San Antonio Magnet School to Debut Computer Coding Program

The 80/20 Foundation and the San Antonio Independent School District have collaborated to introduce computer coding classes in Texas, which will be the first such program in the state and the second-largest of its kind nationwide.

According to James Aldridge of San Antonio Business Journal, the computer coding classes will start this fall at Highlands High School. The school's teachers attended a two-day training session in August on CodeHS, a web-based platform that is designed to teach high school students the basics of coding.

Around 400 students will participate in the CodeHS program at Highland, which is San Antonio's science and technology magnet school.

Founded in 2012 by Stanford University graduates Zach Galant and Jeremy Keeshin, the CodeHS program is designed to simplify coding by turning lessons into interactive games. The program enables users to write their own code and includes dozens of tutorial videos.

According to Galant and Keeshin, exposing high school students to programming early could create a larger pool of computer programmers in the job market in the future.

"The games and interactive learning teach students to focus on problem solving," says Zach Galant, founder of CodeHS. "Most schools do not currently offer a coding class like CodeHS, we are making coding accessible to the everyday students and providing a gateway into more programming education."

Highlands High School freshmen will be the first to utilize the CodeHS program. In 2014, the students, then sophomores, will serve as mentors for the younger kids.

"This project will play a role in building a generation of San Antonians who will be a step ahead of their peers when it comes to cloud computing knowledge," says 80/20 Foundation Executive Director, Lorenzo Gomez. "Software is an integral part of today's world, there is no job that doesn't use at least a small amount of software. The employees who know how to use or fix the software will rise above the ones who do not. They will have competitive edge in the high-skilled, high-paying tech job market and position San Antonio as the cloud computing capital of the world."

Texas isn't the only state moving forward with coding and programming. The Boston Globe reports that some of the titans of the technology industry including Microsoft and Google are calling on schools to introduce mandatory computer science courses earlier in students' academic careers in Massachusetts. The companies want public schools in Massachusetts to help fill the skill gap currently being made up by foreign-trained professionals brought over to the United States on H1-B visas.

The industry wants to see lessons in computer science begin as early as 8th grade and also would like technology achievement tested like other subjects on end-of-the-year standardized assessments. Furthermore, they're calling for a creation of standardized computer science curriculum covering grades all the way through high school.

If the plan is adopted, it would make Massachusetts the second state to make technology instruction mandatory in public schools after a similar program was adopted in South Carolina.

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