Chairman Bucshon, Ranking Member Lipinski, on behalf of Code.org and its advocacy arm -- Computing in the Core -- thank you for the opportunity to testify about our goal of giving every student in
Last month, over 17 million students across
When we talk about the "STEM" crisis in our economy and schools, we are really talking about a computing crisis. In fact, according the Conference Board, demand for computing professionals is roughly four times higher than the average demand for all other occupations, with more than 580,000 jobs in computing open as of
Despite these facts, most K-12 schools do not offer computer science, and students are not expected to be exposed to it at any level. In fact, last year, only 1 percent of Advanced Placement (AP) students studied in computer science. And only a tiny fraction of that 1 percent are women and underrepresented minorities. n3 Computer science is simply not part of what we call the "core" curriculum in our schools. It is an afterthought. As a result, cohort after cohort of students are being denied the knowledge and skills they need in our increasingly digital world. Our K-12 schools teach students how to dissect a frog, or how electricity works -- it's time they also taught how to "dissect an app", or how the Internet works.
It's not easy to add a new, rapidly-evolving field to the K-12 curriculum, but it's a challenge our schools must meet. The
This committee has heard many times from organizations and leaders within the computing community about the challenges and need to improve K-12 computer science education. I want to echo those remarks and build on them by describing how Code.org is bringing community and corporate leaders together to give students access to computer science education.
Code.org is a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science education by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Our vision is that every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer programming.
I started Code.org in 2012 as a personal mission with my twin brother,
The Hour of Code
In the last few years, I often thought about how impactful it could be to introduce every American student to computer science for just one hour. Everywhere I went, I heard people express how important computer programming skills are for today's generation of students, so when Code.org grew into a staffed organization only months ago, we decided to immediately challenge Americans to get behind this cause.
The Hour of Code campaign aimed to demystify computer science, to encourage students to try it for just one hour through online tutorials hosted by Code.org and others. Code.org itself developed an introductory computer science activity -- in collaboration with engineers from
When Code.org announced the Hour of Code in October, the goal to teach 10 million students for 1 hour was an ambitious one. The vision proved to be an enormous success. Last month, 20 million students participated in computer science, including 1 in 4 students in kindergarten through 12th grade in the US. Perhaps even more astonishing was that half of these students were girls. As you can imagine, Code.org relies on statistics and analytics to measure progress, and the results of just this one week blew us away. In U.S. schools, more students participated in computer science during Computer Science Education Week 2013 than had ever taken computer science in the history of our K-12 system.
The results were widely covered by media. There were pieces in
Communities reported on local Hour of Code events everywhere from
What was even more stunning than the data on participation was the outpouring of support for the Hour of Code from educators. Too often our national narrative is how our schools, teachers and leaders are failing students. The Hour of Code story was much different. Teachers, principals and superintendents in every part of America took the initiative to bring this educational experience to their students. Over 12,000 U.S. schools signed up to host an Hour of Code event for the entire student body. We heard stories from teachers about students "working together for the first time to solve problems," or that they "didn't even know coding was something you could teach students", but that "it turned out to be one of the smoothest class periods we've ever had." Most importantly, teachers reported that students came back wanting more. In the past month, 10,000 teachers have signed up 500,000 students for our follow-on 20-hour, online Introduction to Computer Science course. This is a complete 20-hour curriculum that is in 10,000 classrooms today.
Parents also played a big part in the success of spreading this campaign. They have a deep sense of how important technology is today, but its creation is somewhat of a mystery. Every American feels that technology is moving so fast they can hardly keep up; technology is passing them by, and they don't want their children to fall behind too. The Hour of Code gave every parent the opportunity to open a window to the world of technology for their children and to better understand computer science themselves.
But one hour of code is only a first step. We have given 1 in 4 students in the U.S. a taste of computer science. But it raises the question: why isn't this a fixed part of our school system? Now local, state and national leaders need to come together to bring computer science into the core of our education system. Code.org, in collaboration with it partners both within and outside of the computing community, hope to work with our national leaders on this mission.
Bringing Computer Science to ALL Students
Code.org believes computer science should be part of the core curriculum in education, starting as early as elementary school. Our goals include: (1) Bringing Computer Science classes to every K-12 school in
Our mission is carried out via three program pillars: educate, celebrate and advocate.
Our education pillar aims to create modern, engaging computer science curriculum for all levels of K-12 students and to partner with school districts to deliver instruction. We are bringing two high school computer science courses to scale -- Exploring Computer Science and AP Computer Science Principles:
. Exploring Computer Science n5 is a nationally recognized introductory college preparatory computer science course and includes curriculum, professional development, and assessments. ECS is composed of six foundational units with lessons that are designed to promote an inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning foundational concepts in computer science and highlighting the computational practices and problem solving associated with doing computer science.
. Computer Science Principles n6 is currently in a pilot phase that will inform the ultimate development of an AP[TM] exam in 2016-2017; this course is far more than a traditional introduction to programming and the fundamental concepts of computing. It is a rigorous, engaging, and approachable course designed so that each student will understand how these concepts are transforming the world we live in and how each student can use the concepts in their own lives, studies, and in collaborating to participate in the transformation.
Both of these courses are designed to broaden participation in secondary computer science and prepare students for post-secondary experiences related to computing or college majors in computer science. They are supported by top experts within the computer science education community and have been developed with the support of the
Our district partnerships encompass curriculum for elementary, middle and high schools and professional development for teachers. More information on our partnership program, including how you can help us bring computer science to the schools you represent, can be found at: http://code.org/educate/districts.
During Computer Science Education Week, we announced two of the largest of our partnerships -- agreements with
Our celebrate pillar works to neutralize negative stereotypes of the field, inform students of the benefits of studying computer science, and inspire them to do so. The focus of this area has been the Hour of Code effort noted in the previous section and our original video "What Most Schools Don't Teach." Today, the stereotype is that computer science is for genius nerds, often portrayed in the media as Asian or white teenage boys. Thanks to the Hour of Code campaign, 10 million girls learned an Hour of Code last month. We hope our continued efforts will break the stereotype permanently.
Our advocacy pillar works on policy issues at the federal and state level, through our sister effort Computing in the Core. More detail on proposed federal policy reforms and recommendations are noted below. Our main goal is either removing barriers that hinder computer science instruction or passing policies that will bolster its instruction.
At the state level, our headline goal has been to "make computer science count," which means allowing existing courses to satisfy an existing core math or science graduation requirement. Making computer science courses "count" would not require schools to offer computer science or students to study it; it would simply allow existing computer science courses to satisfy a requirement that already exists. Only 17 states allow computer science to satisfy a core high school graduation requirement at present.
Computer science courses often do not count towards a student's required coursework - they are treated as electives. Given the academic demands, college-bound students cannot afford to take computer science as an elective. AP Computer Science courses are about 50 percent larger in states that "count" AP CS compared to those that do not. n7 And a study from the
I should note that the Chairman's home state of
The support for this policy change is both bipartisan and growing. In 2013 six states --
We are now increasingly beginning to look toward states where statewide policies and programs can support the expansion of computer science in K-12 schools. State education authorities should be planning their computer science offerings across the state just as they do other core academic offerings. We will be working with states to put new policies in place to make statewide computer science adoption a reality.
The successes of Code.org in large part are due to a unique combination of both private and public partnerships. Code.org supporters include dozens of the best-known tech companies and their founders, as well as the
The Hour of Code campaign is an example of Code.org's ability to leverage a diverse partner network to execute a national awareness campaign. National student and teacher facing nonprofits like the
Additionally, the campaign had the backing of the computer science education community at large. We recruited other tutorial providers (both non and for-profit groups) such as
Moving forward, Code.org hopes to expand and formalize current partnerships as well as establish new ones to build on our education and advocacy goals. Code.org isn't the only organization in this space, but we have established an unprecedented scale in computer science education by partnering with leading organizations and individuals from the tech industry, education non-profits, and government.
We don't expect to do everything ourselves; we expect to provide an overall umbrella for dozens of organizations (public or private) to collectively bring computer science to the nation's schools. Our founding roots come from warring tech companies (
Federal Policy Reform to Strengthen Computer Science Education
When I started to educate myself on the reasons computer science isn't taught in our schools, I found what you all know--there are countless federal, state and local policies that determine what is ultimately taught in our schools. I have learned much about the No Child Left Behind Act, the Higher Education Act, Career and Technical Education programs, the
Computer science is not treated as a "core academic subject" in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It is not an element of the accountability rubric states put together as part of the improvement plans required by the federal government in return for Title I funds. Computer science teachers are not eligible for the same professional development supports as their math and science teacher colleagues. Getting certified to teach computer science is an ambiguous and confusing process in most states, and almost impossible in a few. A few changes to existing programs could make it much easier to give students the opportunity to learn computer science.
I am thankful that both the Chairman and Ranking Member and other members of this committee have supported modest, no-cost changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that are proposed in the Computer Science Education Act (H.R. 2536) by cosponsoring the bill. And while they aren't members of this panel, I'd like to also thank Congresswoman
The Computer Science Education Act makes simple changes to federal law to ensure computer science is at the table when local education decisions are being made. It is an important first step
More directly related to the purview of this Committee, I urge you to ensure that computer science is explicitly included as a focus of public investments and policy goals. Even the definition of "STEM" in existing statutes marginalizes public investments in computer science. "Science, technology, engineering and mathematics" doesn't explicitly include computer science, which is problematic in the regulatory process at certain agencies and in the award process at others. I hope that revisions to any laws that include a definition of STEM will explicitly include computer science. When it is not explicitly included, it is quite often implicitly excluded, because it is easier for school systems to focus only on the topics they already teach, such as biology, chemistry, physics, or calculus.
There is some good news on this front. Recently, the
The palpable interest in giving the country's young people access to computer science has buoyed the policy efforts of Code.org, Computing in the Core and the members and supporters of both organizations. We will work on a number of policies to broaden access to computer science. For example, in America COMPETEs, we will work to make sure that computer science teachers--prospective and practicing--are supported in the same way that math and science teachers are. In addition, we are hopeful that the
While I am encouraged by the response to the Hour of Code and Code.org to date, I know that much work lies ahead. We are building on years of work from so many people and organizations committed to the cause of expanding access to computer science, and we're busily developing curriculum and recruiting professional development facilitators to get high-quality computer science courses in as many schools as possible--as soon as possible. As I said earlier, I have learned that changing education requires working with stakeholders of every size and policymakers of every disposition at the local, state and federal levels. As a result, Code.org and our partners are collaborating with districts on agreements related to teacher supports and classroom resources; we are working to get computer science to count as a high school graduation credit is as many states as possible; and, we are sharing our arguments with you and your colleagues for changes to federal programs and policies that currently don't respect the importance of computer science in the educational landscape.
The modern day icons of the American Dream have gotten where they are through computer science. I truly believe that the availability of computer science to all kids is an issue that warrants immediate and aggressive action. And, thankfully, I'm not alone.
While the tech industry is known for many things, agreeing among themselves on big issues is not one of them. Except for this one. Apple,
With 17 million US students participating in the Hour of Code in December, I claim that our students have voted with their actions: that learning computer science is this generation's Sputnik moment, that it's part of the new American Dream, and that it should be available to every student, in every school, as part of the official curriculum.
I look forward to answering any questions you might have, and thank you again for the opportunity to testify today.
More information about Code.org, Computing in the Core and our partners, the Hour of Code tutorial, the inspirational videos that highlight the need for more computer science and the work of our talented team of engineers and education professionals is available on our website at www.code.org.
n1 Source -- US Conference Board Help Wanted Online Service
n2 Source -- Code.org analysis of BLS 2010-2020 employment projections (we have not yet analyzed the BLS 2012-2022 projections released at the end of December).
n4 Based on Code.org analysis of Google analytics and geolocation data from Computer Science Education Week. Due to constraints on this analysis, there is a +/- 10% margin of error in the numbers.
n5 see, http://www.exploringcs.org/
n6 see, http://www.csprinciples.org/
n7 Code.org analysis of College Board AP data
n8 CSTA/My College Options, Annual Research Report 2013
Read this original document at: http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-113-SY14-WState-HPartovi-20140109.pdf
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