Six school districts in South Mississippi have been selected to participate in a state-sponsored computer science pilot program.
The Mississippi Department of Education announced Hancock, Harrison, George, Pass Christian, Ocean Springs and Pascagoula school districts will begin training teachers for the program this summer.
The program will be administered at K-5 schools and high schools in those districts beginning next year.
The Computer Science for Mississippi (CS4MS) pilot program is designed "to expand the knowledge base of students and open the doors to career opportunities," according to a MDE press release.
In order to qualify for the program, schools must have a robust schedule of professional development, data gathering and adequate technology and infrastructure.
The program will include coding, digital literacy, keyboarding and robotics for elementary-age students. High school students will enroll in a comprehensive course called Exploring Computer Science (ECS).
In the future, MDE plans to add sixth- through eighth-grade courses, as well as an expanded offering of high school courses. MDE said the ultimate goal of CS4MS is to have a continuous K-12 computer science pipeline in place for all Mississippi public schools by the year 2024.
The program was created to address an urgent economic need, MDE said. According to Code.org, there are currently 607,708 open computing jobs nationwide, but America only graduated 42,969 computer science students into the workforce last year.
"The CS4MS pilot program aims to address this computer science knowledge gap so that Mississippi's students can compete for jobs alongside candidates from any other state or country."