Top Challenges Facing K-12 Computer Science Education
There’s more technology in the classroom than ever before, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
U.S. companies and organizations are expected to create nearly half a million new positions in computer and information technology in the next decade.* But are we doing all we can to prepare our K-12 students for these opportunities? For many years, we weren’t. Thankfully, there has been a recent push to include more computer science in K-12 education. About 88% of high school principals say some form of computer science learning opportunity is available to their students, whether through classes, school-sponsored clubs, or after-school activities.† However, numerous K-12 computer science education challenges remain. Here are the most pressing.
Computer Science Needs More Awareness
Computer science is, by historical measures, a brand-new field of study. It’s so new that when a recent Gallup survey asked people which school subjects they believed were most valuable to daily life, computer science didn’t even make the list.‡ That’s likely because most adults never studied computer science and don’t think of it as a school subject. That needs to change. Computers are too much a part of our daily lives—and offer too many avenues for employment—to relegate them to also-ran status. Modernizing education needs to be about more than bringing educational technology to the classroom. It needs to be about bringing technology education to the classroom, too.
Schools Need More Specialized Computer Science Classes
Computer science is a broad term. While many schools report offering some form of computer science education, not nearly as many offer the kinds of specialized education you would typically find in other subject areas; for example, most students don’t just learn “science,” they learn physical science, biology, chemistry, etc. Currently only 40% of schools offer coding or programming, 30% offer robotics, 26% offer computer graphics, and just 14% offer data analytics.† While these numbers are rising (particularly in coding and programming), there’s a real need to increase specialized computer science classes throughout K-12 education.
Parents Need to Advocate More
Only one-third of principals and superintendents say computer science education is a top priority in their schools.† How can we push more school districts to prioritize computer science? One way is for parents to advocate for more computer science classes. Currently, only 28% of parents say they’ve expressed support for computer science education to school administrators, but if more parents joined the effort, we could see meaningful change.
Schools Need More Resources
Having technology in the classroom is expensive. Both the hardware and the software can cost thousands—even tens of thousands—of dollars per class. But there’s an even larger resource problem facing K-12 schools. There simply aren’t enough teachers with the right skills to teach computer science courses. In fact, nearly two-thirds of principals say the lack of qualified teachers is a significant barrier to offering computer science classes.† Only a little over half say funding is a significant barrier.
The Education System Needs More Solutions
With the multiple challenges facing K-12 computer science education, we need more people devoted to finding solutions. That means we need more people earning the kinds of graduate degrees and graduate certificates that can lead to a career centered on K-12 computer science.
If you’re considering such a career, you can position yourself as a leader in the field by earning an MS in Education (MSEd) and/or a graduate certificate focused on integrating technology in the classroom. Both the degree and the certificate can help you acquire the knowledge you need to advance K-12 computer science education. Plus, you can earn both at an online university, meaning you don’t have to move or interrupt your full-time job to earn a master’s in education and/or a graduate certificate. In fact, earning an online master’s in education and/or an online certificate is so convenient, you can complete most of your coursework from home.
When you enroll in a master’s in education online program or an online certificate program, you can put yourself in position to become a leader in K-12 computer science education. It’s a great way to help improve our education system and prepare our students for the future.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online MS in Education degree program and an online Graduate Certificate in Integrating Technology in the Classroom (Grades K–12) program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer and Information Technology Occupations, on the internet at www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm.
†D. Royal, More Computer Science Classes Teach Coding/Programming, Gallup, on the internet at www.gallup.com/poll/196511/computer-science-classes-teach-programming-coding.aspx?g_source=K_12&g_medium=topic&g_campaign=tiles.
‡J. Jones, Americans Grade Math as the Most Valuable School Subject, Gallup, on the Internet at www.gallup.com/poll/164249/americans-grade-math-valuable-school-subject.aspx.
Prospective Alabama students: Contact the Teacher Education and Certification Division of the Alabama State Department of Education at 1-334-242-9935 or www.alsde.edu to verify that these programs qualify for teacher certification, endorsement, and/or salary benefits.
Prospective Washington state students are advised to contact the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction at 1-360-725-6400 or [email protected] to determine whether Walden’s programs in the field of education are approved for teacher certification or endorsements in Washington state. Additionally, teachers are advised to contact their individual school district as to whether this program may qualify for salary advancement.
Note to all Washington residents: This program is not intended to lead to teacher certification. Teachers are advised to contact their individual school districts as to whether this program may qualify for salary advancement.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.