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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: March 12, 2015 10:51 AM
From: Representative Kathy L. Rapp and Rep. Dan Truitt, Rep. Kristin Hill
To: All House members
Subject: Graduation Credit for Courses in Computer Science and Information Technology
 
In the near future, together with Representatives Dan Truitt and Kristin Phillips-Hill, I will be introducing legislation that will require school districts to allow students to apply credits earned through courses in computer science or information technology to satisfy credit requirements in either mathematics or science.

The importance of computer science education is clear. While many citizens are unemployed, there are also many employers who are unable to fill openings for positions that require proficiency in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Moreover, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that one in every two STEM jobs in the United States will be in computing occupations. With more than 150,000 job openings annually, information technology is one of the fastest growing occupations in the country. Equally important, the information technology field leads to family-sustaining careers, with jobs that pay 75 percent more than the national median annual salary.

Regardless of these statistics, only 2 percent of students take an Advanced Placement (AP) course in computer science, while many more students take AP courses in history, English, science, mathematics, foreign languages, economics, art, or music. These fields of study are certainly worthwhile, but given today’s challenging employment market, contrasted with the bright prospects that exist for individuals pursuing information technology careers, we should encourage more students to consider studying computer science. Unfortunately, however, computer science is generally considered to be an elective course in our public schools. Because computer science does not satisfy any core graduation requirements, students have little motivation to try a course in this area to learn whether it sparks their interest.

The legislation I will introduce with Representatives Truitt and Hill will require public schools to allow students who earn credit for a course in computer science or information technology to use that credit to satisfy a graduation credit requirement in either mathematics or science. The public school, in its discretion, will determine whether the credit earned in computer science will count as a math credit or as a science credit. Importantly, our legislation will not require any public school to offer courses in computer science, nor will it require a student to take such courses.

Encouraging students to study and pursue careers in computer science will help to align the skills of our young people with the needs of our employers. This is beneficial not only to students, but also to our Commonwealth.

Thank you for your consideration.

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Introduced as HB833