Expanding and Scaling - Innovative Digital Fluency Models: Computer Science Education in the U.S.

White Paper
TATA Consultancy Services & STEMconnector

The need for greater science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and computer science (CS) education in our nation’s schools is no longer up for debate. Across the country, there are signs that the STEM message is gaining traction. Although many STEM fields have taken strong root among school officials and students, CS still largely lacks the necessary recognition from government and educational institutions. Today, only one in four schools offers a computer science curriculum. For this reason, organizations such as the National Science Foundation, Code.org, Teach For America, Project Lead the Way, and many others have launched programs to advance CS education in the United States outside of the traditional classroom setting.

But the battle is not over yet. Schools and other organizations still need the tools to effectively scale up CS programs. Lacking best practices and models of successful initiatives deployed elsewhere, organizations risk wasting time and funding on less-than-ideal approaches.

The need for repeatable, scalable models is urgent. Eighty percent of jobs now require “digital fluency”: a mastery of technology to solve real-life problems, and a key outcome of CS instruction. Although 71 percent of STEM jobs require computing, only eight percent of STEM graduates have computational degrees. To capture students’ interest in CS courses and careers, educators and policymakers must demonstrate the many benefits of getting involved with CS, including a higher salary than the average college graduate—in other words, they must make CS “cool.”

In response to these persistent gaps in CS education, Tata Consultancy Services, an IT services, consulting and business solutions organization, joined with STEMconnector®, a leading advocacy organization for STEM education and careers. For the third consecutive year, the groups hosted a Computer Science Roundtable to unite experts, educators, and advocates in CS to discuss and debate the importance of CS at every level of education. Through panels with students and CS practitioners alike, the group learned challenges facing both American students and employers in the growing CS job market.

This year’s event took place September 15, 2015 at the Teach For America headquarters in New York City. Building upon takeaways of the previous two roundtables, the day focused on ways to expand and scale up models of digital fluency, as well as breakout sessions that delved more deeply into specific areas of need. This white paper shares insights and solutions that emerged from the discussion.

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