Raising Awareness for High School CS Students

Computer Science in high school? When I was a kid, that meant teaching yourself BASIC and/or C using a school computer. The teachers for computer class taught Wordperfect and very simple PC usage (using DOS, of course!). I would really like to see more computer science classes taught at the high school level as well as have more ways to advance from the high school level to college level. Computer Science Education Week is this week, and it hopes to inform people of the huge computer science curriculum gap.

I hope so, as I’ve seen some very talented kids cruise through high school and being taught the basics of the Internet (what kid doesn’t already know about that these days?!). I’ve even seen colleges that require beginning PC classes (usage of the mouse, etc.) as a required course for computer science majors. Having a placement exam, you could gauge the students level and find that they could start in C++ classes instead of beginning Windows classes (which is a waste of time and money for the student, and really turns them off of school). 

Even interested, high-potential students are being kept out. I recently spoke with a young woman in Massachusetts, who, when asked if she planned to take the Advanced Placement Computer Science (APCS) course, said “I’m hoping my teacher will let me sit alone in a classroom and work on it by myself,” and that it wasn’t offered at her school or through their virtual school exchange. Nationwide only 7 percent of high schools offer the APCS course. This is a wake-up call. We are squandering a precious resource – our students.