Family and Community Engagement for Equitable CS Education

Our research examines how parents, caregivers, and community members can increase demand at the local level to ensure high-quality computer science (CS) is equitably distributed in under-resourced schools. Increasing equity, access, and inclusion in CS will help students see how CS is relevant to their lives and encourage them to take advantage of CS opportunities in their schools and increase them.

Access to CS learning opportunities is not fairly distributed. The latest data from the College Board demonstrate that while the overall growth of students taking the new AP Computer Science Principles course has nearly tripled, the participation gap among girls, low-income students, and students of color has widened. Although California’s students are 60% Latinx and African American, they make up only 24% of AP CS test takers (CSforCA 2020). The research documented in Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing (Margolis et al., 2008, 2017) demonstrates how these racial and socioeconomic disparities are rooted in the way schools are organized and how biased beliefs can influence decisions about which students have access to teaching and learning opportunities. Among other key findings, high-quality CS opportunities were abundant in schools that serve upper-income students, while schools serving low-income, predominantly students of color, offered more rudimentary keyboarding skills.

Of All Students in California are Latinx & African American
Of all AP Computer Science Test Takers in CA are Latinx & African American

Many parents and caregivers know the economic opportunities available to students who have learned essential skills from CS that will prepare them for college, careers, and community engagement. Parents and community-based organizations can amplify their voices and communicate to school leaders the need to expand teaching and learning opportunities, especially in communities of color where these opportunities are lacking.