About this study

This report presents results of a study conducted by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) in 2009 and 2010 to determine the extent to which computer science education is incorporated into current state education standards, and to what extent states allow computer science courses to count as a graduation credit in a required or "core". We sought to answer two basic questions related to the state of K–12 computer science in the U.S.:

  • To what degree have the ACM/CSTA Model Curriculum for K–12 Computer Science computer science standards been adopted by the states?
  • As national organizations such as Achieve.org and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics have pushed states to adopt requirements that students take a four-course sequence in mathematics and a four-course sequence in science in secondary education, to what extent do states allow computer science to count as a graduation credit in a required or "core" subject?

Guide to the Organization of this Report

Running on Empty has five main sections.

The Executive Summary and Findings provides a quick overview of the results of the study and their major educational implications. It is intended as an overview of both the results and the educational issues that surround the role of computer science education within the current K–12 curriculum. This section also contains the authors’ recommendations for policy makers (National Call to Action, Recommendations).

The Introduction offers concise details of the research study and describes the U.S. K–12 educational policy framework. It includes a description of the role of learning standards and assessments and of state-level graduation requirements and their impact on student course selection.

The K–12 Computer Science Education Background and Issues section explores key issues impacting computer science education including the current confusion with regard to computing education and terminology. It provides a succinct definition for computer science specifically grounded in K–12 education and explores the critical place of computer science within STEM education and K–12 education in general. It also looks at the critical issue of teacher certification.

The Findings section provides a detailed examination of the research study, including its methodology, findings, and the limitations of the study.

The report also includes an extensive Appendix, which provides the results of the study on a state-by-state basis. Essentially, each appendix presents a state-level report card detailing the extent to which computer science standards are incorporated into current state standards, where these standards can be found, and whether computer science counts as a core subject area.