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ACM Establishes Education Policy Committee


Association for Computing Machinery

Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession


Virginia Gold

Cameron Wilson

ACM Public Policy Office


For Immediate Release


New Effort to Recognize Computing Education as Critical to 21st Century Workforce

NEW YORK, N.Y., December 4, 2007 – ACM (the Association for Computing Machinery) has created a high- level committee of acclaimed computer scientists and educators to improve opportunities for quality education in computing and computer science. Chaired by Bobby Schnabel, dean of the Indiana University School of Informatics, ACM’s new Education Policy Committee (EPC) will develop initiatives aimed at shaping national education policies that impact on the computing field. The EPC will initially focus on steps to ensure that computer science education is identified as a critical component of education policy in the U.S. at both federal and state levels.

The ACM announcement was timed to coincide with the newest report on how students around the world are performing in key subject areas. "As today’s announcement of the results of the 2006 Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) study make clear, students can benefit significantly by expanded opportunities for quality computer science education," said Schnabel. "The industries that comprise the computing field are global, and the implications for national investment in computer science education on a country’s competitive edge are significant. In the long run, national education policy that leads to a first-rate computing and information technology workforce may be the most significant factor in defining a country’s ability to compete in a knowledge economy underpinned by IT." The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) announced the results of its PISA study, which measures performance in reading, mathematics, and science for 15-year-old students in OECD countries.

Schnabel pointed out that computer science education plays a vital role in preparing the workforce for needed 21st century skills, but it is often overlooked, particularly at the high school level. "We need to show policy makers that using computing merely enables people to leverage existing innovation, whereas understanding computing allows people to create innovations that achieve breakthroughs," he said.

Among the EPC’s responsibilities for improving the quality of computing education in the U.S. are to:

  • Review issues that impact science, math, and computer science education in K-12 and higher education systems
  • Determine if current policies are adequately serving the computing field and recommend improvements
  • Comment on proposals before Congress that impact computing issues
  • Educate policymakers on the role and importance of computing education
  • Provide expertise on key computing and education issues to policymakers

A primary goal of the EPC is to ensure that computing and computer science are recognized in educational initiatives at all levels of the U.S. educational pipeline. "Ideally, we want to see explicit discussion of 'computing' in the debates and conversation surrounding science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. At a minimum, we want to ensure that computing has a voice in these debates, and that computing is an integral part of education programs," noted John R. White, Chief Executive Officer of ACM.

The EPC’s first public appearance will be at the 2008 ACM SIGCSE Symposium on Computer Science Education March 12-15 in Portland, OR. The SIGCSE (Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education) program features Schnabel moderating a panel of EPC members entitled “An Open Dialogue on the State of Computer Science Education Policy.”

"The EPC is a logical extension of ACM’s involvement in educational issues at many levels," said White. "The ACM Education Board is pursuing projects on the undergraduate computing curriculum, the image of computing, and declines in computer science enrollments. ACM SIGCSE and the ACM Special Interest Group on Information Technology Education (SIGITE) are communities of university computing and computer science educators engaged in how computing is taught at the university level."

White also cited as current ACM education initiatives the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), launched by ACM in 2005, to tackle serious challenges to computing in US high schools and middle schools as well as ACM’s participation in the National Center for Women and information Technology (NCWIT), which is working to increase the participation of women in IT in general, and the participation of girls in K-12 computing in particular.

In addition, ACM and the Computer Research Association (CRA) cooperate on many issues affecting the health of computing research and graduate education. "Through ACM’s Education Policy Committee, we will continue to engage with organizations that share our passion for rigorous educational standards that drive innovation in our global environment," he said.

Additional information about ACM’s Education Policy Committee is at

ACM Education Policy Committee (affiliations provided for identification purposes)

Bobby Schnabel
Dean, School of Informatics
Indiana University

Fred Chang
Research Professor
Center for Information Assurance and Security
Department of Computer Sciences
University of Texas at Austin

Joanna Goode
Assistant Professor
Department of Teacher Education
University of Oregon

J Strother Moore
Chair, Department of Computer Sciences
Admiral B.R. Inman Centennial Chair in Computing Theory
University of Texas at Austin

Mark Stehlik
Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education
School of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University

Chris Stephenson
Executive Director
Computer Science Teachers Association

Ex Officio Members:
Eugene H. Spafford
Professor of Computer Science
Executive Director, Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security
Purdue University

John R. White
Chief Executive Officer

About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery is an educational and scientific society uniting the world’s computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.

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