51% of High Schools in the U.S. Offer Computer Science Courses, but Disparities Persist

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New report provides comprehensive analysis of national progress in expanding access to computer science education

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Today, Code.org, the Computer Science Teachers Association, and the Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance, released the 2021 State of Computer Science Education: Accelerating Action Through Advocacy. The report shows, for the first time, that a slim majority — 51% — of all U.S. high schools now offer foundational computer science, up from 35% in 2018. The latest data reveals that disparities exist for who has access to and who participates in computer science education. Students who attend rural schools, urban schools, or schools with higher percentages of economically disadvantaged students are less likely to have access to computer science.

Published annually, the report provides the most comprehensive analysis of national progress in computer science education, featuring national and state-level policy and implementation data with a focus on equity and diversity.

The report updates each state’s status toward adopting the nine policies recommended by the Code.org Advocacy Coalition and includes updated school-level data collected for the K-12 Computer Science Access Report on the availability of computer science in high schools.

“It’s time for policymakers, industry leaders, and stakeholders to advocate for policies that make computer science a fundamental part of the education system. By following the data, trends, and recommendations in the 2021 State of Computer Science Education, we can work toward eliminating access and participation gaps and look forward to a world where every child everywhere has access to computer science,” said Dr. Katie Hendrickson, president of the Code.org Advocacy Coalition.

Key findings from the 2021 State of Computer Science Education report include:

51% of high schools in the US offer foundational CS (up from 47% last year), but disparities still exist in terms of who has access and who participates. Rural schools, urban schools, and schools with high percentages of economically disadvantaged students continue to be less likely to offer computer science.

Black/African American students, Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx students, and Native American/Alaskan students are less likely to attend a school that offers it.

Across 37 states, only 4.7% of high school students are enrolled in foundational CS.

Nationally, Black/African American, Native American/Alaskan, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students are represented in computer science courses at similar rates as their overall population, but disparities differ by state.

English language learners, students with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged students are underrepresented in high school computer science relative to their state populations.

Fewer disparities exist in computer science participation for students in K–8 than in high school and beyond: Female students make up 49% of the elementary students enrolled in computer science, 44% of the middle school students, and only 31% of high school students enrolled in foundational computer science.

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About the Code.org Advocacy Coalition
Bringing together more than 70 industry, non-profit, and advocacy organizations, the Code.org Advocacy Coalition is growing the movement to make computer science a fundamental part of K–12 education.

About the CSTA
The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) is a membership organization that supports and promotes the teaching of computer science. CSTA provides opportunities for K–12 teachers and their students to better understand computer science and to more successfully prepare themselves to teach and learn.

About the Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance
The Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance is an NSF-funded Broadening Participation in Computing Alliance (NSF-CNS-1822011). ECEP seeks to increase the number and diversity of students in computing and computing-intensive degrees by promoting state-level computer science education reform. Working with the collective impact model, ECEP supports an alliance of 22 states and Puerto Rico to identify and develop effective educational interventions and expand state-level infrastructure to drive educational policy change.

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Thomas Rodgers
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