Cybersecurity is a critical and rapidly growing field in which the demand for jobs is increasingly outpacing the supply of qualified employees. K-12 education has a key role in addressing this shortage both by raising awareness and interest in cybersecurity and by providing students with the fundamental knowledge they need in order to pursue cybersecurity career pathways. A new, nationally representative survey from CYBER.ORG, administered by the EdWeek Research Center, examines the prevalence, forms, and perceptions of cybersecurity education, according to more than 900 K-12 teachers, principals, and district leaders. Results suggest that students and educators alike have limited knowledge of cybersecurity. Less than half of respondents report that their districts or schools offer cybersecurity education. Access is uneven, with the cybersecurity education less likely to be provided in small and high-poverty districts or in cybersecurity deserts that lack cybersecurity companies or universities that study or offer coursework on the subject. When cybersecurity education is offered in K-12, it is typically infused into the existing, broader curriculum rather than taught as a standalone course. In addition, providing cybersecurity education through extracurriculars such as clubs, competitions, or camps too may spark a deeper interest in pursuing cybersecurity as a career. Many key topics, including cryptography, systems engineering, artificial intelligence, and electricity are rarely taught in schools. Likely as a result of this infrequent and uneven access, educators say most students are not well-informed about the educational and career requirements associated with cybersecurity jobs. The report concludes with suggestions for expanding and improving access while also making it more equitable.
The EdWeek Research Center, a non-profit, non-partisan research organization, provided the content for this report. CYBER.ORG was the sponsor. EdWeek Research Center publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors. References to sponsors in this white paper do not constitute endorsements by Education Week or Editorial Projects in Education.