National Math + Science Initiative Blog


NMSI CEO: A Code for Success

This is a guest post by Matthew Randazzo, NMSI's CEO. 

There is a common thread between the designers of the Apple watch, aerospace engineers and financial analysts. That thread is computer science.

Computer science has driven innovation in every field and is powering approaches to many of our world’s toughest challenges. Whatever field our students choose to go into as adults, we know their ability to succeed will increasingly depend on understanding how programming and technology work. Yet across the country, too few students and even fewer girls and traditionally underrepresented minority students are being taught even the basics of computer science.

Today, the nation kicks off Computer Science Education Week — a campaign to ensure that every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science. NMSI is proud to support this movement. Our vision is that all students have the knowledge and skills to thrive in the global economy of the 21st century and for that, understanding CS fundamentals is crucial.

Here at NMSI headquarters, our team is excited to take part in the largest global education event in history with an Hour of Code, an effort to celebrate CS that has reached tens of millions of students across more than 180 countries and galvanized support from countless civic and business leaders, entertainers and policymakers.

That widespread commitment has meant that many organizations have joined forces to maximize the benefits of their efforts. Fifteen federal agencies are coordinating efforts to expand CS education. And more than 250 organizations, including NMSI, have announced new efforts to give every student the opportunity to learn computer science.  Together with our local, state and national partners, NMSI is supporting approximately 200 Advanced Placement® CS teachers and 4,600 students across 18 states through our College Readiness Program this year.

Finally, NMSI was one of a handful of organizations that collaborated with states, districts and the CS education community to develop the K-12 CS Framework — conceptual guidelines designed to inform standards and curriculum, professional development, and the implementation of computer science learning pathways beginning in the earliest grades and continuing through high school. Importantly, the framework provides a unifying vision to guide computer science from a subject for the fortunate few to an opportunity for all.

CS education provides students with ways of thinking, problem solving, and creating that can help them in all aspects of their lives. Indeed, one could easily argue that CS has become a “new basic” skill necessary for economic opportunity and social mobility. As technologies and economies continue to evolve, many careers of today may not exist in 20 years. Professions not even contemplated may become the most sought after. Making sure that students can use CS to learn, innovate, adapt and express themselves in our rapidly changing world will be critical to their success no matter what career path they choose.

At NMSI, we’re committed to increasing student exposure to CS, dispelling stereotypes about who can do computer science, and building the capacity of teachers to engage students in CS concepts and practices early and often.

As we celebrate the promise and power of CS education and take an hour to do some coding of our own this week, I encourage educators and local and state leaders to do their part to support and expand K-12 CS opportunities. Whether by allocating funding for rigorous CS teacher professional learning and support, allowing CS to satisfy core graduation requirements, or hosting a community learning event, we can all take action to ensure that CS is a fundamental part of K-12 education for every student.

For today’s students, the basics are reading, writing, arithmetic… and computer science. That’s the code for success in the 21st century economy.

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