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Digital Literacy – The Next Frontier

• Lowell Matthews

Computer skills are now essential for school and career success, which is why ExcelinEd works with states and partners to ensure students have the resources to become digitally literate.’s new 2018 State of Computer Science Education captures school-level data showing where computer science courses are currently being taught. An update on the March 2017 report, this release identifies the 33 states that have recently changed policies to improve access to these vital courses. It also documents where resources are being directed to teachers for becoming computer science educators. 

While it’s great to see improvements over the past 18 months, the data reveal how much further states have to go, especially with 500,000 unfilled computing jobs across the country. Here’s what the report found: 

  • 70 percent of all states (35 of 50) do not require computer science to be offered in their high schools. 
  • 62 percent of states (31 of 50) do not fund computer science professional development for teachers. 
  • And there are equity challenges: Students in rural areas, students from low-income families and Black and Hispanic students are less likely to attend a school that provides access to computer science education. 

That last point has economic consequences. It means that fewer of our nation’s traditionally underserved students will be able to access those half-million open jobs. Without question, those jobs offer a real future in a 21st-century industry that keeps growing exponentially. Any student with computer science skills has a leg up on students without that training. 

In every state, our educational pipelines into successful careers need closer attention and continued improvement. ExcelinEd’s policies in course access and college & career pathways actively support this goal, and I’m motivated every day to develop and help implement policy solutions that make a difference for kids. 

That task would be nearly impossible without education partners and researchers digging up the data that shed light on how we’re doing—and where we need to better focus our efforts. Kudos to and partners for this revealing and invaluable report. We at ExcelinEd are proud to work alongside their team to better prepare all students for college, careers and life. 

About the author

Lowell Matthews

Lowell is the Director of College and Career Pathways for ExcelinEd. He previously served as Staff Director for the Florida Legislature’s Senate Committees on Education Pre-K-12 and Higher Education, where he helped create Florida’s industry certification incentive to create a nexus between education and the workforce. Lowell is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Vanderbilt University Law School. He also served in the U.S. Army. He lives in Rochester, MN with his wife and two kids.