ACCESS celebrates new laws advancing CS education

      ECEP partner the Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools (ACCESS) is proudly contributing to the growing interest in expanding computer science education in California. In a major landmark, on September 30, 2014 Governor Jerry Brown signed bills AB 1765, SB 1200 and AB 1539 in support of making computer science count. ACCESS gathered over 10,000 signatures on a petition to develop computing education, and continues to work with, Technet, the Computer Science Teachers Association and others to ensure computer science opportunities are available to all California students. ACCESS Chair and UC Irvine Professor Debra Richardson notes, “Research has shown that making computer science count incentivizes students — especially those underrepresented in computing — to enroll in computer science courses in high school and be better prepared toward a path to college and careers using computer science.”

      As a world leader driving the digital age, California expects an average of more than 20,000 computing job openings each year for the next five years. Despite competition for computing talent, the current education system is not doing enough to prepare students for these careers. These bills will help provide the exposure and preparation students need to be successful in college and the workforce. Ultimately, computational and critical thinking skills, and the creation of new technologies, are crucial in preparing students for the 21st century regardless of their ultimate field of study or occupation.
      AB 1764 allows school districts to award students credit for one mathematics course if they successfully complete a University of California-­‐approved course in computer science. This credit would only be offered in districts where the school district requires more than two courses in mathematics for graduation.
      SB 1200 calls on the UC and California State University systems to develop guidelines for high school computer science courses that would satisfy an advanced math subject matter requirement for purposes of undergraduate admissions. Clear guidelines will help high schools establish advanced computer science courses in a manner that is consistent with admissions standards.
      AB 1539 requires the Instructional Quality Commission to consider developing K-­‐12 computer
      science content standards. 
      According to Julie Flapan, Executive Director of ACCESS, “These bills have the potential to expand opportunities and increase participation in computer science education, though hard work remains to ensure these opportunities are equally accessible for underrepresented students in computer science – girls, low-­‐income students and students of color.” ACCESS will continue to develop support for schools and students by establishing robust guidelines for computer science coursework, developing and promoting engaging curricula, offering teacher professional development, ensuring that underrepresented students are being recruited and retained in computer science, and encouraging the state to provide the necessary resources to make change happen.