Colorado will Increase the Number & Diversity of Colorado Students Pursuing Tech
The Colorado Education Initiative (CEI), the Colorado Technology Association (CTA), the National Center for Women & Technology (NCWIT), and Oracle Academy brought together a cross-sector group of national, state, and local participants to initiate a community-based collaborative. This education and technology task force — Compute Colorado — drafted initial ideas on key partner priorities to increase the number and diversity of Colorado students prepared to compete for high-demand, high-wage technology jobs, particularly in computer science. Of note, task force members identified the need to refine the purpose of this effort, to define computer science, and to ensure a focus on technology literacy as an essential competency in Colorado’s innovation-based economy.
Colorado companies, especially those focused on information technology, are thriving and hiring, yet Colorado’s K-12 education system is not preparing students to compete for these jobs.
- Since 2010, Colorado companies have spent $19 million annually to import talent to fill unmet demand, primarily in computer science occupations
- Colorado currently has 16,012 open computing jobs (2.9x the average demand rate in Colorado)
- 14% of Top Jobs are in the IT sector.
While there is a demand for IT professionals within tech-sectors and across a series of other industry sectors – and while it is known that a diverse workforce drives innovation and the tech-sector must be innovative to thrive – there is not enough support for Colorado districts, schools, educators, and students to excite, prepare, and engage a greater number and diversity of Colorado students in these occupations.A key challenge Colorado faces with computer science is the difficulty of tracking quality programming occurring throughout the state. Some known statistics are startling and include:
- Only 35 schools in CO offered the Advance Placement (AP) Computer Science course in 2013-2014. There are fewer AP exams taken in computer science than in any other STEM subject area
- Only 661 high school students in Colorado took the AP Computer Science A exam in 2015 - only 2% of the total AP STEM exams taken – only 19% were female, only 9% were Hispanic, and only 3% were black
- While employers are paying $19 million annually to import talent, postsecondary institutions in Colorado awarded 3,600 certificates and degrees in computer and information sciences-related fields in 2014—still not enough to meet current employer demand – and only 18% of those graduates were female.
Compute Colorado Task Force Commitment
This Task Force will build a coalition of support to build a diverse talent pipeline in tech-sector jobs.
CEI and CTA will continue to convene interested stakeholders in January to continue to build a coalition to advance this commitment.
This is just the beginning of a collaborative to make real and lasting change in Colorado’s education and technology ecosystem to ensure we increase the number and diversity of students in the state with technology-literacy, and to ensure many more students are prepared and excited to succeed in high-tech occupations like computer science. Learn more by contacting Angela Baber, STEM Director, The Colorado Education Initiative at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Compute Colorado Task Force Initial Draft Partner Priorities
K-12 partners can advance this effort through:
- Addressing the lack of parent knowledge regarding the opportunities of computer science
- Supporting teachers to be effective computer science teachers
- Focusing on student recruitment efforts
- Understanding and implementing existing effective computer science programs
- Ensuring administrators are a part of the computer science discussion
- Ensuring students completing computer science courses earn a math or science credit
Postsecondary partners can advance this effort through:
- Leveraging community college concurrent enrollment opportunities
- Building partnerships and agreements to ensure core credit transfers in and out of state
- Expanding collaboration between higher education and high schools
- Ensuring their teacher professional development programs include computer science
Industry partners can advance this effort through:
- Building partnerships between schools and companies
- Working with education stakeholders to define computer science and technology literacy
State partners and funders can advance this effort through:
- Addressing regulations and standards that may be barriers to expanding computer science courses
- Changing the culture that supports “weeding out” students in computer science that leads to attrition
- Creating a licensure endorsement in computer science in Colorado
- Leveraging technology to expand access to quality computer science courses
- Attending competitions and tournaments to raise the profile of computer science
National partners can advance this effort through:
- Benchmarking state efforts
- Expanding knowledge about and resources to expand effective CS programs and courses.
Thank you to all of the attendees, partners, and sponsors of the initial meeting of the Colorado STEM Compute Colorado Task Force! Together we can do great things.