SIGCSE: Open Challenges
Building a Creative,
Allyson Kennedy, AAAS science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation and
Janice Cuny, National Science Foundation
“Idon’t just want my students to be ready for the 21st century, I wantthem tocreate it.”
High school Exploring Computer Science
and CS Principles teacher
Computational skills and competencies are becoming imperative in our increasingly digital world. While the past ten
years have seen considerable progress in terms of access and
participation in computing education, the challenges that remain must be addressed to achieve true equity for all students.
FRAMING THE MOST PRESSING ISSUES IN
COMPUTER SCIENCE EDUCATION
The landscape for computer science (CS) education is rapidly changing. Just a decade ago, rigorous CS courses were only
offered as electives, if they were available at all, and only nine
states conferred math or science graduation credit on them.
Even fewer states had reasonable CS standards or certification
pathways for teachers. The students who did take CS, were
overwhelmingly white and Asian males—the only Advanced
Placement® (AP) CS course at that time, CS-A, had by far, the
worst gender imbalance of any AP classes.
Much has changed over that decade. Today, 29 states have
adopted K- 12 CS standards, 28 now have CS teacher certification pathways, eight require all high schools to offer at least one
academic CS course, and 16 allow CS to satisfy math or science
graduation requirements [ 2].
These changes are in response to the growing recognition
that computing skills and competencies are increasingly funda-
mental to a wide array of disciplines, careers, and student inter-
ests. Most—if not all—of today’s students will need,
... the ability to make digital technology do whatever,
within the possible, one wants it to do—to bend digital
technology to one’s needs, purposes, and will, just as [we
bend] ... words and images. [ 7]
Whether they will become software engineers, scientists
or educators, architects or engineers, journalists or historians,
musicians or artists, students will need to be computationally savvy. Not only will they need to understand the basic concepts of computation and their applications in problem solving,
but they will also need to comprehend the social and ethical
Figure 1: Elementary school students learn to code through a hands-on
Time4CS lesson in Broward County, FL.