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Recognize the Whole Value of Computer Science Education

student writing in notebookTeens who don’t aspire to “tech” careers and parents of young students may question the value of computer science education. The fact is, CS courses are far more than lessons in coding. 

Coding is a big part of computer science learning and it has intrinsic value. At the same time, computer science education also focuses on computational thinking. That’s the process of breaking down large problems or data sets, recognizing patterns, reorganizing information and testing potential solutions. Those are fundamental problem-solving skills needed across careers. They’re also important to basic American life. 

As our CEO Bernard Harris has said, “Computational thinking is critical to successfully processing all the information that inundates all of us daily.” 

As a medical doctor, med-tech investor and a history-making astronaut, Dr. Harris understands big challenges and the need to find creative solutions. 

Unfortunately, minority students only accounted for about 20 percent of students who took the College Board’s Computer Science Principles exam this year. Female students made up less than 30 percent. 

A coalition of nine national organizations recently committed to address those gaps by helping local education leaders develop custom K-12 computer science offerings. Those options will include incorporating CS lessons across classes and grade levels. 

The gaps are created by a lack of early exposure to computer science. Shortages in CS instructors and advocates at school and district levels and misconceptions about the importance for all students to take CS courses also contribute to participation gaps. 

This is alarming because missing out on this critical learning and skill development will affect individual prosperity. National security also could be affected as cyber security needs and jobs that demand computational skills and dispositions continue to grow.  

The coalition - NMSI, along with Beauty and Joy of Computing, Bootstrap, Exploring Computer Science, MIT App Inventor, Mobile CSP, NCWIT Counselors for Computing, Project GUTS, and UTeach Computer Science – will kick off its work in 2019 with training for teachers in three San Antonio school districts. The supporting organizations will take feedback from the launch sites to evolve their efforts and NMSI expects to incorporate the K-12 programming into its flagship College Readiness Program.  

Want to learn more? Reach out to customerservice@nms.org with any questions.

Watch the announcement from the 2018 CS for All Summit:


Do your students have consistent access to high-quality computer science education? Follow us on social media and share your experiences.