FACT SHEET: President Obama Announces Computer Science For All Initiative
“In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by … offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one.”
—President Obama, 2016 State of the Union Address
Today, President Obama is unveiling his plan to give all students across the country the chance to learn computer science (CS) in school. We’ve made real progress in education -- over the past seven years, 49 States and Washington, D.C. have raised expectations by adopting higher standards to prepare all students for success in college and careers.
It is now time to take the next step forward. Our economy is rapidly shifting, and educators and business leaders are increasingly recognizing that CS is a “new basic” skill necessary for economic opportunity and social mobility. By some estimates, just one quarter of all the K-12 schools in the United States offer CS with programming and coding, and only 28 states allow CS courses to count towards high-school graduation, even as other advanced economies are making CS available for all of their students.
Fortunately, there is a growing movement being led by parents, teachers, states, districts, and the private sector to expand CS education. The President’s Computer Science for All Initiative builds on these efforts by:
- Providing $4 billion in funding for states, and $100 million directly for districts in his forthcoming Budget to increase access to K-12 CS by training teachers, expanding access to high-quality instructional materials, and building effective regional partnerships. The funding will allow more states and districts to offer hands-on CS courses across all of their public high schools, get students involved early by creating high-quality CS learning opportunities in elementary and middle schools, expand overall access to rigorous science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) coursework, and ensure all students have the chance to participate, including girls and underrepresented minorities.
- Starting the effort this year, with more than $135 million in investments by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to support and train CS teachers, who are the most critical ingredient to offering CS education in schools. The agencies will make these investments over five years using existing funds.
- Calling on even more Governors, Mayors, education leaders, CEOs, philanthropists, creative media and technology professionals, and others to get involved. Today, Delaware, Hawaii and more than 30 school districts are committing to expand CS opportunities; Cartoon Network, Google and Salesforce.org are announcing more than $60 million in new philanthropic investments, and Microsoft is announcing a fifty-state campaign to expand CS; and Code.org is announcing plans to offer CS training to an additional 25,000 teachers this year. Read more about the more than 50 organizations responding to the President’s call to action HERE.
THE NEED FOR CS FOR ALL
Building on the progress made by states in raising standards to help students graduate from high school ready for college and career, President Obama signed the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015. This law cements this progress by requiring that all students in America be taught to high academic standards that will prepare them to succeed in careers and in college.
Furthermore, more than nine out of ten parents surveyed last year say they want CS taught at their child’s school. They understand that today’s elementary, middle and high school students are tomorrow’s engineers, entrepreneurs, and leaders who must be equipped with strong computational thinking skills and the ability to solve complex problems.
Access to CS education is limited and wide disparities exist even for those who do have access to these courses. For example, in the fewer than 15 percent of all high schools that offered any Advanced Placement (AP) CS courses in 2015, only 22 percent of those who took the exam were girls, and only 13 percent were African-American or Latino students. Media portrayals and widely-held stereotypes exacerbate this dynamic, with far more men than women depicted in technology roles in film and television roles. As highlighted in the first-ever White House Demo Day, these disparities in who gets included, and who feels included, are one reason why women compose less than one-third of the technical employees, and African-Americans less than three percent, at some of America’s largest and most innovative technology companies.
Providing access to CS is a critical step for ensuring that our nation remains competitive in the global economy and strengthens its cybersecurity. Last year, there were over 600,000 tech jobs open across the United States, and by 2018, 51 percent of all STEM jobs are projected to be in CS-related fields. The Federal government alone needs an additional 10,000 IT and cybersecurity professionals, and the private sector needs many more. CS is not only important for the tech sector, but also for a growing number of industries, including transportation, healthcare, education, and financial services, that are using software to transform their products and services. In fact, more than two-thirds of all tech jobs are outside the tech sector.
CS is also an active and applied field of STEM learning that allows students to engage in hands-on, real-world interaction with key math, science, and engineering principles. It gives students opportunities to be producers, not just consumers, in the digital economy, and to be active citizens in our technology-driven world. CS can also help foster computational thinking skills that are relevant to many disciplines and careers, such as breaking a large problem into smaller ones, recognizing how new problems relate to ones that have already been solved, setting aside details of a problem that are less important, and identifying and refining the steps needed to reach a solution. CS also complements the President’s Nation of Makers initiative, which focuses on the growing democratization of the hardware and software tools needed to design and make just about anything.
THE PRESIDENT’S PLAN TO EXPAND CS FOR ALL
Over the past seven years, President Obama has led an ambitious effort to expand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities for American students. From starting the tradition of the White House Science Fair to launching the “Educate to Innovate” initiative, the President’s efforts are helping more than 50,000 new STEM teachers get trained, have catalyzed more than $1 billion of private-sector investment for STEM education, and have expanded opportunities for students who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields.
In 2014, President Obama became the first President to write a line of code, and issued a broad call to action to expand CS across the nation’s classrooms. In just the past three years, 17 states have allowed CS to count towards graduation requirements, and growing list of states like Arkansas and Washington are creating high-quality CS learning opportunities in elementary and middle school, and providing greater access to CS courses in high school. Under the President’s TechHire and ConnectED initiatives, more than 500 employers have partnered with 35 cities, states, and rural areas to expand access to tech jobs, and the connectivity divide in schools has been cut by about half since 2013. Major school systems such as New York City, Chicago and San Francisco have announced plans to offer CS to every student throughout elementary, middle and high school, with strong support from business leaders, philanthropists, and non-profits. In addition, the President signed the bipartisan ESSA law in December 2015, which expands the opportunities that states and districts have to offer CS and other rigorous STEM coursework.
Historic Investment to Empower States and Districts
The President’s Computer Science for All plan builds on the momentum at the state and local level. The President’s upcoming budget will include $4 billion in funding at the Department of Education, available over three years, for states to increase access to CS in P-12 classrooms. Under the program, states would submit comprehensive five-year “Computer Science for All” plans, and every state with a well-designed strategy would receive funds. In addition to state-level grants, the budget will also dedicate $100 million in competitive grants specifically for leading districts to execute ambitious CS expansion efforts for all students, including traditionally underrepresented students, and serve as models for national replication.
The funds would give states and districts the resources to train both existing and new teachers to teach CS, build effective regional collaborations, and expand access to high-quality learning materials and online learning options. States and districts could use these funds to provide access to CS courses to every high school student within five years, create a progression of CS learning experiences in elementary and middle schools, and ensure additional support and resources for students traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields.
Participating states and districts would also be encouraged to create plans for expanding overall access to rigorous STEM classes, utilizing CS as a catalyst for increased interest in STEM more broadly, and reducing course equity gaps for all students, including underrepresented groups such as minorities, girls, and youth from low-income families. For high school students, this could include expanded access to AP, International Baccalaureate, dual-enrollment, and other rigorous coursework that lead to college and career readiness, and to earn college credit while in high school. For students in the early grades through middle school, these plans could support implementation of high-quality curriculum, instruction, and learning opportunities that promote computational thinking and that lay the groundwork for CS and STEM coursework in high school.
States and districts would also be encouraged to build robust regional collaborations, such as with industry, non-profits, and out-of-school providers, as well as securing potential financial and in-kind support from private partners.
Action by Federal Agencies Starting This Year
The Administration is also announcing Federal actions to expand CS in K-12 education starting this year. These include actions by the Department of Education (ED), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), within the Department of Commerce.
- NSF is committing $120 million for the Computer Science for All initiative over the next five years: Under this Administration’s tenure, NSF has funded efforts to build the necessary research foundations for implementing effective academic CS instruction in U.S. schools. NSF has funded the development of prototypes of instructional materials, assessments, teacher professional-development programs, and teacher resources, including a new introductory CS high-school course, Exploring Computer Science (ECS), and a new AP CS Principles (CSP) course framework. Both ECS and CSP are designed to be academic, rigorous, and engaging for all students, with equity and access at their core. As the lead Federal agency for building the knowledge base for CS education, NSF will make available $120 million over the next five years to accelerate its ongoing efforts to enable rigorous and engaging CS education in schools across the nation. These funds will support continued prototyping of instructional materials, scalable and sustainable professional-development models, approaches to pre-service preparation for CS teachers, and teacher resources at the K-12 grade levels. This acceleration could enable as many as 9,000 additional high-school teachers to be well prepared to teach CS over the next five years.
- CNCS is committing $17 million to support teacher training: CNCS — the Federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service and in developing community solutions through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Social Innovation Fund programs — is committing up to $17 million in Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards over the next three years to support teacher training in CS education. CNCS, in partnership with NSF, will collaborate with 100Kin10 to help thousands of teachers access the AmeriCorps Educational Awards, which will help pay for the training teachers need to learn CS fundamentals, and educate and inspire the next generation of great innovators, problem-solvers, and STEM educators. In addition, 100Kin10 is pledging to support its growing network of more than 200 partners, which includes Center for STEM Education-TRC at UT Austin, Colorado Education Initiative, New York Academy of Sciences, Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education (IISME), Roadtrip Nation, SRI International, Teach For America, the University of New Hampshire, The UTeach Institute and others, to directly prepare and support no fewer than 10,000 teachers to teach CS by 2021. As part of that commitment, 100Kin10 will launch a $1 million “coopetition” to identify and network leading-edge efforts to prepare and support engineering in K-12 schools in the state of New York, with a focus on CS.
- The Department of Defense (DoD) and NSF are collaborating with the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI): DoD and NSF will collaborate with the NMSI, a non-profit, to implement the new AP CS Principles course within the NMSI College Readiness Program for Military Families, providing teacher and student support interventions at 200 DoD-related NMSI sites across the country.
- NSF will also collaborate with the private sector to support high-school CS teachers: As part of its $120 million investment, NSF will provide $5 million to pilot and expand professional-development approaches in CS to additional schools across the United States, with funding from industry that will enable teachers to attend those pilot programs. Infosys Foundation USA will be a founding member of this public-private collaboration with a $1 million philanthropic donation, and, as an initial participant, Tata Consultancy Services is providing additional support in the form of grants to teachers in 27 U.S cities. This collaboration will ultimately provide opportunities for as many as 2,000 middle- and high-school teachers to deepen their understanding of CS.
- CS Teacher Institutes: The Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) and NSF will participate in a joint effort to expand the field of CS educators in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. This effort will create a first cohort of educators who will provide additional CS professional development for educators across the country. In addition, PTO will also launch a national network of teacher training institutes, open to districts across all 50 states, to upgrade existing CS professional development with new robotics programming and intellectual property modules that can animate the interests of all students, including young girls and students of color.
- Creating 21st Century Learners and Coders: The U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program, funded at more than $1 billion and the Federal government’s largest investment in afterschool and extended day programs, will increase awareness of high-quality CS resources for out-of-school programs. The 21st CCLC program will showcase promising practices and resources within its network of State Directors, site Directors, and front-line staff, and will feature CS in the STEM session at the program’s Summer Institute.
- Guidance for Additional Funding Opportunities at ED: Building on the STEM Act of 2015 and new ESSA, ED will release a Dear Colleague Letter this year that will include guidance on funding opportunities for STEM and CS. ED will also release a report entitled “STEM 2025” in the spring. The report will detail considerations for the next ten years in P-12 STEM education, including a discussion on the importance of computational thinking and other CS-related activities.