Computer Science Education Week, December 7-13, 2015

Forwarded on behalf of White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics joins the U.S. Department of Education, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the National Science Foundation to celebrate Computer Science Education Week from December 7-13, 2015.

Studying computer science can help students build skills that they need to succeed in school, in life, and in any profession; skills such as persistence, innovative problem-solving, creative thinking, and collaboration. Computer science is an expanding field, presenting many opportunities to young people looking for exciting, relevant work in our increasingly global, knowledge-based economy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer programming jobs are growing at two times the national average.

Yet in computer science education and throughout the computer science profession, there are great disparities that impede opportunity for students and competitiveness for our country. According to the College Board, which is responsible for administering the Advanced Placement (AP) program, less than 5 percent of high schools currently offer AP computer science. In 2013, just over 7.5 percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields were in computer science. Yet, a student who takes AP computer science in high school is 4.5 times more likely to major in this critical field. In the computer science profession, there is a startling underrepresentation of women and minorities, including Hispanics, with less than half of computer science bachelor’s degrees awarded to minority students and just over 14 percent to females. And, while Latinos make up 19 percent of the college-aged population, they receive only eight percent of bachelor’s degrees in computer science.

Our goal for this week is not only to increase awareness about the inequity of access to computer science, but also to take action in making commitments to ensure more students can benefit from expanded educational opportunity through computer science. The STEM Education Act signed into law in October 2015 permits federal funding that has been allocated to STEM to be used toward computer science education. This opens doors for educators to train teachers and to add computer science to course offerings at schools across the country. To make a commitment to increase access to computer science courses, please visit the White House’s commitment form here.

Throughout Computer Science Education Week, events will be held nationwide for administrators, teachers, and students to engage in computer science activities. Today, December 7, 2015 from 8-9 p.m. EDT, join us, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans and the National Science Foundation on an #EdTechChat focused on the importance of increasing the participation of minorities in computer science.

Also, be on the lookout for ways to engage on social media throughout the week (#CSEdWeek and #CompSci), to share stories of students in computer science all across the country. For more information about CS Ed Week events, visit the White House blog.

If you’d like to support Computer Science Ed Week in your own community, consider highlighting a local school that offers computer science classes; hosting a CS tech jam; blogging about computer science; organizing an Hour of Code event in your community; or nominating a CS educator, student, parent, organization or community leader to be recognized as a Champion for Change.

When we provide opportunities to all of our students, we empower them to pursue passions that they might not have known existed. Now is the time for educators to discover computer science as an essential part of every student’s learning. Join us for CS Ed Week, and let’s build a community of computer scientists where everyone has the chance to be a part. Thank you for your support in this movement for equity.