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Report: Computer science unavailable to many minority kids

Craig Clough | May 8, 2015

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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

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


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