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those states. We don’t have data on who
is taking CS across the U.S., due to our
state-centric, decentralized model of primary and secondary school education.
California and Texas are among the
leaders in implementing CS education.
Both are members of the Expanding
Computing Education Pathways (ECEP)
Alliance ( https://ecepalliance.org/). Reports from ECEP states tell a similar
story. For example, in Indiana, the most
popular high school CS course enrolled
only 2% of students in the state (http://
bit.ly/2oAq6Q6). Miranda Parker is finishing her dissertation on factors influencing CS adoption at the high school
level, and she’s found only 1% of high
school students in Georgia take a CS
course. I suspect states not involved in
ECEP have lower participation in CS, not
higher. Given these numbers, it would
be hard to believe more than 4% of U.S.
high school students take a CS course.
One surprise for me in these reports:
many U.S. high schools offer CS. I wrote
a BLOG@CACM post in 2012 (http://bit.
ly/2ox5NDl) estimating about 10% of
high schools in the U.S. offered comput-
er science. Today, that number is much
larger. In Texas, it is 43%. In California, it
is 39%. In Georgia, it is around 40%, and
about 1/3 of high schools in Indiana of-
fer CS classes. The high schools that do
offer CS are most often in larger (wealth-
ier) high schools. Many students could
take those classes. But they do not.
A decade ago, I thought the reason so
few students were taking CS was access.
Today’s data paints a different story.
Even if CS is in the high school, few
students sign up for it. Those who do
are mostly male (71% in California, 74%
in Texas). Some states are better at getting underrepresented minorities into
CS classes. It’s 48% in Texas. In California, only 16% of AP CS A exam takers are
members of underrepresented groups.
Some states might decide this is not
a problem; 3% may be enough. U.S. universities still reeling from overwhelming numbers of students in CS classes
( http://bit.ly/2oCXoOs) might not want
more students to become interested
in CS at the high school level. I hear
from schools that most introductory
CS students they get have already had
high school CS. These are compatible
numbers. There are 15. 3 million high
school students in the U.S.; 3% of that
is around 450,000 students—which I
expect is more than the number of students in university intro CS in the U.S.
If CS participation numbers increased
at the high school level, probably more
students would want to take CS at the
university level (even if not as a CS major). Universities would have to restructure to manage such an enormous load.
Both the U.K. Computing at School
A Minuscule Percentage
of Students Take High
the United States:
Access Isn’t Enough
September 2, 2019
If I told you only 4% of all high school
students in the U.S. were taking science
or math classes, you’d be aghast. That’s
such a tiny percentage! If 96% of students were not getting science or math
classes, you could reasonably argue it
does not exist in any practical sense.
Over the last few months, several reports provided new insights about U.S.
high school computer science (CS):
˲ In California, only 3% of 1. 9 million
high school students enrolled in CS in
2017 ( http://bit.ly/2pq5k TH).
˲ In Texas, 3.76% of its students
completed a CS course in 2017–2018
California and Texas are two largest
states based on U.S. population, but we
can’t generalize to everyone based on
Getting High School,
Interested in CS
Mark Guzdial considers how few U.S. high school students take
computer science, while Robin K. Hill shares what she’s learned
in teaching first-year college computing students.