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College & Workforce Readiness Report Roundup

AP Computer Science Sees Test-Taking Rise

By Holly Kurtz — January 06, 2015 1 min read

The number of students who took the Advanced Placement computer science exam skyrocketed last year, but females and minority students remained underrepresented, and, in multiple states, not a single black or Hispanic student sat for the exam.

In one state, Montana, no female, African-American, or Hispanic student participated, an Education Week analysis of AP data found.

Of the 34 AP subject exams administered in 2014, computer science experienced the highest annual growth rate, with the number of exams administered increasing by 26 percent since 2013, to 39,278—the largest one-year increase in at least a decade, according to the College Board, the New York City-based organization that oversees the AP program.

Participation rates for female, Hispanic,and black students increased at even higher rates, with the number of test-takers in those groups growing by more than one-third from 2013 to 2014.

Still, girls remained underrepresented in 2014, making up just 20 percent of total AP computer science test-takers, only slightly more than the 19 percent last year.

The percentage of African-American test-takers also held steady at around 4 percent, while the share of Hispanic participants increased slightly to about 9 percent from 8 percent. In comparison, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education calculates that, nationwide, black and Hispanic students made up 14 percent and 19 percent, respectively, of the total members of the class of 2014.

Among the 49 states where at least one student took the computer science exam, 12 had no black students taking part in 2014. That’s up from 11 states with no black participants in 2013, when a Georgia Institute of Technology research scientist conducted a similar analysis.

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A version of this article appeared in the January 07, 2015 edition of Education Week as AP Computer Science Sees Test-Taking Rise

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