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Computer Science Courses on the Decline

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Intro and AP CS in High Schools

Computer Science Teachers Association

A decline in U.S. high school computer science (CS) courses is indicated by the Computer Science Teachers Association's (CSTA's) 2009 National Secondary Computer Science Survey. Only 65 percent of about 1,100 high school CS teachers polled this spring said their schools offer introductory or pre-Advanced Placement (AP) CS classes, versus 73 percent in 2007 and 78 percent in 2005. Just 27 percent said AP CS is offered by their schools, compared to 32 percent in 2007 and 40 percent in 2005.

About three-quarters of respondents said their schools offer CS content in courses other than introductory or AP computer science classes, down from 85 percent in 2007.

"The continuing drop in students taking AP CS is a serious warning sign about the state of computing in this country, as a student taking AP typically indicates his or her interest in majoring in that field in college or pursuing a career in that area," says CSTA executive director Chris Stephenson. "Our innovation economy requires that students take an interest in computing, but a host of factors point in the other direction."

Twenty-three percent of survey participants whose schools offer CS courses reported that CS course enrollments have increased during the past three years, while 22 percent said CS enrollments have shrunk, and 55 percent saw no real change in enrollments. However, 70 percent noted that there are qualified students who are not enrolling in CS courses offered by their schools.

Thirty-one percent of respondents said the No Child Left Behind mandate adversely affected their CS programs, while 62 percent said it had no effect.

The three leading reasons cited for the decline in CS were, in descending order, rapidly changing technology, a dearth of staff support or interest, and a lack of curriculum resources. "Computer science teachers are calling out for more effective professional development opportunities, such as workshops, conferences, and networking opportunities, to keep up with the state of the field and offer rigorous and challenging courses that engage students," Stephenson says.

From T.H.E. Journal
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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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