Idaho the latest state to make computer science courses count toward high school graduation requirements

FredHumphries150x207Continuing the momentum we’ve seen across the country on computer science education, Idaho recently joined a growing number of states that allow computer science courses to count toward high school graduation requirements. We applaud Idaho for taking this important step, which will help prepare students for the jobs of today and tomorrow while supporting American innovation. Under the leadership of Gov. Butch Otter, the Idaho State Board of Education, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, Senate Education Chairman John Goedde and House Education Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, Idaho has taken a critical step in closing the skills gap and strengthening the STEM pipeline.

According to a recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, computer science and economic majors ranked above every other major in terms of securing a job prior to graduation. Computer programming jobs are growing at twice the national average and are among the top paying fields, yet less than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science. At the high school level, of our country’s 42,000 high schools, fewer than 3,250 are even certified to teach Advanced Placement Computer Science courses.

Fortunately, we are seeing increased momentum at the state level to ensure high school students are graduating with the skills they need to succeed in our 21stcentury economy. By taking action to allow computer science courses to count toward high school graduation, states like Idaho are working to ensure students have the computer skills, knowledge and experience necessary to thrive. We’re working with state legislatures across the country to encourage them to adopt similar policies when it comes to computer science education.

Through Microsoft’s YouthSpark initiative, we are also partnering with high schools across the U.S. to increase access to computer science classes through our Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program. TEALS places trained industry software engineers into classrooms to “co-teach” with in-service teachers. By partnering with tech companies from around the industry, TEALS helps students learn computer science while also providing them the opportunity to learn about computer science opportunities first-hand.

During Computer Science Education Week, Microsoft joined our partner Code.org to help increase enthusiasm for computer science education with events nationwide. As part of these activities, we hosted Hour of Code events at our retail stores and with our YouthSpark partners across the country, witnessing the delight of students who experienced coding for the first time. To date, 30,606,732 students have completed the Hour of Code and written 1,332,784, 839 lines of code. These numbers continue to grow.

But we can’t stop there.

We applaud Idaho’s action this week to ensure students have the skills they need to succeed, and urge additional states to update their policies. By allowing computer science courses to count toward high school graduation, states can help students gain critical 21stcentury skills.

To learn more about YouthSpark and Microsoft’s computer science initiatives, click here.

About the Author

Vice President, U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft

Fred Humphries is Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs for Microsoft in Washington, D.C. His work amplifies Microsoft’s voice on key advocacy issues internally and externally on all aspects of federal and state affairs. In his current position, Mr. Humphries sets strategy and oversees government affairs outreach on a broad range of topics, including cloud computing, taxes, privacy, trade, cybersecurity, education and emerging technologies like Microsoft Kinect. He is also responsible for communicating Microsoft’s leadership role in fostering economic and job opportunities in the U.S. technology sector to policymakers.