KINGSTON, R.I. - Today, a year and half after launching the Computer Science for Rhode Island initiative, Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced a new goal in fostering a competitive workforce: doubling the number of computer science degree graduates in Rhode Island by 2025. Raimondo made the announcement before a crowd of more than 2,000 students, educators, and tech industry partners at the CS4RI Summit at the University of Rhode Island.
"Thanks to CS4RI, every single student who goes through our public school system has a chance to learn computer science," said Governor Raimondo. "Computer science is essential for us to equip all students--no matter their race, gender or zip code--with the skills they need to be competitive for the high-wage, high-growth jobs that companies like Infosys, Johnson & Johnson and GE Digital are creating in Rhode Island. By 2020, projections show that there will be more than 2,500 open jobs in computer science. Our new goal will ensure that our students can not only compete for those jobs, but start their own tech companies and become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos."
Rhode Island's computer science initiative is among the most comprehensive and ambitious in the nation, with students in kindergarten through grade 12 accessing a variety of computer science opportunities. Since launching CS4RI in March of 2016, Rhode Island has seen an exponential increase in computer science education opportunities. In 2015, only nine high schools offered AP Computer Science and only 42 AP Computer Science exams were administered, compared to 37 high schools and 247 exams in 2017.
All public schools are now participating in CS4RI in varying capacities and more than 500 educators have participated in professional development, with plans for continued expansion of course offerings. Schools have a menu of options from which to choose, allowing communities to integrate computer science in a way that makes sense for their students, building local educator capacity and support along the way.
"Governor Gina Raimondo has led our state to the front of the pack when it comes to computer science education," said Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. "In recent data released on college-level coursework, Rhode Island emerged at the top of the list for schools nationwide offering AP computer science opportunities. We are the state to watch, and I look forward to growing that reputation as we continue to open up new 21st century learning opportunities for all students."
In 2017, nine public and private colleges in Rhode Island produced 817 graduates in computer science or related degrees, compared to more than 1,300 open computing jobs in the state in the same time frame. By 2020, it is estimated that there will be 2,500 computing jobs available in Rhode Island. In order to double the number of computer science degree graduates by 2025, Raimondo is calling on the state to:
-Expand rigorous computer science pathways into every high school in the state; Improve the quality of computer science educators;
-Strengthen and grow computer science programs at the postsecondary level;
-Continue to drive demand and momentum for CS education by increasing the number of CS4RI anchor companies and increasing exposure to CS for students in kindergarten through grade 8; and
- Ensure computer science opportunities are equitable and closing key participation gaps.
Also at the Summit, Raimondo presented the CS4RI Student Award to Tatyana Frost, a junior at The Met School: Easy Bay, who developed a computer science course called Art of Code, which she is currently teaching to other students at her school. Frost's project is designed to get more young women involved in and excited about computer science.
For more information on current CS4RI offerings and how to get involved, visit www.CS4RI.org.