Participants from more than 30 states attended the inaugural National Computer Science Summit for State Leaders on Monday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who spearheaded the state’s computer science and coding education initiative, said the summit was “a day of learning and networking.”

The invitation-only event included representatives from across the nation including the governors of South Carolina and Iowa.

“The need [for computer science and coding education] is clear,” Hutchinson said. “We have to address some very tough questions that we’re looking at in Arkansas: How do we increase the number of girls and minorities in coding? How do we diversify and improve the quality of coding instruction and courses in our school? How we increase ACT testing and participation and scores? And how do we recruit and retain computer science teachers for the classroom?”

He said education is “one of the most important topics we can engage in.”

Arkansas invests $5 million bi-annually into the initiative which is used in part to train teachers, purchase supplies, secure equipment and more.

“That is such a small investment with a huge opportunity for return,” Hutchinson said of the $2.5 million invested each year in the initiative.

He said after recognizing gaps, shortages and more need for computer science and coding education, his administration went to work to make it happen.

“We have implemented what we see and what is considered a comprehensive computer science education initiative” over the past four and half years.

In 2015, the governor signed into law a measure that requires all the state’s public high schools and charter schools to offer a course in computer coding. The state has since expanded access to K-12 students.

For more on the summit, visit http://www.aetn.org/arcan.