Riley, Diegnan & Fuentes Bill to Bolster Computer Science Education in NJ Advanced by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Celeste Riley, Patrick Diegnan and Angel Fuentes to bolster computer science education in New Jersey’s middle schools and high schools was released Monday by the Assembly Education Committee.

“The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by the year 2020, there will be 4.2 million jobs in computing and information in the United States,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “These are the jobs of the future. We should be taking the necessary steps to prepare our students so that they will be equipped and ready to compete in the workforce, instead of wasting time catching up if they choose to pursue computer science as a profession.”

The bill (A-3440) requires the State Board of Education to develop rigorous curriculum guidelines in computer science at the middle and high school levels that will be incorporated into the existing Technology and Science Core Curriculum Content Standards, where appropriate.

The goal of the curriculum guidelines would be to prepare students to understand the nature of computer science and its place in the modern world; foster an understanding that computer science interweaves concepts and skills; enable students to use computer science skills, primarily computational thinking, in their problem-solving activities in other subjects; and complement information technology and Advanced Placement computer science curricula in school districts.

“Many of our young people are graduating with fewer job prospects. Computing and information technology are among the fastest growing occupational fields in the country,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “By exposing our students to these professions at an earlier age, we are giving them the tools they will need to compete and thrive in the global marketplace.”

“Colleges are not graduating enough computer science majors to keep up with the demand. The gender and racial disparity among high school students taking the Advanced Placement Computer Science exam is even more disproportionate,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). “By enhancing computer science education in our classrooms, we can expose students from groups that are typically under-represented in computing and close the gender and racial gaps ingrained in the profession.”

Under the bill, beginning in the school year following the development of the curriculum guidelines, a school district would be required to incorporate, where appropriate, computer science curriculum guidelines in grades 6 through 12 which are in conformance with the curriculum guidelines developed by the State board. The bill defines “computer science” to mean the study of computers and algorithmic processes and includes the study of computing principles, computer hardware and software design, computer applications, and the impact of computers on society.

The bill would take effect immediately.