In overwhelming fashion, Washington State Legislature voted 95-0 to pass a new bill that will allow computer science classes to count as a math or science requirement toward high school graduation.

Currently, Washington high schoolers who take a computer science class don’t receive a math or science credit. HB 1472 now enables this and “provide initiatives to improve and expand access to computer science education.”

A Washington STEM survey found that 3 in 4 voters feel that CSE classes should count for math or science credit instead of just an elective. There are currently nine other states that allow for this, and now Washington becomes the tenth.

Previously on GeekWire: Diary: An entrepreneur’s trek to the State Capitol to support tax relief for startups

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  • Guest

    I’ve always loved computer science and programming, but I am not sure this was a smart move. It’s meaningless that 3 out of 4 voters feel that CSE classes should count for math or science credit, when the vast majority of voters have very little appreciation for math to begin with. Nor do they fully grasp the qualitative difference between math and computer science. CSE cannot possibly replace math or science. I would have liked if programming became required instead of an elective, but not at the expense of a solid math foundation. This is why East-European and Japanese kids wipe the floor with American kids in Math. And no, I am not a mathematician, but a computer scientist.

    • ancsik

      Depends on the focus of the courses. The introduction to programming that will be counting for credit in pretty much all cases would be a reasonable science elective, but I definitely agree that it isn’t necessarily a good substitute for a Math course. On the other hand, an introduction to CS theory topics (i.e. graph theory, probability, combinatorics, basic algorithms, no need to write a single line of actual code) can be a very pragmatic alternative – I’ve met a handful of people who were turned off by the core algebra/geometry/algebra II sequence and were offered discrete math (essentially an intro. to CS theory – UW’s Math department let me skip the required discrete course because the first CSE major-only course was identical at the time) as an alternative to algebra II as part of running start, and they loved the class. Those topics give good number sense, have more obviously applicable real world usage, and, in combination, those two things encourage people to not be so scared of math. Want to see the US do better against students around the world? Make them not so afraid of math – students and teachers alike seem to agree you get math or you don’t, and I’ve seen teachers directly tell students to drop algebra II because they just won’t get it – CS theory as an alternative for higher math would probably help our students a lot more than telling them to quit because they just won’t ever get it.

  • Drew

    Interesting. Now I guess it’s up to the States to care and then if they do, work out which Mathematics and Science standards are addressed in a sufficient way by CSE courses. This is going to be the practical death of this goal.

    Oddly enough, I believe that most of the “shiny” and expensive Engineering programs haven’t met enough of the states’ Science standards for the universities to care about them in any sense other that “Oh, this kid has done another random elective.”

  • Kai Alexis Price

    What we are talking about is devaluing mathematics in the mind of every student and replacing an important, challenging class (whatever a student’s most advanced math class is) with essentially a fun class where everyone sits around all class and plays on computers. This does nothing to better prepare students for technology jobs. Want to do that? Require AP computer science be taken in addition to existing math and science requirements. The pool of American workers doesn’t lack for people who took high school computer science; if anything we lack for workers with advanced mathematics and science training.

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