State senate passes bill to allow high school computer science classes to meet college admissions requirements

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The state Senate passed a bill Monday that will, pending assembly approval, allow computer science courses in California high schools to count toward college admissions requirements for the University of California and California State University.

The senate bill, SB 1200, would allow computer science classes to satisfy the math aspect of the A-G requirements that one must fulfill to be accepted into a UC or CSU campus. Students will now be able to get a head start in studying for a field that, according to UC Berkeley computer science lecturer Dan Garcia, will change the majority of professions going forward.

“Every single field is being transformed, from big box stores to law to medicine to entertainment to education, Pixar movies and digital effects,” Garcia said. “ Everything is being impacted by (computer science).”

According to a press release from State Senator Alex Padilla, who introduced the bill Feb. 20, California will need to fill half a million computing-related jobs by the year 2018.

With the incentive of classes counting toward A-G requirements, Padilla believes there will be an increased amount of interest in computer science courses offered to high school students.

“At all other high schools, computer science courses are, at best, treated as electives,” Padilla said in a press release. “More high school students will take advanced computer science courses if the classes qualify as meeting a core math requirement for undergraduate admission.”

Interest has been on the rise, Garcia said, with the realization that computer science is a hot, well-paying job. Over the last 20 years, enrollment in Computer Science 61A at UC Berkeley has increased from approximately 600 students in 1994 to about 1,800 students in 2013.

In addition to senators and administrators, some UC Berkeley students believe this legislation is an important idea to help put high school students on track to studying this growing field.

“It would be a good way to expose students earlier on, especially now, with the way technology has advanced,” said UC Berkeley freshman Delanie Lowe, who is currently enrolled in CS 10,  in a text message.

Although only 20 states currently allow these courses to count as a high school graduation math requirement, the rest of the United States is starting to see the importance of teaching computer science in high school, according to Garcia.

“Computer science gets put on the back-burner and doesn’t get taken by that many people at a time where every student should be digitally literate,” Garcia said.

Contact Chris Tril at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ctril.