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Families, Educators Dissatisfied With Computer Science Access
Gallup Blog

Families, Educators Dissatisfied With Computer Science Access

by Margaret Carlson and Julie Ray
Families, Educators Dissatisfied With Computer Science Access

Computer science skills make it possible for students to engage, create and innovate in an increasingly technology-fueled society, and they prepare them for a quickly evolving job market, where computing occupations make up the majority of projected new jobs in STEM fields.

In the latest Google/Gallup study of the state of computer science education in U.S. schools, conducted in late January to early March, about half of U.S. students in grades 7 through 12 reported they had the opportunity to learn these skills at school. Forty-nine percent of students say they learned any computer science at school in the past year. Similar percentages of female and male students and Black, Hispanic and White students reported that they learned computer science at school.

Nearly Half of U.S. Students Learned Computer Science at School
Did you learn ANY computer science at school in the past year?
Overall Black students Hispanic students White students Girls Boys
% % % % % %
Yes 49 49 48 51 49 50
No 51 51 52 49 51 50
Google/Gallup, 2020

Among students who reported that their school offers opportunities to learn computer science, slightly more than four in 10 (43%) say they had been enrolled in a class in which computer science was taught as part of it, while 21% say they had been enrolled in a class focused exclusively on computer science.

These findings are among many highlighted in the recently released Google/Gallup report, Current Perspectives and Continuing Challenges in Computer Science Education in U.S. K-12 Schools (PDF download). This report presents results from the third study in Google and Gallup's multiyear, comprehensive research effort to understand perceptions about computer science and access to computer science in K-12 schools. The report includes results from surveys of students in grades 7 to 12, parents and guardians of students in these grades, teachers, principals, and superintendents.

More Than Half of Students Do Not Learn Computer Science in an Average Week

In a typical week, more than half of students, 55%, report spending no hours learning computer science. One in 10 students (10%) say they spend five hours or more learning computer science in a typical week. Additionally, girls are slightly more likely than boys to spend no hours learning computer science in an average week (59% versus 51%, respectively).

These findings align with previously released results about equity gaps (PDF download) in computer science.

More Than Half of U.S. Students Spend No Time Studying Computer Science in Typical Week
In a typical week, about how many hours, on average, do you spend learning computer science at school?
Overall Black students Hispanic students White students Girls Boys
% % % % % %
0 hours 55 50 48 58 59 51
1 hour 17 14 22 15 16 17
2, 3 or 4 hours 19 25 18 18 18 19
5 or more hours 10 11 12 8 6 13
Google/Gallup, 2020

Educators Less Satisfied Than Families With Availability of CS Education

Less than half of students, parents and guardians, and educators are satisfied with the availability of computer science education opportunities at their schools. Four in 10 public school students in grades 7 to 12 say they are "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with the availability of computer science education at their schools, which is similar to the 42% of parents and guardians of public school students in these grades who are satisfied.

Fewer public school teachers are satisfied with the availability of computer science learning opportunities for students at their school, with 27% saying they are satisfied. This is driven largely by lower satisfaction among elementary teachers (20%). Somewhat fewer public (26%) than private school (35%) teachers are satisfied with the available computer science opportunities.

Few Students, Parents and Educators Satisfied With Availability of Computer Science
How satisfied are you with the availability of computer science education opportunities at your school/at your child's school/for students at your school?
Students Parents/Guardians Teachers
% % %
1 -- Very dissatisfied 7 6 10
2 12 10 24
3 26 26 33
4 22 23 19
5 -- Very satisfied 18 19 8
Don't know 14 16 7
Google/Gallup, 2020

Few Students and Parents Have Concerns About Computer Science Learning Quality

Students and parents and guardians generally give good marks for computer science learning quality; still, few rate it as excellent. Three in four parents and guardians overall whose own child received computer science learning in the past year rate the quality of that learning as at least "good." This includes 44% who rate the quality as "very good" (30%) or "excellent" (14%).

Like parents and guardians, students surveyed in grades 7 through 12 rate the quality of the computer science learning they received in the past school year generally positively, with 73% rating it as at least "good," though, like parents and guardians, few (13%) rate it as excellent.

Students, Parents Generally Rate Quality of Computer Science Education as High
Please rate the quality of computer science learning that [you/your child] [have/has] received at school this year.
Students Parents/Guardians
% %
Poor 6 3
Fair 17 13
Good 33 31
Very good 27 30
Excellent 13 14
Don't know 5 9
Among students or parents/guardians who personally or whose child learned computer science at school in the past year
Google/Gallup, 2020

Implications

Relatively few students, parents and educators are satisfied with the availability of computer science learning. Likewise, even among those with access to computer science education, parents and students are unlikely to rate the quality of the computer science learning their child/they received at school as "excellent."

With growing dependence on technology, there is a great and unmet need for computer science education in schools so that students learn the skills necessary to excel in their future workplaces. Students, parents and educators express a desire for more and better computer science learning opportunities, suggesting that expanded programs could help prepare today's students for the future economy.

This is the second article in a four-part series that explores results from and implications of the Current Perspectives and Continuing Challenges in Computer Science in U.S K-12 Schools (PDF download) report. Accompanying articles cover perceptions of the importance of computer science and insights about girls' computer science interest and aspiration.


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