Shaping the future of K-12 Computer Science Education for all Illinois students.
We are excited to bring you the third annual Illinois Statewide K-12 Computer Science Education Summit! This year the summit will run throughout the week of September 20th and will include exciting speakers, networking events, and a celebration of computer science education in Illinois!
Why Focus on Computer Science Education?
The modern, digital workforce requires the development of a different set of skills than what has been needed in previous generations. Computing represents the number one source of new wages in the U.S. Economy with over 14,000 unfilled computing jobs in Illinois alone. However, all students, regardless of career or education goals will need to have at least a basic understanding of computational thinking and computer science principles to be successful in the workforce. Currently, nearly eight in 10 middle-skill jobs (more than a high school diploma, less than a bachelor’s) now require digital skills.
Access to computer science and computational thinking courses is not only a matter of workforce development, but also of equity. Rural and low resources schools are less likely to offer computer science courses and are less likely to have teachers with CS certifications. A poll by Google / Gallup found that this, in large part, was because there was a lack of CS-skilled teachers and a lack of budget to train or hire teachers. Women, African-American, and Hispanic professionals remain underrepresented in STEM jobs, both in Illinois and nationally. Nearly 10% of the overall Illinois workforce is African-American, yet only represent about 5% of the STEM workforce. Research has shown that early access to computer science courses increases the likelihood of women and underrepresented students choosing CS related careers. In fact, Code.Org found that women who try AP Computer Science in high school are ten times more likely to major in it and Black and Latinx students are seven times more likely. Thus, increasing access to computer science courses at the high school level, and even earlier, greatly impacts pipelines to high wage jobs for students of color and women.
Illinois has taken exciting steps towards CS for all Illinois students since the last summit. In March of 2021, Governor Pritzker signed House Bill (HB) 2170, known as the Education and Workforce Equity Act. This was a very large omnibus education bill that contained a variety of education initiatives including some new computer science requirements. HB2170 included the following computer science legislation:
• CS definition: IL will adopt a definition for 'computer science'. The definition used: “Computer science" means the study of computers and algorithms, including their principles, their hardware and software designs, their implementation, and their impact on society. "Computer science" does not include the study of everyday uses of computers and computer applications, such as keyboarding or accessing the Internet.
• CS standards: by Dec 1, 2021 IL will adopt standards for K-12 CS education.
• CS course catalog: by Dec 1, 2021, IL will analyze and revise, if appropriate, existing course titles dedicated to computer science or develop a short list of existing course titles that are recommended for computer science courses.
• CS offerings at every HS: by the 2023-24 school year, all high schools will be required to provide students the opportunity to take a CS course.
• CS reporting: schools will be required to report their CS curriculum offerings on the state report card.
HB2170 is a great start, but we still have a lot to do before we have equitable access for all students in Illinois.
The Summit was created as an opportunity to join together a community of impassioned stakeholders in support of statewide expansion of world-class K-12 Computer Science Education. Come join us!