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Parents Think Computer Science Education Is Important
Gallup Blog

Parents Think Computer Science Education Is Important

by Valerie J. Calderon and Stephanie Marken
Parents Think Computer Science Education Is Important

About seven in 10 parents and guardians of U.S. students in grades seven through 12 (69%) say it is important or very important for their child to learn computer science, according to a new report from Google and Gallup. About one in four parents and guardians are neutral on this measure (26%), while 5% say it is not important or not at all important for their child to learn.

More than three in four Black parents and guardians (78%) say learning computer science is important for their child, including more than half (52%) who say it is very important. Similar majorities of Hispanic (67%) and White (68%) parents and guardians see computer science as important for their child to learn.

Perceptions of the Importance of Computer Science Education, Among Parents/Guardians
How important is it for your child to learn computer science?
Very important 4 3 2 Not at all important
% % % % %
U.S. parents/guardians 35 34 26 3 2
Black parents/guardians 52 26 17 4 1
Hispanic parents/guardians 37 30 27 4 2
White parents/guardians 32 36 27 3 2
Google/Gallup, 2020

These findings are among those highlighted in a new Google/Gallup report, Current Perspectives and Continuing Challenges in Computer Science Education in U.S. K-12 Schools. This report presents results from the third study in Google and Gallup's multiyear, comprehensive research effort to better understand perceptions of computer science and access to computer science learning opportunities in K-12 schools. The report includes results from surveys of students in grades seven through 12, parents and guardians of students in these grades, teachers, principals, and superintendents.

Less Than Half of Middle, High School Students See Computer Science Education as Important

U.S. students in grades seven through 12 are less likely than parents and guardians to say it is important for them to learn computer science. Four in 10 students say computer science education is important, including 16% who say it is very important. Boys (49%) are much more likely than girls (31%) to think it is important for them to learn, and they are more than twice as likely to think it is very important (22% vs. 9%, respectively).

Perceptions of the Importance of Computer Science Education, Among Parents/Guardians and Students
How important is it for [you/your child] to learn computer science?
Very important 4 3 2 Not at all important
% % % % %
U.S. students 16 24 34 16 10
U.S. parents/guardians 35 34 26 3 2
Google/Gallup, 2020

Educators Think Computer Science Is Just as Important as Other Subjects

Strong majorities of all educator groups think offering computer science courses is just as important to a student's future success as other required courses. Fewer public school teachers (66%) than principals (73%) and superintendents (75%) think it is just as important.

About three in 10 public school teachers (31%) say computer science courses are less important than other required subjects -- such as math, science, history and English -- to a student's future success. Twenty-one percent of principals and fewer than two in 10 superintendents (18%) say it is less important.

Perceptions of the Importance of Computer Science Education Compared With Other Courses, Among Public School District Educators
Do you think offering opportunities to learn computer science is more important, just as important or less important to a student's future success than other required courses like math, science, social studies/history and English?
More important Just as important Less important
% % %
Teachers 4 66 28
Principals 3 73 21
Superintendents 4 75 18
Google/Gallup, 2020

Superintendents with large school district enrollments are most likely to think offering opportunities to learn computer science is just as or more important than other required courses. Nearly nine in 10 superintendents from districts with enrollments of over 5,000 students (87%) say computer science education is just as important (82%) or more important (5%) than offering other required courses, whereas 73% of superintendents from school districts with fewer than 1,000 students say the same.

These results suggest administrators are increasingly aware of the critical nature of computer science learning for their students. Results from the 2016 Trends in the State of Computer Science report showed that fewer principals (66%) and superintendents (65%) said offering computer science is just as or more important to a student's future success as other required courses.

Results from the current study show that nearly half of superintendents (46%) say learning computer science is more important to the future success of students in their school district compared with three years ago. About half (51%) say it is just as important as it was three years ago, while 3% say computer science education is less important to students' future success.

Superintendents from large school districts (over 5,000 students) are more likely than those from small districts (fewer than 1,000 students) to say learning computer science is more important than it was three years ago (54% vs. 40%, respectively).

Perceptions of the Importance of Computer Science Education Compared With Three Years Ago, Among Superintendents
Compared with three years ago, do you think that learning computer science is more important, just as important or less important to the future success of students in your school district?
More important Just as important Less important
% % %
U.S. superintendents 46 51 3
By district enrollment size:
Up to 1,000 students 40 56 5
1,001-2,000 students 48 51 1
2,001-5,000 students 54 43 2
Over 5,000 students 54 44 2
Google/Gallup, 2020

Implications

Though a strong majority of parents and guardians think learning computer science is important for their child, students themselves are not as likely to think it is important. This is especially true for girls, who are much less likely than boys to view computer science as very important. These results are reminiscent of those from the 2016 study, which showed girls' perceptions of computer science are not as positive as those of boys.

Educators and families have a challenge ahead in continuing to boost perceptions of the importance of computer science among students. Educators increasingly recognize the importance of computer science learning for students' future success, and they are increasingly seeing the importance of computer science relative to other required courses that are firmly entrenched in the curricular canon for schools and bolstered by strong standards.

This is the first article in a four-part series that explores results from and implications of the Current Perspectives and Continuing Challenges in Computer Science Education in U.S. K-12 Schools report. Accompanying articles will discuss access, availability and quality, and insights into girls' computer science interests and aspirations.


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/320354/parents-think-computer-science-education-important.aspx
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