Getting more students into computer science requires more quality instruction, and requirements. This year, the Kentucky Education Commission has announced a new initiative to offer courses that produce more information technology professionals.
The Fayette County schools are on the cutting edge of the initiative, with classes at all levels, including elementary school. Students will meet computer science industry certifications, and there will be state based computer science standards in place.
“When people think of this class they think of coding and programming, and that’s not what this class is,” said Bryan Station High School math teacher Kaci Cohn. She who received extra training to teach the new high school class called Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles. “It’s a class that covers many topics.”
“We will do some programming. But we also talk about data, and public policy and laws and ethics,” Cohn said.
Among the projects students will tackle, they will investigate innovations such as self-driving cars and examine potential benefits and detriments to society on the whole.
Computer science credentials will be offered to teachers who already have math, science, and career/technical education credentials. For students, AP Computer Science Principles can count as a fourth math course or an elective, or meet a science requirement. Students can also earn college credit if theyearn a qualifying score on an AP exam.
“The United States currently has more than 494,000 unfilled computing jobs, but only 43,000 computer science graduates to fill those jobs,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt. “By creating more opportunities for computer science learning, we will reach, keep and engage more students in learning, create a pool of more qualified people to fill existing job openings, and stimulate suppressed economic regions of our state by developing a high-tech, skilled workforce.”