U California System Finally Adds CS as Science Prereq Option for Freshmen

The University of California System has quietly begun accepting high school computer science credits as part of its curriculum prerequisites. CS will join engineering and applied science in the list of approved high school courses toward the university system's two-year college preparatory laboratory science stipulation.

In reporting by EdScoop, previously, just physics, chemistry and biology were eligible for core curriculum requirements and CS was considered only as an elective credit.

Code.org Co-founder Ali Partovi told reporter Ryan Johnston that his organization has been lobbying for the change nationwide since 2013, when nine state university systems had absorbed CS into their core requirements. With this move, California has become the 17th state to do so, according to a state policy tracking spreadsheet maintained by Code.org. Most of those states count CS in math requirements.

In a study published in 2017, Code.org stated that CS could satisfy a core graduation requirement in 95 percent of bachelor of science degree programs within the UC system.

In states where the policy of counting CS as some kind of requirement has been adopted, Partovi added, there has been a 10 percent increase in high school CS class enrollment, and participation by female and underrepresented students has grown by about a quarter.

A report from the Public Policy Institute of California published a year ago suggested that California had "a way to go" before it could join other states in allowing its universities to accept CS in high school graduation requirements. Among the problems cited: It has no statewide CS requirement for K-12; there are a lack of teachers qualified to teach "rigorous CS courses"; and only some districts allow CS classes to satisfy the elective requirement for college but not core requirements.

The state's other university system, California State University, continues to count CS only as an elective requirement.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.