Computer science education plays second fiddle to other STEM subjects in classrooms, according to a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.
According to the report, released Tuesday, just half of states count computer science as a math or science credit rather than as an elective, and the majority of the country does not have teacher certification programs in the in-demand subject.
“Despite the growing use of computers and software in every facet of our economy, computer science education is just beginning to gain traction in American school systems,” said Adams Nager, economic policy analyst with ITIF and lead author of the report.
Nager added that more kids in California are taking ceramics, rather than computer science, classes.
“We need to shift perceptions of computer science,” he said. “We should stop treating it as a fringe, elective offering, or just a skills-based course, and start viewing it as a core science on par with more traditional subjects like biology, chemistry and physics.”
Other findings include major gender and racial disparities — about 20 percent of students taking Advanced Placement computer science are female, and less than 10 percent are Hispanic and less than 4 percent are black.
Universities, like K-12 schools, also are not keeping up with the growing demand.
The report concludes that college officials are not willing to allocate more resources to computer science classes, which are typically more expensive to offer than liberal arts or social sciences courses.
Universities also face funding cuts, and have few incentives to take on more costs, according to the authors.
They advocate for making computer science a core subject, allowing the classes to count as a math or science requirement in high school, and increasing the number of qualified teachers.
“Expanding computer science education should be considered an essential component of U.S. innovation and policy growth,” said ITIF President Robert Atkinson.