Interim Findings: Minorities Exploring Computer Science

Interim Report: Afterschool and Expanded Learning Computer Coding Opportunities generates significant findings during Summer Pilots

RALEIGH, NC (January 5, 2015) – The Public School Forum of North Carolina, through its NC Center for Afterschool Programs, in partnership with Fayetteville State University’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and Startup High launched a pilot program with a goal of exposing more female and minority students to computer science and entrepreneurship.  The project was also designed to provide training for school teachers and afterschool/expanded learning professionals to engage in collaboration techniques around computer coding applicable both for in and out of school time.  The pilot project, Minorities Exploring Computer Science (MECS), was made possible thanks to a micro-grant from Google.

MECS aims to close the significant gender and racial gap that exists in North Carolina among students pursuing computer science educational opportunities.  In order to address this, MECS pilot exposed an initial 90 students from Durham, Raleigh, and Charlotte in grades 9-12 during Summer 2014 (June – August).  MECS uses a self-paced computer coding program to guide students in their initial 5-day Summer exposure to engage in JavaScript computer programming language. JavaScript is a versatile and effective language that is used in visual effects and data calculations on websites.  There were also students who participated in Startup High’s computer science Summer Exposure.  This exposure provided students with an entrepreneurial experience in which they developed web-based applications to address a business idea or problem.  All students were provided with a flipped mentoring engagement with underrepresented computer science majors from several North Carolina universities.

In assessing the effectiveness of the pilot on student self-efficacy as it relates to computer science, a pre- and post survey was developed to identify: Confidence in learning computer science and programming, Attitude toward success in computer science; Computer science as a male domain; Usefulness of computer science & programming; and Effective motivation in computer science and programming.  Pre- and Post survey questions on students’ recommendation for best time to participate, desire to take virtual computer science courses, and eMentoring were also collected.

MECS Participant Demographics

Students who participated in the MECS Summer Pilot were 66% African-Americans, 10% Asian/Pacific Islander, 8% Hispanic American, and 4% Caucasian; 76% of the students were male and 24% were female, with 52%  Freshmen, 20% Sophmores, 8% Juniors, and 12% Seniors.  Over 47% of the students never attempted any type of programming or coding concept in their past.

Key findings 

After participating in MECS, the majority of students:

Interested in Participating

About the Public School Forum of North Carolina

The Public School Forum is a non-profit policy think tank formed in 1985 to bring business people, policymakers, and educators together to focus on educational innovations and research. Its Mission is “to shape a world-class public school education that supports all children in reaching their full potential and drives a vibrant North Carolina economy.” Some of the programs affiliated with the Forum's portfolio include the North Carolina Institute for Education Policymakers, the North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs, and the Education Policy Fellowship Program.  The Forum also produces policy reports and analyses, including the annual North Carolina Local School Finance Report.  For details on the Forum's work, visit the website at