This week, Code.org, the Computer Science Teachers Association, and the Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance, released the 2019 State of Computer Science Education report. The report shows that as states adopt computer science policies, the availability of computer science courses increases, as well as participation of female students, a typically underrepresented population in technology careers.
North Dakota has made great strides in advancing computer science and cybersecurity in classrooms. In early 2018, the state launched the “K-20W Initiative,” a collaborative effort involving more than 40 public and private sector partners committed to providing resources and training to teachers, administrators and students in computer science and cybersecurity. K-20W, code named for ‘kindergarten through PhD and workforce,’ is focused on providing 21st century skills that are vital in virtually any industry. It is spearheaded by EduTech, the educational technology arm of the Information Technology agency.
In addition, EduTech today announced a new partnership with Girls Who Code to bring free computer science learning opportunities to our communities. Girls Who Code Clubs are free after-school programs for 3rd-5th or 6th-12th grade girls to join a sisterhood of supportive peers and role models and use computer science to change the world. Participants not only learn hard coding skills and computational thinking, but they’ll also learn project management skills, collaboration, resilience, and how to positively impact their community.
“Our partnerships are vital to helping promote 21st century skills and creating lifelong learning opportunities,” said EduTech Director Rosi Kloberdanz. “We are eager to work with our fantastic network of teachers and administrators statewide to support the free Girls Who Code clubs.”
The K-20W coalition has established and expanded partnerships with the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC), Microsoft TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools), Code.org, the National Center for Women & Information Technology, and others to amplify the state’s ability to reach rural and urban areas of the state with computer and cyber science training, certification and classroom resources.
In the Code.org report, North Dakota is featured as having significant growth in percent of high schools teaching computer science, jumping from 23% to 41%. In addition, North Dakota adopted the nation’s first Computer Science and Cybersecurity Standards, embedding cybersecurity knowledge and skills across all grades and strands in the standards.
“According to a Gallup survey, more than 90 percent of parents of seventh to 12th graders support computer science instruction in schools. This has become foundational knowledge in K-12 education. Even our youngest students in elementary school must have a basic understanding of computer science, just as they must have knowledge of how to read, write and do mathematics,” said State Superintendent Kirstin Baesler. “Computer science touches every aspect of a person’s life, from health care to banking to agriculture to being able to get a reservation at a restaurant. It is imperative that we prepare our students with the knowledge and understanding of computer science that they need to equip them for their future. This statistic is proof that students really want to learn these skills when they have the opportunity and resources. Students are excited about learning computer science,” said Baesler.
“Our stakeholders are committed to creating an ecosystem that will benefit our students, and our state, in a highly competitive, global economy,” said Chief Information Officer Shawn Riley. “Computer science and cybersecurity are foundational skills that can empower students, teachers and parents to protect themselves online in an increasingly digital world, learn valuable problem-solving skills and prepare for many career opportunities.”