Massachusetts can lead in computer science education

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Earlier this month, we stood together to announce the House of Representatives’ Economic Development bill. Looking out at a room of reporters, business leaders, and policy experts, we found ourselves upstaged by several students from the Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School and Westford Academy, who spoke about their experiences learning computer science.

Collectively, the students reported that their participation in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge and the Iridescent/Technovation Challenge sparked their interest in computer science. One young woman said that “learning computing skills shouldn’t be only tactical; it’s about developing a way of thinking. You’re not just programming, you’re learning how to identify problems and how to solve them. From arts to linguistics to game design, we want to innovate.” All are planning to pursue more extensive study at the college level.

Given the state’s strong focus on strengthening the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills of its students, concentrating on computer science education is a logical next step. With the House’s passage of the Economic Development bill and its ultimate approval, Massachusetts would become one of the first states to make a financial commitment to developing state computer science standards, a comprehensive computer science curriculum, and supporting teachers and districts willing to provide new computer science courses to students in Massachusetts. The bill provides $1.5 million for MassCAN (Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network), which was founded in 2013 by a coalition including Google, Microsoft, Mass Business Roundtable, Mass Tech Collaborative, Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, Mass Tech Leadership Council, and others.

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