STEM Education

Just 36 Teachers Across U.S. Graduated in 2016 Ready to Teach CS

In 2016, a total of 36 new teachers graduated from an American university ready to teach computer science. Texas produced the largest number of them — 15. Forty-one states didn't graduate a single new teacher prepared to teach CS. In spite of a national emphasis on the importance of computer science, just a third of high schools (35 percent) teach the subject. The outlook is worse for schools in rural areas or that have higher percentages of under-represented minority or poorer students. That's the picture offered in "2018 State of Computer Science Education: Policy and Implementation," a new report produced by the Advocacy Coalition and the Computer Science Teachers Association. The advocacy group brings together 50-plus industry, non-profit and other organizations to advocate for the addition of CS as a core part of K-12 education.

This report examined the country's enactment of nine policies directed at making CS a fundamental part of K-12 education:

  • Creating a state plan for K-12 computer science; currently, only six states have these.
  • Defining what the subject is and establishing K-12 CS standards, such as the ones developed by the CS Teachers Association; 22 states have standards in place.
  • Allocating funding for professional development and course support; 19 states have dedicated funding.
  • Implementing "clear" certification pathways for CS teachers to follow, in place in 33 states, plus the District of Columbia;
  • Adding CS instruction to college teacher training programs; 13 states have adopted state-approved preservice teacher preparation programs in their universities and colleges.
  • Establishing dedicated CS job roles at the state and local level, to help broadcast best practices among districts, such as is done in 14 states.
  • Requiring high schools to offer CS, like 15 states already do.
  • Allowing CS as a core graduate requirement, which is in place in 39 states plus the District of Columbia.
  • Letting CS satisfy core college admission requirements; right now, 17 states allow that.

The report also provided a state-by-state assessment of the policies adopted. Currently, 44 states have enacted at least one of the policies. That's a step up from 2013, when the coalition started its work and just 14 states adhered to at least one policy. However, according to the researchers, those states that enact "more" of the policies tend to have a greater number of schools that provide students with access to CS education.

A key driver for success is having state funding dedicated to providing existing teachers with CS professional development. Where that's taken place, the success rate is 1.7 times higher than in states without the direct funding.

The report is openly available on the website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.