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Survey: Computer science, STEM skills in schools

An emphasis on preparing students for college and the workforce has put a spotlight on skills in computer science and programming as well as other topics in science, technology engineering and mathematics. For some schools or districts, these skills are integrated into the traditional curriculum, while others are teaching them through electives or extracurricular programs and courses. SmartBrief on EdTech recently polled readers to gain some insight on how such topics are being addressed in today’s schools and school districts.

According to our poll, 20% of respondents said STEM skills are an important focus in their school or district, while a solid majority — nearly 67% — said STEM skills are somewhat important. Another 13.33% said STEM skills are not an important focus for their schools.

Slightly more than 11% of respondents reported that courses in computer science and/or programming are now being required for students in their schools or districts, while nearly 42% of respondents reported that such courses are offered as electives. Some 20% said these skills are being taught as part of other courses; however, just over 28% say such courses are not taught at all.

More schools than not are offering opportunities in computer science and/or STEM outside of the traditional school day, according to our poll, though about 16% say such opportunities are available on a limited basis. However, as many as 40% of respondents say such extracurricular opportunities are simply not available through their schools or districts.

Here is a breakdown of the results:

How much importance is placed on STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — skills in your school or district?

  • STEM skills are somewhat important in my school or district — 66.67%
  • STEM skills are a primary focus in my school or district— 20%
  • STEM skills are not a focus in my school or district — 13.33%

Which sentence best describes how computer science and/or programming skills are taught in your school or district?

  • Computer science and/or programming skills are taught as an elective course in my school or district – 41.57%
  • Computer science and/or programming skills are not taught in my school or district — 28.09%
  • Computer science and/or programming skills are taught as part of broader technology courses in my school or district — 19.1%

Katharine Haber is an education editor for SmartBrief, writing and editing content about a variety of topics in education.

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