Report: High Schools Fail To Meet Needs Of Tech-Driven World

Roughly only a quarter of U.S. high schools require students to take computer science courses, due in part to a misperception that computers are for video games and surfing the Internet, says a new report.
Only 26 percent of U.S. schools require students to take computer science courses, according to a report released last week.

Most cite lack of time in students' schedules, according to the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA). Though computer use pervades almost every aspect of life, the misperception that computers are for video games and surfing the Internet also prevents greater class enrollment, according to the report released last week.

"We all need to go beyond thinking this is just about the computer as a tool to help us learn other subjects—it's really about programming, hardware design, networks, graphics, and a myriad number of other elements," Anita Verno, professor at Bergen Community College and curriculum chair of CSTA, said in a prepared statement.

The New Educational Imperative: Improving High School Computer Science outlines steps for successfully implementing computer science education. It also describes how to identify intended curriculum outcomes to help make a case for the importance of preparing high school students for a technology-driven society and workforce.

"The United States cannot ignore the fact that there will be a shortage of qualified candidates for the 1.5 million computer and information technology jobs by 2012," co-author of the report and CSTA President Chris Stephenson said in a prepared statement. "This report provides a call to action for a variety of audiences to help others acknowledge computer science as the fundamental field that it is."

The report, backed by the National Science Foundation, compares the state of computer science education in American high schools to those abroad. It outlines best practices of successful programs in Canada, Israel, Scotland, South Africa and the United States. It also outlines a national curriculum framework and implementation plan. CSTA was launched last year by the Association for Computing Machinery. It provides policymakers, educators and business leaders with comprehensive strategies to promote computer science education. A CSTA task force worked with researchers and policymakers from around the world to produce the report.

CSTA issued a statement saying the report should serve as a "wakeup call to the United States on how far behind it has fallen in treating computer science education as a core knowledge requirement for all educated citizens."

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