Computer science remains a focus among policymakers

Computer science remains a focus among policymakers

(Calif.) Just months after the state adopted its first-ever computer science standards, California lawmakers have introduced a series of bills aimed at bolstering implementation and expanding access to computer science and other tech-centered coursework.

One bill, AB 182, would add computer science to the list of authorized subjects for a single subject teaching credential, in order to expedite the process of training new computer science teachers. AB 28 would establish a State Seal of STEM to recognize high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

AB 20, meanwhile, would create a coordinator position within the California Department of Education to help oversee the still-under-construction Computer Science Strategic Implementation Plan.

“Universal and early access to computer science education is critical to providing California’s students with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy,” Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto and author of AB 20, said in a statement. “Too many students don’t even have the opportunity to take computer science courses in California public schools, and this digital divide is often felt the most in low-income communities and school districts.”

According to Code.org, there are nearly 571,000 open computing jobs nationwide, yet only slightly more than 49,000 students graduated with computer science degrees last year.

Although many of those jobs exist in California, many students are unable to build a foundation to help them pursue those fields. Currently, close to 65 percent of the state’s high schools offer no computing classes, CDE data shows.

The computer science standards adopted in September by the California State Board of Education, while not mandatory, are aimed at increasing the number of computer science classes taught in schools throughout the state.

The standards begin in kindergarten, and by the time they graduate high school, students will be expected to understand not only how to use common computer hardware and software, but also how to create simple computer programs and debug errors in an algorithm–as well as some more complicated coding and data analysis.

The Instructional Quality Commission and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction are expected to recommend a draft implementation plan to the state board in March. The plan should address ways in which the state could broaden he pool of computer science teachers and ensure that all students have access to quality computer science courses, among other things.

Berman’s bill would create the position of “California Computer Science Coordinator” within CDE. That person would be charged with overseeing the implementation of the implementation plan once it’s been adopted.

AB 182, authored by Assemblywoman Luz Rivas, D-Arleta, aims to address the computer science teacher pipeline. The bill would add computer science to the list of authorized subjects for a single subject teaching credential, and authorize someone currently holding a single subject teaching credential in business, industrial and technology education, or mathematics to teach computer science.

And AB 28 by Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, R-Big Bear Lake, would establish a State Seal of STEM to affix to the diplomas or transcripts of high school graduates who demonstrate that they have attained a high level of proficiency in STEM fields.

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