N.D.,(Dale Wetzel) – State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler is
inviting North Dakotans to take part in an “Hour of Code” to mark
the start of Computer Science Education Week, which began Monday and
ends Dec. 10.
job market is demanding computer science skills, according to
www.Code.org, a Seattle-based
nonprofit that advocates expanded access to computer science
education. The organization says North Dakota has more than 600 open
computing jobs at an average salary of $70,311, which is 50 percent
higher than the state’s average salary. Code.org says 50 percent
of Americans rank computer science as one of the two most important
academic subjects after reading and writing.
Computer Science Education Week website has a link that gives
individuals, from elementary school students to older adults, an
opportunity to try their hand at computer coding, which is the act of
writing directions in computer language to accomplish a task.
“Computer science is
very important for all of our students, because it is part of our
world today,” Baesler said. “Everything that we touch, everything
that we use, everything that impacts our lives is in some way
connected to a computer and a computer language.”
Baesler said the North
Dakota Department of Public Instruction and the state Legislature
have supported several proposals to expand access to computer science
of them is SB2185, a bill approved by the 2017 Legislature that
allows high school students to substitute an approved course in
computer science for one of the three mathematics credits they need
Two computer science
courses now qualify as math substitutes: Advanced Placement Computer
Science A and Integrated Mathematics for Computer Science/Information
Technology. SB2185 allows North Dakota schools to develop additional
computer science courses that could be used as substitutes for the
required mathematics credits.
Department of Public Instruction is working with Microsoft Corp. to
expand its TEALS initiative to rural schools, Baesler said. TEALS,
which stands for Technology Education and Literacy in Schools, pairs
a computer science professional with a classroom teacher to
team-teach computer science. The computer science professional often
participates in the class remotely, and the classroom teacher
gradually takes over the course as he or she becomes more expert in
says 90 percent of parents want their child’s school to teach
computer science, and that students who learn the subject in high
school are six times more likely to become computer science majors in
college. A computer science major can earn 40 percent more in their
lives than the average college graduate, the organization says.
was instrumental in bringing the National Math and Science Initiative
(NMSI), which is supported by ExxonMobil Corp. and other private
companies and foundations, to North Dakota to provide instructional
training for math, science and English teachers and make advanced
coursework more widely available for high school students.
NMSI has promoted
Advanced Placement computer science classes in North Dakota, and is
developing methods for offering AP courses to rural and isolated
schools, beginning in the 2018-19 school year, Baesler said.
The Legislature has made
it possible for every North Dakota student to take at least one
Advanced Placement exam at no cost during their time in high school,
the superintendent said. Students who qualify for free or
reduced-price school meals able to take as many as four exams for
“When we talk about
computer science, there is a whole host of occupations and jobs that
our students will be better equipped to perform, in whatever field
that they desire, if they have a basic understanding of computer
science and coding,” Baesler said.
has been invited to a kickoff event for Computer Science Education
Week in Palo Alto, Calif., on Monday that features Sheryl Sandberg,
the chief operating officer of Facebook; Susan Wojcicki (pronounced
woh-JISS’-kee), YouTube’s chief executive officer; and Peggy
Johnson, executive vice president of Microsoft Corp.