The Common Core Must Include Computer Science

We need computer science in K-12 curriculum, both as standalone courses and integrated into math and science.
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At Google, we are passionate about empowering students to become creators of new technology, along with the educators, parents, and organizations who work with them. We applaud the efforts of so many people who are also helping to make this happen and hope that through our products, tools, and programs, we are able to make a positive impact.

Today, we are writing to sound the alarm on something we see as a major flaw in the emerging set of Common Core standards. For those who don't know, the Common Core is a shared set of educational standards that states can voluntarily adopt. Prior to this, each state had its own process for developing, adopting, and implementing standards. As a result, what students learned varied widely from state to state. Over the past year, the state-led Common Core State Standards Initiative released the Mathematics and English Language Arts standards and Achieve released the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This standardization and the increased ability to measure progress across states is a significant improvement.

These initiatives will likely lead to positive changes in education for years to come, yet there is no significant computer science content in either the mathematics standards or the NGSS. This is a serious issue considering the key role computer science and computing plays in our economy, society and our everyday lives. Advancing our students' understanding of the principles and practices of computing is critical to developing a globally competitive workforce for the 21st century.

The latest employment projections for 2010 to 2020 show a 6.9 percent increase in employment from 2006-2010 in computer and mathematical occupations, and a projected 19 percent increase from 2010-2020. This is in comparison to a 14.3 percent increase, on average, for all other growing occupations. We are systematically making the decision not to prepare our young people for these jobs. We are doing a disservice to them by inadequately preparing them for the entirety of STEM professions, especially computing, which is and will continue to be a critical skill for most jobs in the future.

We need computer science in K-12 curriculum, both as standalone courses and integrated into math and science. Google, along with many other technology companies, is actively involved in helping to improve the quality and quantity of computer science education available to all students. Even with these efforts, however, we recognize that the Common Core standards are the primary mechanism we have to assure that our students learn data analysis skills, algorithmic thinking and programming. But none of this critical content is present in the current version of the Common Core.

Today, we urge you to visit Computing in the Core and learn how to get involved as an advocate in your community during Computer Science Week and beyond. Our future as a nation depends on the education of our children, and computer science must be a part of that education.

Maggie Johnson is Director of Education and University Relations and Jordan Lloyd Bookey is Head of K-12 Education Outreach at Google.

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