Expanding Tech Skills for Colorado Students

(March 7) – This morning, the House approved by voice vote a bill by Speaker Crisanta Duran and Senate President Kevin Grantham that responds to demands for technology and computer science skills by adding technology
skills into current content standards and creating a publicly available resource bank for schools and districts that want to start or expand computer science programs.

“This bill is good for the people of Colorado—good for parents who want to make sure their kids have access to computer science and digital literacy classes, good for kids who want to reach their full potential and good for
our economy by making sure we have a skilled workforce ready to enter our fastest growing industries,” said Speaker Duran, D-Denver. “This is also good for equity—because it ensures that anywhere in Colorado, students can truly have an opportunity to succeed.”

Information technology is one of Colorado’s fastest growing career  clusters, but many students lack exposure to technology and computer science training. Colorado has over 13,517 open computing jobs, but there were only 668 computer science graduates in the entire state in 2014.

Only 53 schools in Colorado (14 percent of Colorado schools with Advanced Placement programs) offered an AP Computer Science course in 2015-2016. This access gap ultimately results in ethnic and gender underrepresentation in STEM training and careers. Out of 780 Colorado high school students who took AP Computer Science in 2016, only 19 percent were
female, only 92 of the students were Hispanic or Latino, and only 14 students were Black.

Under HB17-1184, industry experts would also be allowed to co-teach computer science in the classroom.

Organizations in support of the bill include Apple, AT&T, Colorado Code.org, Colorado Business Roundtable, Colorado Children’s Campaign, Colorado League of Charter Schools, Colorado Succeeds, Colorado Technology Association, Couragion, Democrats for Education Reform, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Education Reform Now, Galvanize, IBM, Jaybird Group,
Mile High United Way, Stand for Children Colorado, and The Women’s Foundation of Colorado.

The bill remains on the House floor for third reading.

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