remove barriers that make it difficult for states to use Federal funding for computer science education. What’s more, it would not introduce any new programs or mandates, and therefore would remain cost-neutral.
The act amends title IX (General Provisions) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 <link> to include computer science as a core academic subject. “Under the amendment, ‘computer science’ is defined as the study of computers and algorithmic processes, including the study of computing principles, computer hardware and software design, computer applications, and the impact of computers on society.”
Brooks and Polis also included a list of findings that favor stronger computer science education. A few of these findings include:
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be 9,200,000 jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics by the year 2020. Half of these, or 4,600,000 jobs, will be in computing
- In the 2012-2013 school year, only nine states allowed computer science courses to count toward secondary school core graduation requirements, chilling student interest in computer science courses
- While students who take the College Board’s AP computer science test are eight times more likely to major in computer science in college, in 2011, only 1 percent of all AP exams were in computer science. The test also highlighted the STEM gender gap with male test takers outnumbering females by four to one
Last week, the bill gained its 100th supporter. With 60 Republicans and 52 Democrats signed on as co-sponsors, the Computer Science Education Act is now the most broadly cosponsored education bill in the House.
The Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) have already established a four-part curriculum framework that would support the bill’s goals and guide local and state computer science efforts. The first level would be intended for K-8, focusing on basic computer literacy skills. Level two would relate computer science to the modern world. Level three focuses on computer science as analysis and design. Finally, the fourth and optional level would be for advanced high school learners.
As interest continues to grow in computer science, Jones & Bartlett Learning provides a wide selection of texts that improve learning outcomes and provide career readiness. For more information or to view our Computer Science texts, visit jblearning.com/computing.