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Current Perspectives and Continuing Challenges in Computer Science Education in U.S. K-12 Schools

Gallup and Google's multiyear, comprehensive research effort to better understand perceptions of computer science and access to computer science.

Computer science is imperative to our future; it develops critical thinking skills that solve complex problems, fosters creativity for bold, new ideas and sharpens skills that drive innovation in science, technology, engineering and math. Computer science skills not only make it possible for students to engage, create and innovate in an increasingly technology-fueled society, they also prepare them for a quickly evolving job market, where computing occupations now make up about two-thirds of projected new jobs in STEM fields1.

What are the unique opportunities that influence whether students study computer science or pursue careers in another field? The latest report, commissioned by Google, is a refreshed look at computer science perceptions, attitudes and access among U.S. students, parents and educators.

In Years 1 and 2 (2014-2015, 2015-2016), the study examined perceptions about the value of computer science learning among key leaders in K-12 education and also looked at trends in these key issues, including differences in access and diversity. In Year 3, we take another look at the landscape of computer science education in the U.S., offering new insights into the current state of computer science education and highlighting themes that have persisted across the three studies.

Explore the findings in this dynamic study for the growth of our future.

Black students are still less likely than White students to have a class dedicated to CS at the school they attend
47% vs. 58% in 2015
46% vs 52% in 2020

Nearly six in 10 superintendents (58%) agree that computer science is currently a top priority in their districts, compared with a third who said the same in 2016 (33%).

1U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook. Employment Projections. Accessed June 13, 2020.

The significant gender gap in CS education perceptions, confirmed in our 2016 survey, continues today; 22% of boys say it is very important for them to learn CS, compared with 9% of girls.

Current Perspectives and Continuing Challenges in Computer Science Education in U.S. K-12 Schools-2020

Year 3 findings are a refreshed look at year 2, focusing on opportunities to learn CS (awareness of and access to CS), perceptions of CS, demand for CS and challenges and opportunities for CS in K-12 schools.

Current Perspectives and Continuing Challenges in Computer Science Education in U.S. K-12 Schools

Trends in the State of Computer Science in U.S. K-12 schools-2016

Year 2 findings focus on key changes from year 1 on opportunities to learn CS (awareness of and access to CS), perceptions of CS, demand for CS and challenges and opportunities for CS in K-12 schools.

Trends in the State of Computer Science in U.S. K-12 schools

Searching for Computer Science-2015

Year 1 key findings examine student exposures to computer technology, demand for CS schools, opportunities for students to learn about CS and barriers to offering CS in schools.

Searching for Computer Science: Access and Barriers in U.S. K-12 Education
Images of Computer Science: Perceptions Among Students, Parents and Educators in the U.S.

Moving Forward: Closing the Computer Science Learning Gap -- Girls

This report brief provides insights into girls' interest and aspiration in learning and pursuing computer science.

Moving forward: Closing the Computer Science Learning Gap - Girls Report Summary

Moving Forward: Closing the Computer Science Learning Gap -- Black Students

This report brief highlights 2020 study results for Black students and includes insights from parents and guardians.

Moving forward: Closing the Computer Science Learning Gap - Black Students Report Summary

Moving Forward: Closing the Computer Science Learning Gap -- Hispanic Students

This report brief highlights 2020 study results for Hispanic students and includes insights from parents and guardians.

Moving forward: Closing the Computer Science Learning Gap - Hispanic Students Report Summary

Moving Forward: Closing the Computer Science Learning Gap -- Rural and Small-Town School Districts

This report brief spotlights differences in perceptions of computer science and access limitations for rural and small-town schools.

Moving forward: Closing the Computer Science Learning Gap - Rural and Small- Town School Districts Report Summary

Diversity Gaps in Computer Science: Exploring the Underrepresentation of Girls and Black and Hispanic Youth

A focus on exposure to technology and access to CS learning opportunities across underrepresented groups to identify structural and social barriers faced that could influence a likelihood to enter the CS field.

Diversity Gaps in Computer Science: Exploring the Underrepresentation of Girls and Black and Hispanic Youth Report Summary

Computer Science Learning: Closing the Gap -- Girls

Women make up half of the U.S. college-educated workforce, yet only 25% of computing professionals. This summary highlights the state of CS education for girls during 2015-16.

Computer Science Learning: Closing the Gap-Girls Report Summary

Computer Science Learning: Closing the Gap -- Black Students

This summary highlights the state of CS education for Black students during 2015-16. This group is less likely to take the AP Computer Science Exam and has a lower pass rate on it compared with other racial groups.

Computer Science Learning: Closing the Gap-Black Students Report Summary

Computer Science Learning: Closing the Gap -- Hispanic Students

This summary highlights the state of CS education for Hispanic students during 2015-16, who make up nearly one-quarter of the U.S. K-12 student population.

Computer Science Learning: Closing the Gap-Hispanic Students Report Summary

Computer Science Learning: Closing the Gap -- Rural and Small-Town School Districts

This summary highlights the state of K-12 CS experiences of rural/small-town students in the U.S. and provides specific recommendations for schools in rural and small-town communities.

Computer Science Learning: Closing the Gap -- Rural and Small-Town School Districts Report Summary

Encouraging Students Toward Computer Science Learning

This summary highlights key differences in interest in and confidence to learn CS among seventh- to 12th-grade students from underrepresented groups, as well as the level of encouragement to learn CS that these groups receive from key influencers such as parents and teachers.

Encouraging Students Toward Computer Science Learning Report Summary

State-Level Reports

The study produced individual summary reports, based on principals inputs' for the 43 states with sufficient principal responses from the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 Google-Gallup surveys of 18,938 school principals. The results shed light on the status of offerings and support of computer science in K-12 schools in those states, as well as recommendations to broaden access to, and participation in, CS learning.

Click Here to Access the State Reports

These reports present findings from the first two years of Gallup and Google's multi-year, comprehensive research effort to better understand perceptions of CS and access to CS learning opportunities in K-12 schools in the U.S. In Year 1, Gallup surveyed more than 15,000 seventh- to 12th-grade students and parents of seventh- to 12th-grade students via telephone, and K-12 teachers, principals and superintendents via web surveys.

In Year 2, Gallup used a similar methodology and surveyed more than 16,000 seventh- to 12th-grade students, parents of seventh- to 12th-grade students, and K-12 teachers, principals and superintendents.

In Year 3, we take another look at the landscape of computer science education In the U.S., offering new insights into the current state of computer science education and highlighting themes that have persisted across the three studies.

Detail on Year 1

  • Gallup interviewed nationally representative samples of 1,673 seventh- to 12th-grade students, 1,685 parents of seventh- to 12th-grade students and 1,013 first- to 12th-grade teachers via telephone in November and December 2014.
  • Gallup also surveyed a sample of 9,693 K-12 principals and 1,865 school district superintendents in the U.S. via the web. These groups are not representative of all principals and superintendents in the U.S., and data in the Year 1 reports, including state-level reports, were not weighted.

Detail on Year 2

  • Gallup interviewed nationally representative samples of 1,672 seventh- to 12th-grade students, 1,677 parents of seventh- to 12th-grade students and 1,008 first- to 12th-grade teachers via telephone in December 2014 and January 2015.
  • Gallup also surveyed representative samples of 9,805 K-12 principals and 2,307 school district superintendents in the U.S. via the web. While results for principals and superintendents in Year 1 were not weighted when Year 1 reports were written, those data were weighted for comparison with weighted Year 2 data in Year 2 reports.
  • Full detail on methodology can be found at the end of each report.

Detail on Year 3

  • Gallup interviewed nationally representative samples of 1,402 seventh- to 12th-grade students, 2,092 parents and guardians of seventh- to 12th-grade students, and 979 K-12 teachers via Gallup Panel.
  • Gallup also interviewed representative samples of 1,521 U.S. school principals and 1,479 district superintendents.
  • Data were weighted to correct for non-response.
  • Full detail on methodology can be found at the end of reports.

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