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Speak Up 2014 Snapshots for Students

This is a special blog posting by Dr. Julie A.Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, to share some selected , preliminary data findings from Speak Up 2014 (data collected from October 6 – November 24 from 105,304 middle and high school students nationwide). The final data results will be published in a series of national reports in spring 2015.

Supporting the Hour of Code: Students’ Interest in Learning Computer Programming

From Minecraft fairs at schools to girl coding parties after school, schools and communities are encouraging today’s students to embrace coding or computer programming as a new essential literacy. The momentum behind the efforts of our colleague, Code.org, to develop greater student (and parent/teacher) interest in coding has been exciting to watch develop. In honor of this week’s Hour of Code events, we are pleased to share with the nation a preliminary set of Speak Up data on student interest in coding to provide additional context for the week’s activities.

While less than 10 percent of students in grades 6-12 are currently involved in programs or classes that are teaching computer programming, students have a high interest in learning more about this new literacy. Amongst high school students, 45 percent say they are interested in learning how to code; 17 percent are very interested. For students in grades 6-8, over half of those students (53 percent) expressed an interest in learning programming with one-quarter of those students identifying as very interested. Given that high demand, schools may be concerned about how to address students’ interests with current teachers or electives. Interestingly, 27 percent of high school students and 38 percent of middle school students would like to take a an online computer programming class.

While the level of middle and high school student interest in coding is impressive, especially in light of the Hour of Code momentum, the real growth market appears to be upper elementary students. When we asked students in grades 3-5 if they are interested in learning more about coding and programming, 66 percent said yes! So, while many traditionally think about programming as a high school elective class or afterschool club, we may want to think about new ways to engage our elementary students in coding activities – especially since their interest is so high right now. As we know from our research on other STEM activities, engaging and supporting student interest in the elementary grades is critical for sustaining that interest in the later grades.

Want to learn more about the coding interests of your students as well as the perceptions of teachers and parents on this hot topic? Every school and district that participates in Speak Up and promotes the surveys to their K-12 students, teachers and parents, receives a free report with both local and national data findings. Speak Up 2014 surveys are open for input until December 19. Local reports will be available February 5. Here is your link to the surveys: https://speakup.tomorrow.org2014/