Computer science education continues to grow in popularity among Indiana high school students.
Statewide, students earned 19,377 high school computer science course completions last academic year, up 13% from the previous year, according to information the Indiana Department of Education released.
Course completions have steadily increased since 2014-15, when the total was 2,113.
Katie Jenner, Indiana secretary of education, applauded the progress in the department's weekly newsletter Friday in advance of Computer Science Education Week. The 12th annual nationwide celebration began Monday.
“I'm excited to share that when it comes to computer science, your hard work is paying off, and Indiana is a national leader,” Jenner said in the newsletter. “According to Code.org, Indiana is No. 1 in the Midwest and No. 11 in the country for computer science in schools.”
Under state law, public high schools must offer at least one computer science course as a one-semester elective at least once a year, and public schools must include computer science in the curriculum for students in kindergarten through grade 12. The requirements took effect July 1.
The four Allen County school districts all had students who completed computer science courses last academic year, according to state data, which showed 574 Fort Wayne Community Schools students took the introductory course, and advanced classes enrolled 370 more.
FWCS integrates technology in classrooms beginning in elementary school, spokeswoman Krista Stockman said. As students get older, she said, they can participate in co-curricular computer-based activities and further explore computer science through coursework and information technology certification opportunities.
“With computers available 1:1 for all of our students, digital literacy is a critical component of all students' learning today,” Stockman said Monday by email. “Whether students decide to pursue a career in STEM fields or not, they will undoubtedly need to understand technology and be flexible in learning how to adjust to technological advances.”
Computer science supports development of problem-solving, creativity, mathematical abilities, spatial skills, reasoning skills and improvements in reading, writing, math and science test scores, according to the 2021 State of Computer Science Education.
The nationwide report studies K-12 computer science education policy and implementation. It is a collaboration of the Code.org Advocacy Coalition, the Computer Science Teachers Association and the Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance.
It found 74% of Indiana public high schools offer at least one foundational computer science course compared to 51% of public high schools nationwide, based on information collected between last spring and summer for the most recent academic year with available data.
Percentages were 64% in Iowa, 62% in Wisconsin, 51% in Kentucky, 50% in Ohio, 44% in Michigan and 43% in Illinois, the report said. The 10 states with higher percentages included Arkansas and South Carolina with 92%, Maryland with 90% and Rhode Island with 86%.
The report found 31% of high school students enrolled in computer science courses were girls, noting that was across 36 states.
The percentage was lower in Indiana. Only 23% of course completions were by girls in 2020-21, the education department said, although that was up from 14% in 2014-15.