West Virginia is among the top states in the country actively closing the gender gap in computer science classes. As a result, the state was recognized for its progress at the annual Computer Science Education Conference (CSEDCon) hosted recently in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. West Virginia earned the recognition for the highest increase in participation of young women in computer science classes.
The Mountain State offers foundational computer science courses in 78% of high schools, placing it among the top 10 states in the nation, according to the latest report from Code.org—a non-profit organization dedicated to the vision that every student has the opportunity to learn computer science. Advanced courses in computer science are offered at career technical education (CTE) centers, multi-county CTE centers and high schools. All public school students start their computer science education as early as elementary school and are exposed to a variety of experiences throughout their academic careers.
Computer science also opens the door to diversity, especially for girls and young women. According to Code.org data, 34.2% of girls are taking computer science classes in West Virginia high schools. That is an increase of 4.2% from 2021. The traditional face of the computer scientist is changing which begins to provide opportunities for innovation in the industry and new solutions to address global problems. Women are increasingly finding interest and success in computer science, even starting at an early age.
“There is an increased interest in STEM and STEAM courses and pathways when students are exposed to technology at each programmatic level,” said State Superintendent of Schools David L. Roach. “Computer science is important because not only does it develop potential engineers, scientists and inventors that can grow our economy, but it also allows students to use higher levels of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This recognition proves that our state is making strides to expand our programs and be more inclusive in the process.”
The catalyst for computer science expansion was Gov. Jim Justice’s 2018 initiative that he signed into law through Senate Bill 267. This legislation made the Mountain State one of the first states in the nation to give all students access to computer science education before graduating high school. The WVDE, in partnership with CodeWV, is committed to supporting these courses throughout the state.
CodeWV, housed at the West Virginia University Center for Excellence in STEM Education, serves as the Code.org regional partner for the state. The program aims to bring computer science courses into West Virginia schools, enhance the state’s computer science learning standards and help define the requirements for computer science teaching certification in a local, sustainable fashion. CodeWV additionally partners with WVU, Code.org and Apple to help impact hundreds of students every year with access to computer science.
CSEDCon is a global computer science education conference that brings together hundreds of education and government leaders from around the world with non-profit leaders, researchers, advocates and industry representatives.