Is There a Correlation Between K-12 Computer Science and State Innovation Competitiveness?



In Oregon, where 64% of public high schools offer foundational computer science, scholastic esports organization Vanta in May announced it was partnering with East Metro STEAM Partnership (EMSP), Multnomah Education Service District (MESD) and Intel to establish an esports community initiative at the high school and middle school level.

Photo courtesy of Vanta

Correlation does not imply causation. Perhaps no disclaimer is more routinely cited and then stampeded than this maxim formulated by British statistician Karl Pearson more than a century ago.

It’s a caution that’s even more important in the age of big data and high-speed computing. So what better area than computer science to mindfully stampede past its warning signs by aligning two reports side by side?

Submitted for your consideration:, the nonprofit that advocates for every student having the opportunity to learn computer science as part of their core K-12 education, early this month released its 2023 State of Computer Science Education report, which noted “a record-breaking allocation of over $120 million for computer science in state budgets” as of the time of publication. The report states that 57% of 24,987 U.S. public high schools now offer computer science, up from 35% as recently as the 2017-2018 school year. The group also recognized the eight states that now require all students to take computer science in order to earn a high school diploma:

States Where Computer Science Is Required to Earn a High School Diploma

State Year Adopted Year of Implementation
Arkansas 2021 Class of 2026
Nebraska 2022 Class of 2028
Nevada 2017 Class of 2023
North Carolina 2023 Class of 2028
North Dakota 2023 Class of 2026
Rhode Island 2022 Class of 2028
South Carolina 2018 Class of 2024
Tennessee 2021 Class of 2028



Co-authored by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and the Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance, the report includes these other findings:

  • In 2023, 34 states have adopted or updated 38 policies to make computer science foundational, including 28 states that funded computer science education.
  • In the last legislative session, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Rhode Island adopted a graduation requirement in computer science and Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota and New Hampshire funded computer science education for the first time.

The report also scores the states based on the percentage of high schools offering at least one foundational computer science course. While an official ranking is not included, here are the top states as extrapolated from a map in the report:

Top 10 States by Percent of Public High Schools
Offering Foundational Computer Science

T1. Arkansas (99%)
T1. Maryland (99%)
3. Nevada (96%)
4. Alabama (95%)
5. South Carolina (94%)
6. Illinois (91%)
T7. Connecticut (84%)
T7. Iowa (84%)
9. Massachusetts (83%)
10. New Jersey (82%)

Now let’s have a look at report No. 2 … or rather, two concurrent reports released at once by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) in partnership with other think tanks in the Global Trade and Innovation Policy Alliance (GTIPA: the Transatlantic Subnational Innovation Competitiveness Index 2.0 and the Latin American Subnational Innovation Competitiveness Index, both released in September and both based on three categories of economic indicators “representing orientation toward knowledge work, adaptation to globalization, and capacity to innovate.”

The first report benchmarks the 50 U.S. states alongside 71 European states in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Sweden. The second benchmarks the states alongside 132 states in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru.

Four U.S. states make the top 10 in the Transatlantic report: No. 1 Massachusetts (ranked No. 9 in the list above), No. 2 California, No. 4 Washington state and No. 10 Maryland (No. 1 in the table). Three of the ITIF report’s Top 10 regions are in Sweden, while the remaining three are in Germany. Stretch to the top 20 states in the ITIF report and you’ll find New Jersey at No. 12 (10th in the ranking) and No. 15 Connecticut (tied for No. 7 in high school computer science access).

In the Latin American report, all four of those Top 10 states in the report — Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey and Connecticut — make the Top 10, as U.S. states overall occupy the first 47 positions in the ranking. — Adam Bruns

With support from Comcast announced in May, the Oakland, California–based Hidden Genius Project, which trains and mentors Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills, will engage 1,200 youth of color in programming and 200 high school students in an intensive immersion program.

Photo courtesy of Comcast