Software

Michigan legislators advance bill requiring computer science classes in high schools

The bill, which passed 87–22, would require all Michigan high schools to offer at least one CS class.
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Legislators in Michigan want high schools throughout the state to offer at least one computer science (CS) class, and have successfully passed a bill through the state House of Representatives requiring them to do so, the Michigan Public Radio Network (MPRN) reported.

The bill, sponsored by state Democratic Rep. Carol Glanville, would impose the requirement beginning in the 2027–2028 school year. A legislative analysis from the state’s House Fiscal Agency indicated that 68% of Michigan high schools had students enrolled in at least one CS course in 2022–2023.

The text of the bill requires schools to offer the courses in person wherever possible, but allows virtual courses as a fallback if other options aren’t feasible. The bill still needs to pass the state Senate, where it’s headed next.

Glanville told MPRN that students are already receiving some CS training, but state schools need to begin treating it as a “basic literacy skill” crucial for high-paying tech jobs. The bill passed 87–22, with only Republicans voting no; representatives from the Michigan Department of Education and CS education advocacy group Code.org testified in support of its passage.

Access to technology would remain an obstacle under the bill, K–12 Alliance executive director Robert McCann told Chalkbeat. The legislative analysis projected no additional costs for the Michigan state government, but mentioned that costs might increase for individual schools and districts.

“It is still a reality that some students don’t have access to the same technology that other students have at home,” McCann said. Aman Yadav, a professor of computing education at Michigan State University, told the site the bill did not address “significant challenges” such as ensuring schools across Michigan have qualified CS instructors.

According to Code.org, 29 states currently have policies in place offering all high school students access to CS courses. Its 2023 State of Computer Science Education report estimated that 57.5% of US high schools offer a CS course, compared to 53% in 2022. However, the report also found that across the 35 states where data is available, just 5.8% of public high school students were enrolled in a foundational CS class, with large disparities in participation among young women, particularly young women of color.

“The states that are moving ahead with this requirement, most of them are doing it on a three-to-five-year timeline to give their schools the time to basically catch up, and to provide the access, and to train the teachers,” Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi told IT Brew last year. “In most states, it’s not an instant change. It’s a gradual change, to get the education system time to adapt.”

Top insights for IT pros

From cybersecurity and big data to cloud computing, IT Brew covers the latest trends shaping business tech in our 4x weekly newsletter, virtual events with industry experts, and digital guides.