Giving every child the opportunity to learn how to code

A large collaboration has created much-needed guidelines for primary and secondary computer science education
Daniel Friedman, flickr.com, CC BY 2.0
Daniel Friedman, flickr.com, CC BY 2.0

In the last five years, a plethora of games and toys have hit the market that promise to teach children how to code. With the Information Age has come an emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) skills, particularly computer science and programming, and parents want their little ones to have the advantage of a head start.

But according to a multiyear U.S. survey by Google and Gallup, close to sixty percent of elementary school principals and forty percent of middle school principals reported the lack of a dedicated computer science course. In her feature, titled “A Plan to Teach Kids in Every School Computer Science,” writer Emily DeRuy describes a group of nonprofits, educators, tech companies, states, and districts aiming to improve the accessibility of coding classes in schools. Computer “code” consists of typed instructions that a computer follows. Individuals with the ability to code can then use this language to create websites, software, games, or apps.

The K-12 Computer Science Framework provides much-needed guidelines for computer science education for each grade level in the hopes of standardization and wide dissemination of material. The framework, which outlines core computer science concepts and practices, is freely available for educators to download from the website. The project was a collaboration among organizations like Code.org, the National Math + Science Initiative, and the Computer Science Teachers Association.

States like Virginia are already using the framework as the basis for its own primary and secondary computer science standards. The hope is that it will serve as a stepping stone for schools who want to teach their students how to code, but lack a starting point. Every student at every grade level should have the opportunity to learn this important skill, argue those involved with the framework.

Emily DeRuy’s article, which recently appeared in The Atlantic, also points out the shortage of educators qualified to teach computer science. A number of efforts to train teachers coding basics do exist, but highly qualified individuals may choose jobs in the lucrative tech industry instead.