Code.org has announced a partnership with the College Board to bring computer science classes into more high schools across the country. The organizations together will offer to 35 of the largest school districts in the nation the opportunity to offer computer science classes. Hadi Partovi co-founder of Code.org considers the partnership a significant step for the discipline of computer science.
College Board, which is a non-profit organization that administers standardized tests for college admission, will help Code.org to fund teacher training so that top quality computer science education can be provided more easily.
One of the main objectives of College Board and Code.org is to bring more women and minorities into computer science education. Partovi believes that the new Preliminary SAT exam for grades 8 and 9 will make it easy to identify students with an aptitude for computer science irrespective of their demographics, Taylor Soper reports for Geek Wire.
The schools that use the PSAT to identify such students will be eligible for getting curriculum, training and funding for establishing programming classes.
The need for computer science graduates is steadily growing, but there is especially a shortage of coders. Quartz’s Sonali Kohli observes:
“There’d be more people to fill these jobs if there were more computer science graduates, and there’d be more graduates if more people could start the subject in high school. And yet it’s difficult to find a high-quality computer science class in American high schools, let alone a programming class.”
According to Kohli, information technology was the STEM field with the most job postings in 2013.
The lack of computer science education in schools is partly attributed the decentralization of public schools and partly to the fact that schools have a hard time defining Computer Science, either as a standalone subject or as part of any of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields on the STEM spectrum.
During the 2014 PSATs, over 165,000 female students showed aptitude for computer science, but only 2.5 percent actually enrolled in an AP Computer Science course. Out of 33,000 black and Hispanic students that also showed a natural ability for coding, only 4.7 percent enrolled for the course and its exam.
“Low-income urban schools regularly assume ‘our kids can’t do it’ and school administrators often assume the girls can’t do computer science. This will help dispelled these myths,” Patrovi says.
Other organizations beside Code.org, such as Black Girls Code and Google’s own Made with Code, have brought more young women into computer science. Intel has also vouched to invest $5 million for creating computer science courses in the next five years in two Oakland, California high schools.
Code.org is backed by Microsoft founder and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Its primary vision is to get every US school to offer computer science classes to students to address the shortage of programmers in the United States.