LITTLE ROCK – The number of high school students enrolled in a computer science course in the 2019-2020 school year has increased by 22 percent over the 2018-2019 school year, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday.


This year, 9,813 students are enrolled in a computer science course compared to 8,044 students in the 2018-2019 school year.


“When we first launched the computer science education initiative, we set a goal to increase the number of students who are enrolled in a computer science course to 7,500 by the 2019-2020 school year,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This year marks the end of that timeframe, and we have exceeded our goal by more than 2,000 students. The enthusiasm, creativity, and innovation that we have seen for computer science from our students and teachers continue to amaze me, and I’m confident that this movement will be a catalyst for continued growth in Arkansas.”


Since the Governor’s first year in office, enrollment in computer science courses has increased by 788 percent, from 1,104 students in 2014-2015 to more than 9,800 in 2019-2020. The number of females enrolled in computer science has increased from 223 in 2014-2015 to 2,852 this year, a 1,179 percent increase.


“The continued increase in computer science enrollment numbers reflects the value that students and teachers place on computer science education in Arkansas,” Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) Secretary Johnny Key said. “Not only have our students far exceeded expectations set five years ago, they are paving the way in computer science education for the rest of the country. I am so proud of their hard work, as well as the efforts, time, and commitment from Arkansas’s educators. Together, we are leading the nation in student-focused education.”


Each high school grade level saw more than a 20 percent increase in computer science enrollment.


“Governor Hutchinson, the Arkansas Department of Education, and many other state agencies have worked hard to grow our state’s future economic stability through our nationally recognized #ARKidsCanCode / #CSforAR computer science initiative,” said Anthony Owen, state director of computer science. “The 2019-2020 enrollment numbers communicate clearly that Arkansas students realize that having these critical skills and knowledge is a necessary part of their academic and professional future.”


In his first month in office, Governor Hutchinson guided legislation that made Arkansas the first state in the nation to require all public high schools to provide classes in computer coding. In 2015, he provided $5 million to ADE to begin the Arkansas Computer Science Initiative. The Governor also provided $2.5 million a year for four years to train teachers and support K-12 computer science education. Several national publications have cited Arkansas as a leader in computer science education, including Code.org, which announced in its 2019 State of Computer Science Education report that Arkansas has the second greatest percentage of high schools teaching computer science and one of the most rapid rates of growth in computer science education in the nation.