California lawmakers consider legislation allowing computer science to count toward high school graduation requirements

Continuing the momentum on computer science education, on Wednesday the California State Assembly Committee on Education held a hearing to consider legislation that would allow computer science to count toward high school graduation requirements. The legislation, AB 1764, sponsored by California State Assembly members Kristin Olsen and Joan Buchanan, was passed by the committee and would allow computer science courses to count as a math or science credit.

Why does this matter? Many industry sectors in U.S. are unable to find the high-skilled talent they need to sustain innovation. Experts estimate that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer science-related jobs. Yet, our colleges and universities are only graduating 50,000 students a year with degrees in computer science. Further compounding the problem, only 19 states and the District of Columbia currently allow computer science courses to count toward high school graduation requirements.

We applaud Assembly members Olsen and Buchanan’s efforts to allow computer science courses to count, and we encourage the California State Legislature to pass this legislation. Through allowing computer science courses to count, states like California can help provide opportunities for more students to experience computer science education firsthand.

In order to close the computer science gap and ensure students have the opportunity to take computer science courses, the private sector must also play a role. To help solve the computer science challenge, Microsoft works with state and local leaders, educators and partners such as Code.org to raise awareness and advocate for increased access to computer science classes.

As part of Microsoft’s YouthSpark initiative to provide opportunities to 300 million young people, we are also partnering with local schools to bring computer science courses to high school classrooms. Our Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program pairs computer science volunteers with in-service teachers to team-teach computer science courses. Founded in 2009 by a Microsoft engineer who wanted to help address the computer science gap, TEALS has partnered with 70 schools in 12 states to serve 3,300 students, including 10 schools in California.

Last year, only 30,585 out of more than 14 million U.S. students took the Advanced Placement Computer Science test. This number represents less than 0.21 percent of all AP tests taken. TEALS helps to address this problem by bringing computer science courses into high schools across the nation as a service to schools, students and teachers.

We’re encouraged by the momentum on computer science education in states across the country, and look forward to continuing to work with state leaders, educators, parents and students to strengthen access to these critical courses.

Click here to learn more about Microsoft’s YouthSpark efforts to close the computer science gap.

About the Author

Senior Director for State Government Affairs, Microsoft