California Computer Science Education Policy: Contributing Factors to Success and Opportunities for Further Progress

Candice Handjojo
Ashley Sunde
Students in classroom with iPad

If states are to foster an environment in which all students have opportunities to thrive in computer science (CS), policy action will help create the conditions for success. In California, a coalition of practitioners, industry representatives, and other stakeholders has actively sought to promote policies that support the equitable expansion of CS.

Interviews with 20 individuals involved in the CS education policy process—from people directly involved in creating policy to members of a CSforCA working group—help to illuminate several factors that have facilitated California’s recent policy successes.

Key Findings

  • Support from influential stakeholders, both within and outside policymaking institutions benefit CS education and problems that require policy attention.
  • Policy progress also occurs when advocates for CS policy tap into the values of influential decisionmakers.
  • As the CS community pursues policy change, its ability to provide useful information, develop relationships with policymakers, and develop resources that are easy to consume and understand has been helpful.
  • The interviews also suggest three lessons learned about shaping CS education policy moving forward:
    1. The availability of funding for CS education plays a powerful role in supporting or inhibiting policy progress;
    2. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted CS education growth, but it also presents opportunities for progress if educators can foster understanding of and commitment to what CS entails; and
    3. Work to build and sustain stakeholder support for CS education policy efforts will shape the future success of those efforts.
Principal Researcher