Wolf’s Investments Makes Pennsylvania a National Leader in Computer Science and STEM Education
August 23, 2018
Harrisburg, PA – As students and teachers return to the classroom, Governor Tom Wolf’s PAsmart initiative has made Pennsylvania a national leader in computer science and STEM education. According to Education Commission of the States (ECS), Pennsylvania now ranks second in the country for investments in K-12 STEM and Computer Science initiatives. The governor secured $20 million in the state budget to prepare students to use computers and new technologies in the constantly changing economy, regardless of age, gender and zip code.
“Businesses are growing in Pennsylvania and they want skilled and well-educated workers to thrive in the 21st century economy,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “With PAsmart, we’re preparing students and workers to use the latest technology across many industries. These are good, middle-class jobs that employers need to fill today and in the future. Making Pennsylvania a national leader in technology education is good for workers, benefits businesses and strengthens the economy for everyone.”
Over the next decade, seven in 10 new jobs in Pennsylvania will require workers to use a computer and an estimated 300,000 jobs in science, technology, engineering and math will be available in Pennsylvania this year.
To improve computer science and STEM education, Governor Wolf has:
• Made Pennsylvania the national leader in funding K-12 computer science and STEM education. PAsmart competitive grants will support high-quality and equitable technology education with more classes in elementary, middle, and high schools, and professional development for teachers. Pennsylvania now ranks second in the country for investments in K-12 STEM and Computer Science initiatives, according to ECS.
• Joined 15 other states in the Governors’ Partnership for K-12 Computer Science, a bipartisan initiative organized by Code.org, to advance policy, funding, and professional learning for computer science education.
• Successfully encouraged the State Board of Education to endorse computer science standards for K-12, making computer courses available to all students.
“Learning to use the latest technology prepares students – and workers who need to upgrade their skills – for in-demand jobs and encourages problem solving, collaboration and drives innovation in all corners of our state,” said Governor Wolf.
All students should have the opportunity to study computer science and technology, but opportunity gaps remain. Only 23 percent of middle and high schools offered a computer science course in the 2016-17 school year, and only two percent of all students took a computer science class. Of those, more than twice as many boys took computer science courses than girls, and only 28 percent, 1,717 students, were girls of color.
However, Pennsylvania is quickly becoming a leader in STEM and Computer Science training. Over the past three years, the number of girls of color enrolled in computer science courses has increased by 45 percent in 2016-17 and more students of color are taking the classes. Additionally, Girls Who Code and the Federal Communications Commission recognized Pennsylvania as a leading state for promoting gender equity in computer science education through transparency and data reporting. The commonwealth ranks fifth nationally in the number of STEM graduates; is home to five of the country’s 56 STEM learning ecosystems and 24 percent of degrees awarded from state-owned universities are in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or health care. According to Education Commission of the States (ECS), Pennsylvania now ranks second in the country for investments in K-12 STEM and computer science initiatives. PAsmart will build on that success.
“I traveled across the state this summer visiting educational camps where students were engaged in a range of STEM and computer science programs,” Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera said. “As students return to the classroom this year, more of their teachers will have the tools necessary to continue to prepare them for the jobs we know will be abundant in the coming years, as well as professions that have yet to be imagined.”
In June, the state Department of Education hosted the Computer Science for All PA summit to train hundreds of educators and administrators from around Pennsylvania on innovative ways to approach teaching computer science in the commonwealth’s classrooms. The three-day event featured national speakers, training in computer science fundamentals presented by Code.org, and other hands-on activities.