ECS Report Shows Growing Trend Toward Computer Science

(Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons)

The Education Commission of the States, or ECS, has released the Education Trends report that examines graduation requirements regarding computer science classes. The report notes that many states have changed their graduation requirements to encourage districts to offer computer science courses.

The report:

"… identifies states that are allowing or requiring districts to apply computer science coursework toward completion of high school graduation requirements in math, science or foreign language. This report also highlights several states that require computer science courses to fulfill requirements for a specialized diploma or endorsement to the standard high school diploma."

The report found that 14 states now require students to be allowed to fulfill a math, science, or foreign language credit with a computer science course. In an age where computer knowledge is nearly a mandatory skill for a growing number of jobs, this push for offering and requiring computer science courses is a strong starting point for students.

The report noted that four states, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia, award a special diploma or endorsement upon graduation for students who have earned certain computer science credits. There is a growing number of college-bound high school graduates, and allowing special recognition in important areas for marketable skills might make a vital difference in students' continued educational success.

Virginia appears to be leading states on the path toward endorsing students to take computer science courses. The report found that Virginia students can fulfill math or foreign language requirements with computer science courses. Virginians can even fulfill a science credit with the courses if the students still meet the lab requirement portion of another science class.

Ohio is taking the computer science endorsement further in some regards by requiring computer science classes be taken for graduation. For students in the graduating class of 2018 and onward, one of their four math credits must be taken from computer programming, probability, and statistics, applied mathematics or quantitative reasoning.

"Computer science and coding skills are widely recognized as a valuable asset in the current and projected job market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 37.5 percent growth from 2012 to 2022 in the "computer systems design and related services" industry — from 1,620,300 jobs in 2012 to an estimated 2,229,000 jobs in 2022," the report said.

Some states have decided to endorse the computer science field by showing students the importance of that skill set in the workplace. The report found that Michigan is allowing students to completely fill the Algebra II requirement with a formal career and technical education, or CTE, program. The state might be the first to show students the impact computer science skills could have on their future careers, but with the current push to emphasize those courses, they may not be the last.

Many states have taken slightly simpler approaches, possibly hoping that individual districts or school boards will step up and push the computer science classes without needing any direct guidance. California, Utah, South Carolina, and Wisconsin, among others, have decided to allow computer science courses to count toward math requirements. While this isn't an in-depth an approach as other states have taken, the report still sees it as a move in the right direction.

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