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Report: Computer science unavailable to many minority kids

Craig Clough | May 8, 2015



computer labMillennials may be the first generation born and raised in the digital age, but the state of California has a long way to go in catching up to modern times in providing the state’s minority students with a proper education in computer science, according to a new report.

“Path Not Found: Disparities in Computer Science Course Access in California High Schools,” a report from the Level Playing Field Institute, found that public schools with a high number of students of color are half as likely to offer computer science classes as schools with a predominately white or Asian student body.

Specifically, the report found:

  • Nearly 75 percent of schools with the highest percentage of under-represented students of color offer no computer science courses.
  • Of the more than half a million high school students in the largest 20 districts, just 1 percent are in any computer science course.
  • African-American and Latino students make up 59 percent of California public school students but were just 11 percent of 2014 AP Computer Science test takers.
  • Only 4 percent of schools with the highest percentage of low-income students offer AP Computer Science.

“Cumulatively, these findings suggest systemic barriers for students of color, low-income students and English learners in accessing computing careers, which are among the highest-paying and fastest-growing occupations in the nation,” Alexis Martin, director of research and evaluation at the Level Playing Field Institute, and Frieda McAlear, a research associate, wrote in a blog on the Huffington Post.

LA Unified, however, is one school district being proactive about the issue. In October, the district announced a plan to offer computer science curriculum to all students in kindergarten through 12th grade as part of a partnership with Seattle-based nonprofit Code.org.

The program will be rolled out over the next three years, when Code.org will train teachers and provide curriculum, marketing material and workshops at no cost to the district.

 

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