The report points to several tactics universities use to deal with their inability to meet growing demand for computer science courses, including restricting the size of the major, discouraging non-majors from taking courses, and charging a premium for computer science classes.
Promise and Recommendations
Nager and Atkinson say the outlook for computer science education is improving, however. Spearheaded by nonprofit initiatives, the importance of coding and computer science has led to concerted efforts to increase the number of students taking computer science courses, provide teachers with resources, and generate interest in the field.
The authors offer a series of recommendations for federal and state policymakers to leverage this momentum:
• Reform curricula for existing technology classes to focus on core concepts of computer science in primary and secondary schools
• Allow computer science to count as either a math or science requirement in high school
• Teach computer science in all high schools
• Increase the number of qualified computer science teachers by providing resources to train and recruit
• Establish more STEM-intensive public charter high schools
• Create incentives for universities to expand their offerings in computer science and prioritize retaining students interested in majoring, minoring, or taking courses in the field
“Graduates with skills in computer science are an incredibly valuable resource for the U.S. economy,” said Atkinson. “It is not enough to rely on the ‘market’ to determine the number of workers with computer science skills, if for no other reason than because key educational institutions do not adequately respond to market signals. It is incumbent on states and the federal government to require or incentivize educational institutions to further develop their ability to train a broader group of students in computer science. Expanding computer science education should be considered an essential component of U.S. innovation and economic growth policy.”
Material from a press release was used in this report.