Expanding Computer Science Education in High Schools

Expanding Computer Science Education in High Schools

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By Lori Harnick, General Manager, Microsoft Citizenship & Public Affairs

It’s estimated that by 2018, there will be 1.5 million computer science related jobs available in America, but only 29% of those jobs will be met by U.S. graduates.

At a time when five of the top ten fastest growing jobs will be in a computer-related field and two of the top three top bachelors’ salaries are in computer science and engineering, it’s concerning that only 0.6 percent of the nation’s 1.06 million public high school teachers have “Computer and Information Sciences” as their primary teaching assignment. There currently are just over 42,000 high schools in the United States but only 2,100 of them were certified to teach the Advanced Placement computer science course in 2011.

And, we see the impact on our students. Last year in the United States only 21,139 of 16 million students across the United States took the computer science Advanced Placement test – only 0.6% of all AP tests taken (about 3.4 million) that year.

As part of the recently announced Microsoft YouthSpark initiative - which aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world - we are announcing the expansion of the Technology Education And Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program, which directly addresses the shortage of Computer Science teachers with a novel and highly successful approach.

The TEALS program recruits, mentors, and places high-tech professionals into schools that are struggling to provide strong computer science offerings on their own. Partnered with an in-class teacher, TEALS brings computer science expertise to students and teachers, without any training or development costs to schools. As preparation, TEALS volunteers go through an intensive three-month-long program in teaching philosophy, curriculum development, and classroom management.

The key to the success of the program is the in-class partnership between the teachers and the volunteers as discussed in a New York Times story on TEALS that appeared earlier this week:

“We are taking the kids farther than I could do,” said Michael Braun, a teacher at Rainier Beach High who is working with Microsoft volunteers.

The TEALS program was created in Washington State in 2010 by a Microsoft engineer, Kevin Wang, and has produced great results thus far. So, we decided to expand the program this year to California, Utah, North Dakota, Minnesota, Virginia and the District of Columbia. At this point in time, the program has 110 volunteer teachers in 37 schools reaching over 2,000 students and it’s poised for even greater growth. This could not happen without the tremendous partnership we’ve found in school districts across the country.

Through these partnerships and many others, we’re looking hard at how to address the problems facing young people today. It’s why we kick started a discussion last week about the need for a national talent strategy for the United States. Take a look and let us know what you think of our ideas….

Through partnership and creativity we can empower youth to change their world.

Looking for more information?

What's participating in TEALS like for the volunteers?

Microsoft employees who participate in the TEALS program share their experiences.

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