Computer Science Education

Black Families Rate Importance of CS as a Subject Higher

All families consider computer science to be an important subject for their kids to learn. But that's especially true for black parents and guardians. While 69 percent said it was "important" or "very important" for their children to learn CS, 78 percent of black families said the same. In fact, the number of black parents who said it was "very important," was 52 percent, compared to 32 percent of White parents and 37 percent of Hispanic parents.

Similarly, while six in 10 parents and guardians (61 percent) said that it was likely their child would need to know CS for a career someday, among black families, that share was 71 percent. Among Hispanic families it was 63 percent and for White families it was 60 percent.

Those results surfaced in a survey done by Gallup in a project supported by Google. Gallup interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,402 public and private school students in grades 7-12, as well as 2,092 parents and guardians of students in those grades and 979 public and private school teachers of students in grades preschool through 12.

Black Families Rate Importance of CS as a Subject Higher

How various people rated the quality of computer science learning offered in their schools. Source: "Current Perspectives and Continuing Challenges in Computer Science Educationin U.S. K-12 Schools" from Gallup and Google

There was also a higher propensity of families of male students who pegged CS education as important (71 percent) compared to families of female students (67 percent). While 58 percent of families of female students expected their children to have to know CS for work one day, 65 percent of families of male students said so.

The survey found that parents and guardians of male students were more likely than parents and guardians of female students to report that their child was confident in learning computer science (79 percent compared to 66 percent). The size of that gender confidence gap was "notably the same as the gap between male and female students themselves," the report stated.

While 35 percent of families have encouraged their students to pursue a CS career, 53 percent of teachers said they have done so. When students were asked whether an adult in their lives had encouraged them to seek a CS job someday, slightly more black and Hispanic students (49 percent and 54 percent, respectively) said yes than White students (40 percent). However, the adult encouragement primarily went to male students (52 percent) than female students (37 percent).

That wasn't the only kind of gap uncovered in the survey. While most teachers, principals and superintendents said they consider offering CS courses just as important to a student's future as other core subjects, that sensibility was truer among school and district leaders. Three-quarters of superintendents (75 percent) and principals (73 percent) concurred that CS was just as important as English, math, history and science, while 66 percent of teachers did.

While almost six in 10 superintendents (58 percent) agreed that CS was currently a top priority in their districts, only 18 percent of public-school teachers and 28 percent of principals said CS was treated as a top priority.

Also, whereas 38 percent of district leaders and 36 percent of school leaders rated the quality of CS at their schools as "excellent" or "very good," 29 percent of teachers rated it equally high.

Sufficient "resourcing" and policymaking lie at the heart of CS education success, the report suggested. Just one in four (27 percent) superintendents said their states had made CS education funding and resources available (and 78 percent have used those resources in their districts), "It will certainly take more resourcing to boost students’ interest, aspiration and competency in computer science," the report noted. "It will also take effective policymaking that prioritizes and addresses learning standards, certification, development and infrastructure support. Perhaps most critically, it will take ongoing collaboration among families, educators and policymakers to integrate computer science learning within existing curricula to give all students a chance to choose a pathway in the expanding world of computer science."

Google and Gallup will host a virtual Zoom panel discussion on Sep. 30 at noon Pacific time to discuss key takeaways from the report.

"Current Perspectives and Continuing Challenges in Computer Science Education in U.S. K-12 Schools" is openly available through the Google website.

About the Author

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