FlagshipKansas.Tech Emphasizes Importance of Access to Computer Science Education for All Kansas Students

In a world driven by technology, every industry and profession in the US is being fundamentally changed by skills learned through Computer Science education. Kansas was one of two states who did not allow Computer Science to count toward a core high school graduation requirement. Today, that has changed.

In February 2020, the Kansas State Board of Education approved the Computer Science Education Implementation recommendations, one of which was the item “Make Computer Science count as a core graduation credit”. Through the process of working with mathematics and science education professionals, a change to the graduation requirements was presented to and approved by the Board of Education today.

“This is a huge first step for all Kansas students in gaining access to Computer Science education,” Ashley Scheideman, Executive Director of FlagshipKansas.Tech said. “It is necessary that Kansas students have access to Computer Science education through which they will learn skills vital to a qualified workforce such as computational thinking, creativity, problem solving, analysis and logic.”

The constant evolution of occupations and the ability to compete for jobs in all industries is imperative for the success of our state. Specifically, the tech sector contributes $10.2billion to the state’s economy each year. Today, 58% of all new jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) are in computing, and citizens with these skills enjoy a wide range of career options as all industry sectors have a technological need. There are currently about 3,000 open computing jobs, but Kansas universities only graduate around 516 computer science degrees each year, creating a gap in the workforce.

“Making Computer Science more accessible to high school students on their path to graduation will help expose them to these opportunities and help Kansas take another step forward in closing that workforce gap,” said Joy Eakins, President of Cornerstone Data and Chair of the FlagshipKansas.Tech Education Committee.

With the new recommendations, a local Board of Education may substitute one unit of Computer Science for one unit of science or one unit of mathematics providing the concepts requirements are satisfied. Computer Science will be defined as “the study of computers and algorithmic processes, including their principles, their hardware and software designs, their implementation, and their impact on society.”

Allowing Computer Science to count as a core graduation requirement has been a years-long endeavor, supported by many Kansas organizations including Ignister, Science City at Union Station, KC Tech Council, KC STEM Alliance, and others dedicated to gaining access for Kansas students to a computer science education.