Olsen Introduces Bill to Encourage High School Computer Science Courses

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Last week, Assemblymembers Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) and Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) introduced a bill that would encourage school districts to expand computer science courses in high schools.

AB 1764 would give students the opportunity to earn credit for one mathematic course if they successfully complete one course in computer science. The computer science courses must be approved by the University of California and/or the California State University as fulfilling the “C” requirement. This credit would be offered in districts requiring more than two mathematics courses for graduation.

“It is time California schools teach students how to create technology, not just use it. This bill is an important first step towards that end,” Buchanan said. “Highlighting the interconnections between computer science and mathematics will make computer science more accessible and ensure that more students are given the tools they need to pursue the college and career pathways in this critical field.”

Computer science drives innovation and economic growth in California and across the country. More than half of all jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in the United States will require highly technical computer knowledge and experience by 2020. Researching on how to start a career in it with no experience, is the first step to take for those who have an interest but haven’t been able to get themselves a qualification before embarking on a career change into IT.

“Computer science skills prepare students for careers in a variety of sectors beyond information technology, such as manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture and defense,” Olsen said. “Anything we can do to encourage students to take courses in computer science will strengthen our economy and better prepare our children for almost any career path they choose.”

California schools are falling behind other states in both its use of technology in the classroom and the courses offered, while computing jobs are growing at 4.3 times the state average. According to the Conference Board and the National Science Foundation, as of December 2013 there are 77,309 open computing jobs in California but only 4,324 computer science graduates. In states where computer science counts as an academic class, 50 percent more students enroll than in states where it is treated as an elective. The incentive of a college-level qualification such as that offered by the AP Computer Science should be more than enough to encourage students to take part, even if they may be wondering is ap computer science hard.

“By allowing computer science courses to count towards high school graduation requirements, this important legislation would help our students gain the skills they need to thrive in the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Microsoft Vice President for U.S. Government Affairs Fred Humphries. “We applaud Assemblymembers Olsen and Buchanan for their leadership on increasing access to computer science education, which is critical to sustaining American innovation and our economy.”

AB 1764 will be heard in the Assembly Committee on Education this spring.

Comments 3

  1. Guest says:

    As a computer scientist, this is great. Not only does computer programming teach students about technology, but also gives them skills on critical thinking and logic that they can apply else where. I remember being in robotics club in high school and that was a learning experience. Hopefully schools will be open to the idea of these classes in the general education curriculum.

  2. We’ve been experimenting with combining Math and Computer Science into a Math course in the SF East Bay. It’s called Algorithmic Geometry w/ Java. Students who’ve never programmed before learn Java while doing problem-solving with computer graphics. Because each problem the student solves results in a software algorithm that can be reused to solve harder problems, in one year students can work up to solving advanced 3D problems such as GPS positioning (intersection points of 3 overlapping spheres). They take on challenges in robotics, computer vision, CAD and molecular modeling. Students are enthusiastic about algorithmic math — it helps them connect the dots between abstract math concepts and how they can be applied in the real world. And it gets them involved in complex problem-solving in ways that traditional math lessons cannot even attempt. A tighter coupling of Math and Computer Science at the high school level exposes students to the creative problem-solving methodologies (e.g., writing graphic simulators) that will propel them forward in STEM careers.

    A 2-Year Progress Report on this approach to Math Education can be found at:
    http://www.algogeom.org/researchers.html

  3. Andrew says:

    I agree that allowing a computer science course to be put toward graduation requirements at the high school level is a good step to the future, but I would love to see it taken a step further and require such a course for everyone. As a student currently pursuing a computer science major and a member of industry, my background in high school computer science classes set me up for the position I am in today.

    Your statement that “A tighter coupling of Math and Computer Science at the high school level exposes students to the creative problem-solving methodologies that will propel them forward in STEM career,” could not be more correct. Logic and problem solving are at the foundation of everything in life and students are not exposed to enough critical thinking opportunities in high school. When it comes down to it, not all students are forced to think in general education courses and that needs to change.

    I disagree, however, with the article that “More than half of all jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in the United States will require highly technical computer knowledge and experience by 2020”. Although technology controls our everyday life, half of all the jobs in STEM requiring “highly technical computer knowledge and experience,” seems unreasonable. Most of these jobs will have something to do with technology, and will impact those careers much more than they do today, but they will not need “highly technical knowledge” significantly more than those careers today. Knowing how to write up an analytical program will not necessarily be required by a biologist; a computer scientist should be assisting them by making that program for them. The biologist will only need to know how to use the software, just like he or she would in society today.

    Computer Science is the way of the future. Bills such as this start to bring the educational system up to par with industry, but proposing bills is not enough. More legislation in more states must be made to catch up with the trend of technology. If computer science was a required part of all education across the country by 2020, it would benefit America greatly by allowing us to remain competitive in the advancement of technology for the future.

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